Rembrandt lighting: Portraits With Flashing Or Permanent Light

Rembrandt lighting is particularly suitable for portraits or especially for beauty portraits. It is named after the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, who often used this type of light hitting a face for his particularly characteristic pictures.

The final photo

The good thing about this lighting setup is that it can be implemented with very simple means. Because even with a permanent light it is easy to do – of course, not only a permanent light but also a flash head with a softbox is possible to achieve the desired effect. However, this makes it a little more difficult to implement and certainly requires a few more attempts. On the other hand, if you work with flashes from Rollei, for example, you can use the modeling light to see the later light guidance and the shadow cast beforehand. In this case, for example, you can see whether the triangle is visible under the eye or not. If it is visible with the modeling light and the flash is correctly positioned, then you only have to worry about the light intensity.


In order to be able to implement it, the main light has to be above the model’s head, but it is strongly shifted to the side. This creates a very striking triangle of light on the shaded cheek of the face that points towards the camera, which can also be seen in Rembrandt’s pictures.

For the rembrandt lighting, the respective light shaper must be placed diagonally at the top left or right in front of the model and also be raised so that the characteristic drawing with the light triangle can arise at all. An indication that you have done everything right with the structure is that the shadow of the nose is sloping (depending on the structure) to the right or left and then connects with the shadow of the cheek.
It is important – especially when setting up this light setup – that the model no longer moves its head after the precise alignment of the light. Because if movement takes place, it can already change the entire structure, which would result in a laborious reorientation of the light. After a little practice, however, the rembrandt lighting should no longer be a problem.


In this case, the light source came from the left, so that a striking strand of model Alina was particularly beautifully staged and illuminated up to the hairline. The left half of the face is primarily illuminated, creating a somewhat mysterious atmosphere, which ensures that the picture is more exciting to look at.
Depending on your taste, you can decide whether to take the picture in color or in black and white. In this case, we decided on black and white because it is classic and timeless and at the same time underlines the mysterious atmosphere that the rembrandt lighting brings with it.

Practical exercises

First you need to find an object for photography (live person, dog won’t work), then start practicing different types of light.
” Moth”

Don’t forget the wide and short patterns of highlights and practice each type of light with a couple of styles. Do not worry about other parameters at this very moment. It is worth focusing on the study and application of light types only in portrait photography. As light sources, you can use a window or a floor lamp with a bare or sun lamp. It is best to use flash for professional photographers, because only at the end of the photo you can see the play of light and shadow on the face. You can start exploring the wide and short light by placing the object directly in front of you.

The article was prepared on the basis of the site
The first step is knowing what you want to achieve with your image. This is important, because only in this way can you determine which techniques you need to use in order to obtain the intended frames. Try to collect some sample images that you want to simulate. Then take some time to review it and study the nature of the lighting.

Pay attention to whether it is natural or studio light. If it is the second, then what is the quantity and at what angle with respect to the object that was used? Such an analysis will help you determine what is necessary for your own business and give you much greater chances of getting the desired result.

Natural light

Using daylight can be a very good option to get a more accurate, clear and natural look to your photos. Many professional photographers like to use light from the window for portraits. With this method, you can control the amount of light with blinds or blinds, as well as change the range and angle of inclination according to the configuration of the window.

When working outdoors, you must be careful in choosing the right time of day to photograph. It is preferable to avoid periods when the sun shines. Then the light works very brightly and sharply. It is better to choose the time in the morning early or late in the evening, when the light fades and becomes warmer. This will allow you to avoid overexposure and strong contrasts.

If necessary, when working with natural light, you can use a direct reflector. This will allow you to avoid shadow on the face, as you can direct the reflected light from an angle to it

Studio light

Using studio lighting shouldn’t be a complicated science. For some photographers who always shoot in broad daylight, this might seem a daunting prospect. But it is worth noting that the use of lighting fixtures provides a lot of advantages. Therefore, it is recommended that you take some time to become familiar with the wisdom of artificial light. It is worth it.

The main advantage of studio lighting is that you can control the lighting, its strength, and the angle at which it is directed toward your subject. This opens up a sea of ​​creative possibilities unavailable using natural light.

For starters, you can take one stable artificial light source. Experiment his situation in relation to the subject matter and see how it affects your shots. You can still achieve natural-looking frames, as you only have one light source, just like in sunlight. Only now you have more control and that’s a clear advantage.

Light corners

Once your objects are successfully positioned, you can move on to using portable lighting to get the desired lighting. Carry it around. Thus, you can effectively control the angle and amount of light falling on the object.

