Sidetop lighting

Sometimes referred to as Rembrandt lighting, as it copies the way that the famous artist used to light the main figures in his paintings, with this setup the light is positioned above and to one side of the subject. This provides both texture and form to the face, and is by far the most popular set-up used by portrait photographers (see Figure 23.4).

To get the position of the light just right, make sure that:

• there is a twinkle of light in the subject's eyes (called a 'catch light'); and

• there is a triangle of light on the side of the face that is opposite to the light source.

Figure 23.3 Front lighting.

'Okay,' I hear you say, 'this is all well and good in the studio with movable lights, but I don't have that luxury.' The trick is to use the principles of these lighting set-ups with any source that you have available.

If you are photographing outside, it will not be possible to move the sun to just the right position, so instead move the subject. If the sun is too high, then tilt the subject's head up a little, or wait until the sun moves lower in the sky before photographing.

It is important to teach yourself to see how the lighting in your environment is falling on your subject and then either modify the lighting to suit (e.g. move the study lamp on the side desk this way or that), or change the position of your subject to take advantage of the lighting that is available.

Figure 23.5 Lighting from above.
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