PHC Carl Hinkle
Figure 7-10.Butterfly lighting.
very close to the camera lens axis and about the subject's
eye level. This creates a flat lighting, and facial feature
characteristics can be lost. By moving the main light
higher, you can create a certain amount of modeling. The
light now creates a little modeling and is still very
flattering and almost foolproof. This lighting is
considered flattering because it does not emphasize lines
or crowfeet around the eyes, wrinkles on the forehead,
or shadows around the mouth. It does, however,
emphasize eyes and eyelashes, especially in females.
The main light should be just high enough to cast a
shadow of the nose about a third of the distance from
the nose to the top edge of the upper lip (fig. 7-10). Each
subject's face and nose is different, so the correct height
for the main light varies slightly. When the subject has
a long nose, the light should be low to shorten the
shadow. When the subject has a short nose, raise the
main light to lengthen the shadow. This has a secondary
effect as well. It adds form below the eyebrow and
accentuates any slight hollowness in the cheeks, giving
a more provocative look.
When making a portrait of a person smiling, you
must shorten the nose shadow because the upper lip
draws up and the shadow goes over the lip. The nose
shadow should not extend over or touch the edge of the
lip. When it does, the lip form is destroyed and it appears
The main light-to-subject distance is again
determined using the forehead highlight test.
The fill-in light is positioned directly below the
main light-close to the camera lens axis and slightly
above the subjects eye level. The intensity of this light
should be about one f/stop less than the main light. The
lighting ratio is established by moving the fill light
closer to or farther away from the subject to increase or
decrease its effect. Balance also can be controlled by
using diffusion screens over the fill-in light.
Although not as flexible as three-quarter lighting,
frontlighting does have some flexibility. The subject's
head can be posed from full face to profile. However,
the nose shadow must always remain under the nose.
Therefore, the main light must be moved with the head;
and as the head moves to the three-quarter or profile
position, the hair light also must be moved. The fill light
is not moved.
Rim lighting is often used when making profile
portraits. Rim lighting is the same as backlighting,
where the subject is lighted from behind causing the
facial features of the profile to be highlighted (fig. 7-11).
Some suggestions to use when taking profile portraits
are as follows:
In a profile portrait, when a person looks straight
ahead, only the whites of the eyes are seen by the
camera. This causes an undesirable effect.
Instead have the eyes cheat-turn the eyes slightly
toward the camera, without turning the head, to
show enough of the iris so the eye can be seen as
an eye, not a white ball.
Have the subject's head tipped back slightly. This
separates the chin from the far shoulder, gives a
better neckline, and reduces the appearance of a
Allow more space on the side of the picture
toward which the eyes are looking. This allows
the subject to look beyond the frame.
If you are interested in learning more about rim
lighting, refer to the reference list in appendix III.