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Photography Lighting Techniques with One Light

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If you’re looking to get started in studio portraiture, this video will teach you three photography lighting techniques using only one light.

These Photography Lighting Techniques Include:

#1) Rembrandt Lighting: This photography lighting technique is characterized by an illuminated triangle under the eye of the subject, on the less illuminated side of the face. It is named for the Dutch painter Rembrandt, who often used this type of lighting.

Here’s how you achieve it:

Place the key light at a 45 degree angle from the camera and adjusted higher than your model pointing slightly downward This light will create a triangle or diamond shape shadow underneath the eye that is farther away from the light source.

Altering the distance between the key light and the model will subtly or dramatically enhance the Rembrandt effect.

A reflector can be added at a 45 degree angle on the other side of the camera to reduce the harshness of the shadows.

#2) Butterfly Lighting: This photography lighting technique is commonly used in photography for women, as it is flattering for their face shapes; it is often called glamour lighting or paramount lighting. The term “butterfly lighting” was created because of the shape of the shadow it creates under the subject’s nose. It is not generally used to light men for portraits, as it generally does not flatter male face shapes.

Here’s how you achieve it:

Sit your model so she faces directly in to the camera. Place the light in front of the camera and at least one foot above your subject and pointing downward. If the effect is too flat and you lose some of the contour of the subject’s features, raise the key light until attractive shadows form.

A reflector may be placed just below the edge of your frame to help spread of light. This reflector will soften that shadow and eliminate a harsh contrast.

 #3) Edge Lighting: This photography lighting technique is often used as an artistic glamour shot.

Here’s how to achieve it:

Place the light to the side of your model and adjust it so that it is the same height as their face.

A reflector can be added on the other side of the model to help reduce the harshness of the shadows.

We hope you enjoyed these photography lighting techniques using only one light. Please use the buttons below to share this tutorial with other photographers and also make a comment.

One Comment

  1. Marie

    January 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Wow! this is so helpful, thank you. For almost a year I’ve been trying to learn about lighting, I’ve gone to meet ups and things but never really learn anything until I read this. Thank you.

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