6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know

Post on 28-Oct-2015




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6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know


6 Portrait Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Knowby Darlene Hildebrandt84del.icio.usTwitterStumbleUponDigg7K+In classical portraiture there are several things you need to control and think about to make a flattering portrait of your subjects, including: lighting ratio, lighting pattern, facial view, and angle of view. I suggest you get to know these basics inside out, and as with most things, then you can break the rules. But if you can nail this one thing youll be well on your way to great people photos. In this article were going to look at lighting pattern: what is it, why its important, and how to use it. Perhaps in another future article, if you enjoy this one, Ill talk about the other aspects of good portraiture. Lighting pattern Id define as, how light and shadow play across the face to create different shapes. What shape is the shadow on the face, in simple terms. There are four common portrait lighting patterns, they are: Split lighting Loop lighting Rembrandt lighting Butterfly lightingThere are also Broad and Short lighting which are more of a style, and can be used with most of the patterns above. Lets look at each of them individually. 1. Split LightingSplit lighting is exactly as the name implies it splits the face exactly into equal halves with one side being in the light, and the other in shadow. It is often used to create dramatic images for things such as a portrait of a musician or an artist. Split lighting tends to be a more masculine pattern and as such is usually more appropriate or applicable on men than it is for women. Keep in mind however, there are no hard and fast rules, so I suggest you use the information I provide here as a starting point or guideline. Until you learn this and can do it in your sleep, default to the guideline whenever youre not sure. To achieve split lighting simply put the light source 90 degrees to the left or right of the subject, and possibly even slightly behind their head. Where you place the light in relation to the subject will depend on the persons face. Watch how the light falls on them and adjust accordingly. In true split lighting, the eye on the shadow side of the face does pick up light in the eye only. If by rotating their face a bit more light falls on their cheek, its possible their face just isnt ideal for split lighting. NOTE: any lighting pattern can be created on any facial view (frontal view showing both ears, or face, or even profile). Just keep in mind that your light source must follow the face to maintain the lighting pattern. If they turn their head the pattern will change. So you can use that to your advantage to easily adjust the patten just by them rotating their head a little. What the heck is a catchlight?Notice in this photo above that the babys eyes have a reflection of the actual light source in them. It shows up as a little white spot, but if we look closer we can actually see the shape of the light I used in this portrait. See how the bright spot is actually hexagon with a dark centre? Thats the light I used which was a small hexagon shaped soft box on my Canon speedlight. This is what is known as the catchlight. Without the eye of the subject catching this light, the eyes will appear dark, dead and lifeless. You need to ensure that at least one eye has a catchlight to give the subject life. Notice it also lightens the iris and brightens the eye overall. This also adds to the feeling of life and gives them a sparkle. 2. Loop LightingLoop lighting is made by creating a small shadow of the subjects noses on their cheeks. To create loop lighting, the light source must be slightly higher than eye level and about 30-45 degrees from the camera (depends on the person, you have to learn how to read peoples faces). Look at this image to see where the shadows fall, and on their left sides you can see a small shadow of their noses. In loop lighting the shadow of the nose and that of the cheek do NOT touch. Keep the shadow small and slightly downward pointing, but be aware of having your light source too high which will create odd shadows and cause loss of the catchlights. Loop light is probably the most common or popular lighting pattern as it is easy to create and flatters most people. In this diagram the black backdrop represents the bank of trees behind them. The sun is coming over the trees but they are completely in the shade. A white reflector is used at camera left to bounce light back into the subjects faces. The reflector may or may not be in the sun but you can still pick up light even if its not. Just play with the angles, by changing the placement of the reflector you can change the lighting pattern. For Loop lighting it will need to be somewhere around 30-45 degrees from the camera. It also needs to be slightly above their eye level so the shadow or loop of their nose angles down towards the corner of the mouth. That is one mistake I often see beginners make with reflectors is to place them down low and angle it up. That lights up the bottom of your subjects nose and does not create a flattering pattern.3. Rembrandt LightingRembrandt lighting is so named because the Rembrandt the painter often used this pattern of light in his paintings, as you can see in his self portrait here. Rembrandt