Learn these five basic one-light patterns to improve your studio portraits

Aug 30, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Learn these five basic one-light patterns to improve your studio portraits

Aug 30, 2018

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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You don’t have to be new to photography to be new to studio lighting. In this video, Jeff Rojas will help you learn some of the basics fast. He discusses five essential studio lighting patterns, and knowing them will help you improve and add versatility to your studio portraits. And the best thing is – you can achieve all of them using just one light.

1. Flat lighting

With flat lighting, you get a very direct form of light with not much contrast and shadows. You can achieve it by placing the light so it faces your subject directly. Just as the name suggests, this light is very flat, so if you want to get some contrast, you can use the next pattern.

2. Butterfly lighting

The butterfly lighting creates a shadow below the subject’s nose that kinda looks like a butterfly, hence the name. For this lighting pattern, place the light high above the camera and angle it down towards your subject. It helps accentuate the jawline and cheekbones of your model and adds some more contrast to your shots. To soften the shadows, you can always modify the light and make it larger and more diffused.

3. Rembrandt lighting

The Rembrandt lighting is another beautiful lighting pattern, often used in painting, cinematography as well as photography. It’s characterized by a small triangle of light on either the left or right side of your subject’s face.

To achieve this lighting pattern, keep your light above the subject just as in the previous case, but move it to the side at about 45 degrees. Tweak the light until you get that small triangle underneath the subject eye. Just like in the previous case, you can diffuse the light so you get a more subtle triangle and reduce the contrast. Jeff points out that it’s the placement of the light that determines the pattern, and not the quality of light.

4. Split lighting

Split lighting creates drama and mystery in your images. So, if this is what you need for your project, move the light to either the left or right of your subject at a 90-degree angle. You’ll get an even split on the subject’s face.

5. Loop lighting

Finally, loop lighting is another simple setup that you can create with just one light. Raise the light above the subject’s face and move it to the side until you get a small shadow right below their nose. Position-wise, this is something between the butterfly and the Rembrandt lighting. It helps create a natural feel of lighting in an image. And just like in the previous cases, you can make the light softer so it creates less prominent shadows on the subject’s face.

[The 5 Basic Patterns of Light | Jeff Rojas]

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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