Previously on The Slanted Lens, we discussed how to light a high key set. Today we are talking about how to properly light a low key set when shooting portraits. We’ve got a dog and a chicken, so you don’t want to miss it!
Definition of a Low-Key Portrait
A Low Key Portrait contains a lot of dark tones and shadows. It is also very characteristic of these low key portraits to have high contrast, such as Rembrandt lighting, which evokes a sense of drama or tension.
Setting Up Rembrandt Lighting
One crucial element on a dark, low key set like this is rim lights. You need to make sure that you create some separation between your subject and the background. I placed rim lights on both sides of the camera to ensure that this happens. Remember, you don’t need this rim light to be too bright! Keep them very subtle, but make sure you always outline your subject.
You can then add a gridded Octodome to the center of your set, above your subject’s head to ensure that you get just a little bit of glow in the middle of your shot and maybe slightly into the background as well. Because I was shooting 2 subjects and the Octodome was favoring Jamie slightly, I decided to add another small grid to Marisa’s face so that they were evenly lit. This also ensures that we get the strong Rembrandt we are looking for.
What is Rembrandt Lighting?
Just to clarify, Rembrandt lighting is a strong profiled portrait style that uses a butterfly light to softly light one half of the face and leaves high contrast shadows where the light does not fall.
Lighting Change from Group Shot to Individual Shot
As you can see below, the lighting we chose differed greatly from group to individual shot. The group shots are much more open, but as you get into individual shots you want to make sure that strong Rembrandt really comes out. In order to really show that Rembrandt, you need to position your key light, in this case the gridded Octodome, directly facing your subject.
Let me know how you are shooting Rembrandts or any other low key sets!
Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!