Rembrandt Lighting

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© Claudia Agudelo

© Claudia Agudelo

Photo Life is proud to partner with Seneca students to document their journey through the school curriculum. This week Claudia Agudelo shares about Rembrandt lighting.

Class: Photography III

Assignment: Create a public service announcement ad.
Student: Claudia Agudelo

Professor: Patrick Fordham
Assignment guidelines: Use one of six lighting patterns and create a PSA ad.

I chose to photograph a PSA on teen pregnancy. I decided on this subject because most people nowadays turn a blind eye to the subject or judge without knowing the situation. I’m not proud to admit it, but I too was one of those people. It wasn’t until recently that my eyes were opened when someone close to me got pregnant at the age of 15; it’s been heartbreaking to watch such a young person go through an adult experience. This PSA was the perfect opportunity to use lighting techniques to increase awareness of an overlooked subject.

The first steps of this PSA were to choose the proper lighting to feature my subject in the best possible way, and, of course, to make sure it went with the theme of teen pregnancy. After some brainstorming, I came to the conclusion that Rembrandt lighting would be the best lighting for this PSA.

For those who may not know what Rembrandt lighting is, it is a studio lighting technique used for portrait photography. Rembrandt is the use of light illuminating a triangle under the eye of your subject. Rembrandt lighting is usually achieved by using 2 lights.

In my case I used one soft box and one headlight. The headlight was used to light the background; I also used a paper diffuser to soften the background light. A soft box was used to light the subject’s face. A black reflector was used on the right side to keep the soft box light from spilling completely onto my subject’s face. The black reflector also helped keep the shadows dark, thus creating Rembrandt lighting.

When I finished setting up the lighting for the shot, I adjusted the settings on my camera to shoot at f/11 at 1/125 s. In post, I tweaked the exposure up by +1.15 of a stop. Then I corrected the exposure to what I felt was proper for the image.
For the background type, I layered a type box over the whole image and than masked the type in order to create the illusion that the font was behind the subject. I used illustrator for the foreground font, I did an outer glow on type effects, and then a low-opacity drop shadow and my PSA was complete.

The lighting technique I chose, along with the text, really brought together the image. It is exactly what I had pictured in my mind when the assignment was given out. I truly enjoyed this assignment; I thought it was a great way to use our photography and our lighting skills to make a difference.

The Seneca @ York Independent Digital Photography Program is a two-year diploma course that prepares students for a freelance career and provides them with the necessary skill set to work in a multidisciplinary studio.

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