Other Lighting Setups With Only One Light!

by William Lulow

As mentioned in the previous article, if you start with a HOLLYWOOD LIGHT, you can then begin to move the light away from the camera position and create many different results. Moving the light about 45 degrees to either side of the camera, but keeping it at the same height as the HOLLYWOOD LIGHT, produces a lighting that looks like this:


This is what is known as a REMBRANDT LIGHTING and it’s telltale effect is a little window or triangle of light under the opposite eye. The light is placed high and about 45 degrees to one side of the camera, as I mentioned. It’s called a REMBRANDT LIGHT because its effect is similar to the light that the Dutch Masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer achieved in their mostly Northlight studios. In this example, you can also see that the background is a bit lighter because some of the light creating this effect is also spilling over onto the background. Beginning to move the light away from the camera position creates all kinds of interesting shadows on the face. A lighting like this is dramatic and contains much less information than the HOLLYWOOD LIGHT because more shadows are created on the face.

If you keep moving the light to one side until it is 90 degrees to the camera, you will produce another, different effect:


This is called a SIDE LIGHT because it comes from only one side of the subject. It’s a little more severe than the REMBRANDT LIGHT because one side of the face is in complete shadow. Lightings like this are usually used in conjunction with other lights, but for now, we are only concentrating on using ONE LIGHT!

If you continue moving the light around the subject, the next position you would logically arrive at is 45 degrees to the rear of the subject, producing an effect like this:


Here, just the edge of the subject is lit, therefore it is called an EDGE LIGHT. Again, this lighting is most often used in conjunction with other lights because no light actually reaches the face. So, it’s not a lighting you can use by itself.  It is an important one, however,  because it adds highlights to the subject, separating subject and background.

Friday’s article will detail some more positions you can use with just one light! Again, these are the PORTRAIT LIGHTING BASICS you should follow when trying to light your subject for portraiture.