because it rarely looks attractive, and it is usually not
appropriate for a person in a military uniform. While you
are trying to induce the expression that will show off the
subject to the best advantage, be particularly observant
of the details necessary to maintain a neat appearance
and good composition.
FUNDAMENTAL PORTRAIT LIGHTING
The success of a portrait is equally dependent on
lighting as on the pose of the subject. The manner in how
the subject is lighted can actually set the mood of a
portrait. The best portrait lighting will simulate natural
sunlight. This is because we are accustomed to seeing
faces illuminated from above and to one side with
shadows cast downward and on one side or the other.
Light coming from below eye level casts shadows
upward and produces an unnatural, ghastly effect. Good
portrait lighting shows off the subject to the best
advantage, emphasizing the form and expressiveness of
the facial features. When lighting appears pleasing and
natural in a portrait, it produces prominent highlights on
the forehead, nose, cheeks, and chin with enough
shadows to round out the facial features.
Lighting for a studio portrait normally requires at
least two lights. One of these is the main, modeling, or
key light; the other is the fill or fill-in light.
Portrait lighting is divided into various types called
lightings. Some of these lightings are as follows: broad,
short, butterfly, Rembrandt, split, and rim. These names
have been assigned because of the visual effects the
lighting creates when it falls on the subject from a given
direction. This visual effect is derived from the
modeling light. Other light sources that may be added
to the modeling light to enhance the subject are as
Broad lightingThe main light completely
illuminates the side of the face turned toward the
Short lightingThe main light completely
illuminates the side of the face turned away from the
Butterfly lightingThe main light is placed
directly in front of the face and casts a shadow directly
under the nose.
Rembrandt lightingThis is a combination of
short and butterfly lighting. The main light is placed
high and to the side of the face turned away from the
camera and produces a triangle of light on the side of
the face in shadow.
Split lighting-The modeling light is placed to
light completely one side of the face while placing the
other side of the face in shadow.
Rim lighting-The modeling light is placed
behind the subject and places the entire face in shadow.
The main light is often called the modeling light
because it is used to model the face (or subject). The
main light creates a three-dimensional effect by either
emphasizing or de-emphasizing the curvature and
characteristic features of the face with highlights and
shadows. The modeling light should always be the one
dominant light source in a portrait because it controls
the direction of the shadows.
The direction of the main light establishes four basic
portrait lightings. These basic lightings are as follows:
three-quarter lighting, side lighting, frontlighting, and
backlighting. When reading other books on portrait
lighting, you will often encounter other names
depending on what the author wanted to call the
lightings. You, as a Navy Photographers Mate, will
mostly be concerned with three-quarter (broad and
short) and front (butterfly) lighting.
We also designate each of our lightings as high,
medium, and low for vertical position. To go further, we
designate the lighting as right or left of the subject.
These lighting positions change with each subject.
When setting portrait lights, you should always study
the effect and view the subject from the camera position,
preferably through the viewfinder.
Broad and short lighting are two types of
three-quarter lighting, and they are the types that you
most often use for official portraits. The only difference
between the two is the position of the main light and the
way it illuminates the subject.
Short lighting is used for people with a normal
shaped face or people who have a wide face. When short
lighting is used, the side of the subjects face that is away
from the camera is illuminated. This puts the side of the
face towards the camera in shadow. By putting the side
of the face towards the camera in shadow, you can
provide a slimming effect.