lighting is identified by the triangle of light on the cheek. Unlike loop lighting where the shadow of the nose and cheek do not touch, in Rembrandt lighting they do meet which, creates that trapped little triangle of light in the middle. To create proper Rembrandt lighting make sure the eye on the shadow side of the face has light in it and has a catch light, otherwise the eye will be dead and not have a nice sparkle. Rembrandt lighting is more dramatic, so like split lighting it creates more mood and a darker feel to your image. Use it appropriately. To create Rembrandt lighting the subject must turn slightly away from the light. The light must be above the top of their head so that the shadow from their nose falls down towards the cheek. Not every persons face is ideal for creating Rembrandt lighting. If they have high or prominent cheek bones it will probably work. If they have a small nose or flat bridge of the nose, it may be difficult to achieve. Again, keep in mind you dont have to make exactly this pattern or another, just so long as the person is flattered, and the mood you want is created then the lighting is working. If you are using window light and the window goes down to the floor, you may have to block off the bottom portion with a gobo or card, to achieve this type of lighting. 4. Butterfly LightingButterfly lighting is aptly named for the butterfly shaped shadow that is created under the nose by placing the main light source above and directly behind the camera. The photographer is basically shooting underneath the light source for this pattern. It is most often used for glamour style shots and to create shadows under the cheeks and chin. It is also flattering for older subjects as it emphasizes wrinkles less than side lighting. Butterfly lighting is created by having the light source directly behind the camera and slightly above eye or head level of the subject (depends on the person). It is sometimes supplemented by placing a reflector directly under their chin, with the subject themselves even holding it! This pattern flatters subjects with defined or prominent cheek bones and a slim face. Someone with a round, wide face would look better with loop or even split to slim their face. This pattern is tougher to create using windowlight or a reflector alone. Often a harder light source like the sun or a flash is needed to produce the more defined shadow under the nose.5. Broad Lighting Broad lighting is not so much a particular pattern, but a style of lighting. Any of the following patterns of light can be either broad or short: loop, Rembrandt, split. Broad lighting is when the subjects face is slightly turned away from centre, and the side of the face which is toward the camera (is broader) is in the light. This produces a larger area of light on the face, and a shadow side which appears smaller. Broad lighting is sometimes used for high key portraits. This type of lighting makes a persons face look broader or wider (hence the name) and can be used on someone with a very slim face to widen it. Most people however want to look slimmer, not wider so this type of lighting would not be appropriate for someone who is heavier or round faced.To create broad lighting the face is turned away from the light source. Notice how the side of the face that is towards the camera has the most light on it and the shadows are falling on the far side of the face, furthest from the camera. Simply put broad lighting illuminates the largest part of the face showing. 6. Short LightingShort lighting is the opposite of broad lighting. As you can see by the example here, short lighting puts the side turned towards the camera (that which appears larger) in more shadow. It is often used for low key, or darker portraits. It puts more of the face in shadow, is more sculpting, add 3D qualities, and is slimming and flattering for most people. In short lighting, the face is turned towards the light source this time. Notice how the part of the face that is turned away from the camera has the most light on it and the shadows are falling on the near side of the face, closet to the camera. Simply put short lighting has shadows on the largest part of the face showing. Putting it all together Once you learn how to recognize and create each of the different lighting patterns you can then start to learn how and when to apply them. By studying your subjects face you will learn which lighting pattern will be best for them, and for the type of portrait and mood desired. Someone with a very round face that wants to appear slimmer in a grad portrait, will be lit very differently than someone that wants a promo shot for their band that makes them appear mean or angry. Once you know all the patterns, how to recognize and master quality of light, direction of light and ratio (well discuss that in a future article) then you will be well equipped to handle the challenge.Of course it is much easier to change the lighting pattern if you can move the light source. However if the main light source is the sun, or a window its a bit tougher to do that. So what you will need to do instead of moving the light, is to have the subject rotate in respect to the light to change the direction it falls on them. Or change your camera position. Or change their position. So basically move the things you can move in relation to the light, if you cannot move the light source itself. Practice ExerciseCorral yourself a subject (as