I’m working on a photographic project where Rembrandt Lighting will be used to add mood and intimacy to the shot.
Rembrandt lighting is a lighting technique used in studio portrait photography, using a light and a reflector. This technique will produce images which appear both natural and compelling with a minimum of equipment. Rembrandt lighting is characterized by an illuminated triangle under the eye of the subject, on the less illuminated side of the face. It is named after the Dutch painter Rembrandt famed for using this technique in his paintings.
Typically, the key light is placed high and to one side at the front, and the fill light or a reflector is placed half-height and on the other side at the front, set to about half the power of the key light, with the subject, if facing at an angle to the camera, with the key light illuminating the far side of the face.
The key feature in Rembrandt lighting is creating the triangle or diamond shape of light underneath the eye. One side of the face is lit well from the main light source while the other side of the face uses the interaction of shadows and light, also known as chiaroscuro, an Italian word that’s literal translation is light-dark, to create this geometric form on the face.
The triangle should be no longer than the nose and no wider than the eye. This technique may be achieved subtly or very dramatically by altering the distance between subject and lights and relative strengths of main and fill lights.
This style shares similarities with and is often confused for short lighting. To be true Rembrandt lighting, the triangle of light should be about the same width and length of the subjects eye and nose, respectively. Adjustments can be remedied by adjusting the distance of the light or reflector to the subjects face.
Rembrandt Van Rijn Self Portrait
Rembrandt Lighting set-up