You will find that seemingly small changes lead to big changes to the image. Therefore, do not start with sudden movements. Just experiment by adjusting the light and taking test shots. In this case, the topic remains static. Lighting moves only.

Multiple sources of artificial light

Once you feel you can control a single studio installation, consider using a slightly more complex set, which includes two or more lamps. There are actually many possibilities for arranging the lights and it all depends on your imagination and what you want to achieve.


In portrait photography, you strive to capture the subject in the best possible way. This means that you seek to combine the main traits of the character into one framework, which requires a lot of skills, and possibly luck.

However, to help yourself, make sure you are not using too much light, making the extra face flat. It is important that there are different tones that are dictated by the features of the face. Due to the excessive abundance of light, a distinctive feature may completely disappear, and you will lose the natural interest and depth of the frame.

Shadows good and bad
When powerful light sources are used, shading can easily occur on walls and ceilings. This is not always a bad thing. You can do this on purpose to use it in the frame. But they can also add excessive gloominess to your image. As a general rule, if you don’t plan shades, their random look in the frame won’t work in the best way. So, just make sure not to create it.

rembrandt lighting

The position of the camera

After your body has taken on a useful position, even if you look at it well, it is important not to focus on what you have achieved. When changing the angle of lighting, don’t forget to use different angles as well. Some photographers prefer to use a tripod, which is completely natural, but if you use studio lighting, you can reach for lighting strong enough to take pictures with your hands. Shooting from above, from below, from the side or above the head – all this will depict the subject in a completely different way. So don’t be afraid to wander around to see which camera angles are best for taking a particular photo.

rembrandt lighting
Front Portrait of Giorgi during the Photography Studio class. Side Ilumination.

Eye contact

One of the golden rules of portrait photography is to make sure you have eye contact or at least one eye for the subject. Of course, there are very successful exceptions to the rules, but that’s lucky. To create a strong connection between the viewer and the object, it must be ensured that there is at least one eye of the person being photographed visible in the frame.

Beginner photographers are usually afraid of studios like fire. Studio equipment seems difficult to handle; Others argue that shooting in the studio is boring. These are the most common misconceptions.

Now in almost every city you can rent a photo studio. Most of them are from the inside, which allows you to solve many problems. But I recommend starting to study light painting in this studio, as there are no other scenes except for a black and white background. Thus, you will place special emphasis on the pattern and you will be able to see how the arrangement of lamps around it creates a particular black and white pattern.

rembrandt lighting
NIKON D800 / 24.0-70.0 mm f / 2.8 Fixings: ISO 125, F5, 1/200 s, 62.0 mm.

Techniques and settings

I’m shooting a Nikon D800, switching two lenses: Nikon Zoom 24-70mm f / 2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Zoom and Nikkor 50mm f / 1.8D AF Nikkor Repair. A zoom lens is suitable for first-person shooting in a studio: plans can be changed quickly. A fixed lens suits any photographer: it’s inexpensive, but it gives a very sharp image, especially in a covered aperture. And an open slot in the studio is rarely used.

For shooting in the studio, it is not necessary to have expensive photo equipment. The camera is of any suitable level, from amateurs to professionals. For example, the Nikon D7200 and Nikon D5500 both do an excellent job in studio photography. The main condition for working with light is the presence of a conductor for installing the synchronizer, or, as it is called, a “hot shoe”. You also need the ability to manually control ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. Don’t let this intimidate you, because in reality the shutter speed does not affect the amount of light entering the viewfinder. For studio photography, it should be 1 / 125-1 / 200, with sync exposure equal, and typically fall in the range of 1 / 160-1 / 200, depending on the camera model. If the shutter speed turns out to be shorter than the synchronization values, black streaks of the shutter blinds will appear in the images. The studio ISO value is always set at a minimum: ISO 100 or ISO 200, which is determined by the capabilities of the camera. That is, your corrector only when shooting will be the diaphragm.

At the beginning of the shooting, take a few test shots and set all necessary indicators. When choosing optics, remember that it is inconvenient to work with a telephoto lens (above 85 mm), as in a studio there may simply not be enough space to photograph the model at full height.

rembrandt lighting
NIKON D800 / 24.0-70.0 mm f / 2.8 SETTINGS: ISO 80، F3.2، 1/200 s، 24.0 mm equiv.

Light circuits

Today I’ll show you some simple lighting schemes that you can use to ensure a foolproof result.

When working with light sources, use a synchronizer. Connect it to the external flash connector on the camera to control light sources using the sync receiver, which is connected to a lamp. Make sure this lamp is on when shooting, then sync will work. Taking pictures for this article, I used nozzles for lighting: oktoboks, softboxes, reflector and boxbox. A reflector was also used.