What is rembrandt Lighting and how to use in portraits

Jul 06, 2023

Introduction

Rembrandt lighting is a lighting technique commonly used in portrait photography. It is named after the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt, who often used this type of lighting in his paintings. This technique is characterized by a small triangle of light on the subject's cheek opposite the light source, which creates a dramatic effect and adds depth to the image.

How to achieve Rembrandt lighting

To achieve Rembrandt lighting, you need a single light source, such as a window or a studio light, placed at a 45-degree angle to the subject. The light should be positioned higher than the subject's face, creating a downward angle. The subject should then turn their face slightly away from the light source, so that the side of their face opposite the light source is in shadow.

rembrandt lighting

Using reflectors

Reflectors can be used to bounce light back onto the subject's face and fill in the shadows. A white or silver reflector can be placed on the opposite side of the light source to reflect light back onto the subject's face. This will help to soften the shadows and create a more even lighting effect.

reflector

Choosing the right background

The background can also play a role in creating the Rembrandt lighting effect. A darker background will help to make the subject stand out and create a more dramatic effect. A lighter background will create a softer, more natural look.

background

When to use Rembrandt lighting

Rembrandt lighting is ideal for creating dramatic, moody portraits. It works particularly well for portraits of people with angular faces or strong features, as it emphasizes these features and adds depth to the image. It can also be used to create a sense of mystery or intrigue in the image.

Examples of Rembrandt lighting in photography

Many famous photographers have used Rembrandt lighting in their work. One example is the portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, who often uses this technique in her celebrity portraits. Another example is the fashion photographer Mario Testino, who used Rembrandt lighting in his portrait of Princess Diana.

example

Conclusion

Rembrandt lighting is a powerful technique for creating dramatic, moody portraits. By using a single light source and positioning it at a 45-degree angle to the subject, you can create a small triangle of light on the subject's cheek opposite the light source, which adds depth and dimension to the image. With the right background and reflectors, you can create stunning portraits that capture the essence of your subject.