Rembrandt Lighting

It’s easy to get complacent with photography. You find something that works, or inspires you, or you take a job that requires you to specialize in one area of photography and you don’t continue to better your skills in others. I have been shooting so many live event and marketing images for companies as of late that I’ve overlooked my in-studio stuff. Thankfully having a muse like Dana who is so willing to model for me as I test brush up on my lighting skills is really a blessing.

Master painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn is known throughout the art and photography world as someone who had perfected the use of light and shadow. The “Rembrandt Lighting” method allows photographers to create deep and compelling imagery using one or two lights. Typically a photographer will place one light to his left (or right), relatively high up, and at a 45 degree angle to his subject. This is known as the “key” light. The key will produce a natural light on the close side of the face, and shadows on the other. Rembrandt lighting is known for it’s signature triangle of light that happens underneath the far eye of the subject, while the rest of that side of the face falls into shadow. Depending on how much detail the photographer wants on the shadow side of the face, he me choose to add a second light known as the “fill” to light the shadows every so slightly.

It’s a simple but effective technique and my “heroes” in the photography world use this technique so effectively. If you are interested, definitely check out Dan Winters, Chris Knight, Yousuf Karsh and Rog Walker. Their work is so inspirational. Even local photographer Jessica Deeks is producing some amazing political portraiture here in Ottawa that I find truly amazing.

Working through this lighting setup with Dana, I didn’t quite get the shadows I was hoping for. Because of this, the work below loses a bit of the “drama” I wanted to portray. But this is why I continue to work at my photography. I’m always learning and exploring how I can better myself. I’m putting in the “work” so that my process will continue to get better and better. Photography is a passion for me and passions need love and attention to make sure they are nurtured.

Anyways, even though the images weren’t quite what I expected, I’m still happy with the results. They are a reflection of where I am as a photographer right now and they are a good mile marker to reflect back on as I continue to learn.

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