If there’s one method photographers love to light with, it’s Rembrandt Lighting. Lots of folks who think they know what it is don’t actually get it right. This roundup puts the spotlight on Rembrandt Lighting, but we’re not just sticking to this method alone! We’ll also help you out with the tools to get the shot.

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Below, you’ll find a bunch of original photography cheat sheets we’ve made. There are also a few tips with links to our fuller blog posts for more information. We hope these tips will help you get the Rembrandt Lighting you’re after.

A Primer to Rembrandt Lighting

Rembrandt lighting is a lighting technique that draws upon the principle of chiaroscuro: the use of contrasts in lighting to lend a sense of dimensionality to your images. It’s one of the most popular portrait lighting techniques due to the fact that it works well across many different face types. A subject lit using Rembrandt lighting is characterized by the following:

  • one side of the subject’s face is perfectly illuminated
  • most of the opposite side of the subject’s face will be in the shadows aside from an upside-down triangle of light that illuminates a portion of the subject’s cheek

When done properly, Rembrandt lighting can resemble window light and lends a natural look to your portraits. This makes sense, as that was the only source of light that was consistently available during Rembrandt’s time (with the exception of candlelight).

Check out more in this blog post.

Using a Softbox? Here’s What You Should Know

“Under most circumstances, softboxes and other photography lighting are most effective when used indoors. The ambient light generated by the Sun becomes much less of an issue when working indoors. Depending on the environment you’re photographing in, you may be able to eliminate it altogether. Using a softbox indoors gives you a great deal of control over lighting. Since you don’t have to overpower the Sun, it’s also easier to utilize a softbox as your key light. Want a softer quality of light? Place the softbox closer to your subject. Want harder light? Increase the distance between your softbox and your subject. Ultimately, how and where you position your softbox in relation to your subject will determine the look of the final image.”

Check out more in this blog post.

The Best Time of Day for Rembrandt Lighting

“To get Rembrandt Lighting, a photographer can shoot at pretty much any time of the day, but the best time is whenever your window has the most direct light. To figure out what time that is, periodically look at the light in your studio or home. Take notice of how dark the shadows are at a specific time. Then also consider the weather conditions. If you’re shooting on a cloudy day, the light is going to be softer than usual. But if the sky is super bright, the sun will be able to soak through, providing you have a clear view of it. Of course, it doesn’t always work.”

Check out more in this blog post.

Flash vs Constant Lighting? Our Staff Prefers Flash

“Perhaps the biggest reason why we prefer flash has to do with the signature pop you see in the results. The output from flash works differently than constant lighting. Flash has what’s called flash duration. This acts as a second shutter speed. With studio strobes, it can deliver a flash duration of over 1/1000th. The flash duration gives an extra layer of crispness and sharpness to your photos. The flash duration combined with specular highlights is really worthwhile.”

Check out more in this blog post.