How To Shadow Both Sides Of Face Photography

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Sculpting Faces With Shadow

Shadows give your portraits a sense of depth and shape. Here’due south how to achieve the ‘Rembrandt’ lighting pattern, and turn a grey background to nigh black.

This portrait is all nigh decision-making the tones across an image to create only the correct mix of involvement and sophistication. Here’south how you tin do it.

Shaping the face

I’ve positioned a large, hexagonal softbox to Marker’s right. Information technology’s merely far enough forward that a patch of light has formed a triangle on his left cheek, and a catchlight in his left heart. This lighting style is referred to as ‘Rembrandt lighting’, named after the famous painter, who lit many of his subjects in this way for his portraits.

The light’south intensity is strongest on Marker’s correct side, nearer the low-cal source. It and then feathers gradually over the front of his face until it becomes night shadow on Marker’s left. Shadowing gives a face shape and depth, and tin can either broaden or slim the face’s advent, so it’due south essential to control how and where the shadows fall.

I took this photograph in our sometime, much smaller studio. It had white walls and a white ceiling, which had the occasional do good of bouncing a piffling low-cal effectually. This replicated the effect of a reflector, or a fill-in low-cal on a very low setting. Of course, you larn to adapt to the infinite yous’re shooting in, so I took advantage of this feature to reduce contrast in my portraits, as equally happened here.

Shades of grayness

The background backside Mark is really grey paper, but as there’s then fiddling light reaching it, it appears well-nigh black. However, you can see that’southward Mark’s left ear and side of his head are silhouetted against the backdrop. That’s because there’s just enough light from the softbox falling on it that information technology’s slightly more than illuminated than the dark side of Mark, resulting in not only a silhouette just besides separation.

I love using a narrow tonal range to create an epitome, so you’ll discover that I’ve matched the nighttime grayness background to Marking’s gray suit and black shirt. Mark’s face is the lightest role of the shot, and so our eye is immediately fatigued towards information technology (e’er my goal in portraiture).

I’ve cropped into Mark’s hairline to place his optics on the top line according to the rule of thirds. This rule provides a guide to the most impactful place with a frame to place cardinal elements. To understand information technology, imagine two equally spaced horizontally lines that dissever the image into thirds, overlaid with ii equally spaced vertically lines that split up the image the other manner, giving ix identical boxes. Placing a key element such as your subject area’s face or eyes on i of the lines is a big compositional tick. Placing that element on one of the four intersections (where the lines cantankerous) is even ameliorate.

With all these complementary tones and compositional rule-following, the epitome was getting a little likewise harmonious, so I’ve cropped the shot with Mark’s body facing towards the left edge of the frame. This introduces a little visual tension, helping to go on everything a trivial more interesting. The result is a simple, 1-lite studio shot with depression central tones and lots of sophistication.


Camera Settings

  • Focal length: 195mm

  • Discontinuity: f/9

  • Shutter speed: ane/125 sec

  • ISO: 50


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