in a real live person, not your dog) and practice creating each of the lighting patterns we just discussed including: butterfly lighting loop lighting Rembrandt lighting split lightingRemember to show both broad lighting and short lighting for each of the different patterns, where applicable. Dont worry about any other aspect (ratio, fill light, etc) for now, just concentrate getting the patterns down pat first. Use light from a window, a floor lamp with a bare bulb (take the shade off) or the sun but try and use a light source that you can see whats happening (Id suggest that you do not try using flash until youve got more experience, its harder to learn with because you cant see it until after the photo is taken) This also works best to start out with the subject facing the camera directly, no turning except to create the broad and short. Show us your results please and share any challenges or problems you encountered. Ill try and help you solve them so you and others can learn from it, and get better for next time. Read more: http://digital-photography-school.com/6-portrait-lighting-patterns-every-photographer-should-know#ixzz2RnxlgqwpThe Five Basic Portrait-Lighting SetupsBy Bill HurterPublished by Amherst MediaParamount. Loop. Rembrandt. Split. Rim. Bill Hurter provides light-by-light instructions and diagrams to show you how to create these essential portrait setups in this excerpt from his Amherst Media book.This excerpt from The Best of Photographic Lighting is provided courtesy of Amherst Media. To purchase the book and learn more about the publisher, visit the Amherst Media Web site.As you progress through the following lighting setups, from Paramount to split lighting, keep in mind that each pattern progressively makes the face slimmer. Each also progressively brings out more texture in the face because the light is moved father and farther to the side. As you read through the lighting styles, youll also notice that the key light mimics the course of the sun across the sky; at first it is high, then it gradually grows lower in relation to the subject. It is important that the key light never dip below the subjects head height. In traditional portraiture, this does not occurprimarily because it does not occur in nature.The setups described presume the use of parabolic lights. However, most contemporary portrait photographers prefer diffused light sources, which are very forgiving and which do not create sharp-edged shadows. If you choose to create the five lighting patterns described here using diffused sources, very little changeswith the exception that the key light is usually placed closer to the subject in order to capitalize on the softest light.In such soft-light setups, the background, hair, and kicker lights may be diffused as well. For instance, strip lights and similar devices can be used to produce soft, long highlights in hair, on the edge of clothes, and on the background.The overall aesthetic of using soft light is not only seen as more contemporary, emulating the images seen in the fashion world, it is also a lot easier to master. Big soft light sources are inherently forgiving, and since the subject is basically wrapped in soft light, retouching is minimized. Also, the transfer edge, where shadow and highlight areas meet, is much more gradual than with undiffused lights.The diagrams below show the five basic portrait lighting setups. The fundamental difference between them is the placement of the key light. Lighting patterns change as the key light is moved from close to and high above the subject to the side of the subject and lower. The key light should not be positioned below eye level, as lighting from beneath does not occur in nature. You will notice that when the key and fill lights are on the same side of the camera, a reflector is used on the opposite side of the subject to fill in the shadows.Paramount LightingParamount lighting, sometimes called butterfly lighting or glamour lighting, is a traditionally feminine lighting pattern that produces a symmetrical, butterfly-like shadow beneath the subjects nose. It tends to emphasize high cheekbones and good skin. It is less commonly used on men because it tends to hollow out cheeks and eye sockets too much.Paramount lightingKey Light. For this lighting setup, the key light is placed high and directly in front of the subjects face, parallel to the vertical line of the subjects nose (see diagram above). Since the light must be high and close to the subject to produce the desired butterfly shadow, it should not be used on women with deep eye sockets, or no light will illuminate the eyes.Fill Light. The fill light is placed at the subjects head height directly under the key light. Since both the key and fill lights are on the same side of the camera, a reflector must be used opposite these lights and in close to the subject to fill in the deep shadows on the neck and shaded cheek.Hair Light. The hair light, which is always used opposite the key light, should light the hair only and not skim onto the face of the subject.Background Light. The background light, used low and behind the subject, should form a semicircle of illumination on the seamless background (if using one) so that the tone of the background grows gradually darker the farther out from the subject you look.Loop LightingLoop lighting is a minor variation of Paramount lighting. This is one of the more commonly used lighting setups and is ideal