Tag Archives: rembrandt lighting


I want to mention three things in this post. A few lighting setups, muses and the royal wedding.

Let me start off by saying that i hope the royal wedding will be a roaring success and that no evil exes will make unwanted moves. There must be so many eyeballs focused on the old telly at this very moment that i am writing this. In any event, much congrats and may the celebration be unforgettable, like the movie, suckerpunch.

Okay, regarding the lighting. Here are 6 different lighting setups, for the face. On another note, we recognize each others faces by looking at the relationship between the nose, eyes and mouth.

Butterfly lighting



The butterfly is basically a reference to the shape of the shadow under the nose. It doesn’t really look like a butterfly, but with a little imagination, you can visualize it. The light is positioned above the camera and directly in front of your subject’s face. If the subject turns their head, the shadow changes. Again, play around with this. If you want the shadow to be softer, you can place a reflector under the subject’s head.  This will bounce some fill into the shadow areas.

image link: butterfly

Loop lighting

This is a commonly used lighting technique. The light is placed to one side of the subject’s face and positioned so that you get a loop-shaped shadow under the subject’s nose. If you want to get technical, the shadow points towards the corner of the mouth, but doesn’t quite reach it. This is a pretty good lighting setup for people with oval shaped faces.

image link: loop

image link: loop

Rembrandt’s triangle

This was named after the Dutch painter, Rembrandt. For this effect, the light needs to be high and to one side in front of the subject. Obviously, people differ, so you’ll have to play around with the light to see what is the best effect. Its characterized by a patch of light on the less brightly lit side of the face. This patch, according to some material, shouldn’t be wider than the eye and longer than the nose. Its a very moody lighting setup and works really well with the right subject.

photo link: rembrandt

photo link: rembrandt

Split lighting

This is achieved by moving the light to one side of the subject, keeping it at the same height level as the head. This gives a very dramatic effect and once again, depends on what you are looking for. You can even increase the drama by using a black reflector or polyboard on the side of the face. Alternatively, you can soften the effect by using a white/ silver reflector or polyboard.

photo link: split

photo link: split

Broad lighting

If the key light is illuminating the side of the face closest to the camera, it is known as broad lighting.  This isn’t a very nice setup for people with broad or round faces, because it’ll make them look “fatter”. So its a nice setup for people with thinner, narrower faces.

photo link: broad

photo link: broad

Narrow lighting

Narrow, also known as short, lighting is where the person’s face away from the camera is lit by the key light. (main light). You place the key light opposite to where it was in broad lighting, at the same height.  You can also use a second light or a reflector to ad fill to the opposite side. Again, adjust according to taste.  Its a nice lighting setup for portraits and for people with “fatter” faces.

photo link: short

photo link: short

I hope these examples and definitions make sense. Just to reiterate, this is just guidelines to produce a specific effect. You can adjust according to your own taste. Take the different setups, and play around with the position and height of the light. Ad a reflector to some shots and compare the results. If you want, ad a background light for separation of the subject from the background. Nothing is set in stone. Photography has rules, but they are most certainly meant to be broken.


I just want to mention a few words about muses. Here’s a nice link to a wiki definition. But i suppose everyone has their own interpretation. For me, its someone that inspires your work and pushes you to be more creative and to try different things. If you had a shit day at a shoot, you can always find your muse to help ease the depression. One example, is Karl Lagerfeld and baptiste giabiconi. If you google them, you’ll see a lot of collaborative work. Definitely something to take note of if you’re looking for some inspiration.

muses, wiki style.

That’s it for this post. I hope that everyone enjoys the coming weekend and that you’ll always resist the urge to give up.