Lighting is a key factor in the creation of any photograph and successful photographers all need to be aware of the way they can use lighting to their advantage. Lighting is an incredibly powerful tool for a photographer so instead of using too little light and leaving the image underexposed, or doing the opposite and overexposing it, a photographer needs to use it as a paintbrush with which he/she will paint the image. It is important to be aware of the things you want to highlight and the things you want to leave in the shadows.
This balance of shadows and highlights helps create a 3 Dimensional look and gives structure and shows texture to an image, especially a live model. Without this the subject of the photograph may fall flat and lifeless.
Rembrandt or 3 quarter lighting is a technique used in studio portrait photography. It was named after the Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn who painted his portraits in a similarly lit way. Rembrandt is a lighting technique which makes photographs look both compelling and complex even though it is very easy to achieve this effect. The way to make sure you’re incorporating the Rembrandt technique correctly is to watch out for the upside down triangle of light on the model’s cheek. This triangle should be the only light on this side of the model’s face. In image number 3 of my photographs you can clearly see the triangle under my model’s left eye is the only light coming up on that side of her face, indicating the Rembrandt lighting technique has been performed successfully. The equipment necessary to successfully incorporate the Rembrandt technique are a camera, one light source and a reflector. The light source and the reflector are supposed to be placed on each side of the camera directed towards the model. The equipment I used for these photos also included a white backdrop and a tripod. The ISO was set at 400, Aperture f/16.0 and shutter speed was 1/250.
Side lighting is a technique of lighting the model or subject of the photograph in a way which highlights only one side of them, while leaving the other in darkness. This creates for an engaging and mysterious finished image which gives depth to the personality of the model or characteristics of the subject. Side lighting can be played around with until the photographer achieves the desired appearance of shadows. This means adjusting the angles and intensity of the light source can make a significant change in the look of the photograph.
The way I achieved this dramatic look of side lighting is by simply placing the light source on one side of the camera and directed it at the model, varying the angles until I achieved the desire effect. I’m especially happy with photo number 2 as it dramatically highlights the texture and colour of my model’s hair. It also leaves a nice line of light on the cheekbone of the side of her face which we exposed to the light source. Meanwhile the other side is left in complete darkness, making for an ominous feeling. I also find the intricate shadows cast on the backdrop behind the model create for an interesting story of the eternal inner struggle of light and darkness.
Beauty LightBeauty lighting is the trademark of beauty photography and it is most predominantly used in portrait photography. What photographers usually try to achieve with beauty lighting is a ‘shadowless’ look, but sometimes there are exceptions to this notion. The technique behind beauty lighting is simply placing the light source directly in front of the model. Reflectors can be used but they are not absolutely necessary for the images to come out well. The equipment used for my four examples of beauty lighting were a DSLR camera, a light source, a plain white backdrop and a tripod. In the first two photos I had successfully created the ‘shadowless’ look that I mentioned above as being the standard of portraiture. But in the third photograph which is a medium close up of my model I decided to play around with the shadows minimally, creating a shadow above her. In my vision this makes her look a bit scary because it makes her appear to stand taller and more dangerous with the help of the shadows above her, which elongate her. This was accomplished by directing the light source at the model from a slightly lower angle. A shadow which is not nearly as dramatic, but nevertheless still a shadow can be seen in the fourth photograph, as the light source had been angled slightly off centre.