for people with average, oval-shaped faces.Loop lightingKey Light. To create this setup, the key light is lowered and moved more to the side of the subject so that the shadow under the nose becomes a small loop on the shadow side of the face.Fill Light. The fill light is also moved, being placed on the opposite side of the camera from the key light and close to the camerasubject axis. It is important that the fill light not cast a shadow of its own in order to maintain the one-light character of the portrait. The only position from which you can really observe whether the fill light is doing its job is at the camera. Check carefully to see if the fill light is casting a shadow of its own by looking through the viewfinder.Hair and Background Lights. The hair and background lights are used in the same way as they are in Paramount lighting.Bill McIntosh created this homage to Hollywood lighting using a 31-inch umbrella as a key light and a weak umbrella fill light, about three stops less than the key-light intensity. You can see the Paramount lighting pattern on the man produced a small butterfly-like shadow under the nose. The womans face, because her head was turned slightly toward the light, has more of a loop lighting pattern. A characteristic of the Hollywood style was the weak fill light, which enhanced not only the lighting contrast, but the dramatic nature of the lighting.Rembrandt LightingRembrandt lighting (also called 45-degree lighting) is characterized by a small, triangular highlight on the shadowed cheek of the subject. The lighting takes its name from the famous Dutch painter who used skylights to illuminate his subjects. This type of lighting is dramatic. It is most often used with male subjects, and is commonly paired with a weak fill light to accentuate the shadow-side highlight.Rembrandt lightingKey Light. The key light is moved lower and farther to the side than in loop and Paramount lighting. In fact, the key light almost comes from the subjects side, depending on how far his head is turned from the camera.Fill and Hair Lights. The fill light is used in the same manner as it is for loop lighting. The hair light, however, is often used a little closer to the subject for more brilliant highlights in the hair.Background and Kicker Lights. The background light is in the standard position described above. With Rembrandt lighting, however, kickers are often used to delineate the sides of the face (particularly the shadow side) and to add brilliant highlights to the face and shoulders. When setting such lights, be careful not to allow them to shine directly into the camera lens. The best way to check this is to place your hand between the subject and the camera on the axis of the kicker. If your hand casts a shadow when it is placed in front of the lens, then the kicker is shining directly into the lens and should be adjusted.Allegro Haynes is a talented violinist who plays with the Virginia Symphony and the Harbor String Quartet. She is frequently featured as a solo violinist. Bill McIntosh wanted this portrait to look as if could be a movie set in the eighteenth or nineteenth century. He used a 31-inch umbrella as the key light and a weak umbrella fill set at about three stops less than the key. Two small kickers from the right and left rear of the subject lit her hair, and a small background light illuminated the painted background. The lighting pattern falls between the Rembrandt and loop lighting patterns. Split LightingSplit lighting occurs when the key light illuminates only half the face. It is an ideal slimming light. It can be used to narrow a wide face or nose. It can also be used with a weak fill to hide facial irregularities. For a highly dramatic effect, split lighting can be used with no fill.Split lightingKey Light. In split lighting, the key light is moved farther to the side of the subject and lower than in other setups. In some cases, the key light is actually slightly behind the subject, depending on how far the subject is turned from the camera. Other Lights. The fill light, hair light, and background light are used normally for split lighting.Split lighting divides the face into halvesone side highlighted, one side in shadow. Vicki Taufer used large softboxes to produce a wraparound light on the highlight side of the face and a silver reflector on the shadow side to produce a moderate lighting ratio and good facial modeling.Profile LightingProfile lighting (also called rim lighting) is used when the subjects head is turned 90 degrees from the camera lens. It is a dramatic style of lighting used to accent elegant features. It is used less frequently now than in the past, but it still produces a stylish portrait.Rim lightingKey Light. In rim lighting, the key light is placed behind the subject so that it illuminates the profile of the subject and leaves a polished highlight along the edge of the face. The key light will also highlight the hair and neck of the subject. Care should be taken so that the accent of the light is centered on the face and not so much on the hair or neck.Fill Light. The fill light is moved to the same side of the camera as the key light and a reflector is used to fill in the shadows (see the rim-lighting diagram above).Hair and Background Lights. An optional hair light can be used on the opposite side of the key light for better tonal separation of the subjects hair from the background. The background light is used normally.