The six names mentioned before have been traditionally used to identify portrait lightings. As you read
other literature on lighting you will encounter these terms, so it is necessary that you be familiar with
them. Instead of using these terms in this text, however, we will call the lightings exactly what they are
Three-quarter Lighting = Broad, Short, Rembrandt
Side Lighting = Split
Front Lighting = Butterfly
Back Lighting = Rim
How to Set Lights for Typical Portrait Lightings.
a. Three-quarter Lighting. This type of lighting can be used with almost any type of face. It is
flexible in that once set, the subject can move his head from fullface to profile and the lighting remains
good at any point you choose.
(1) Main light.
(a) The distance of the main light. To determine the main light distance, start with the
light about four feet from the subject and about two feet above the subject's eye level. The light should
be at about a 45 degree angle to the lens axis. Observe the forehead highlight and move the light closer
to the subject; as the light gets closer to the forehead, highlights spread out to a large flat area and begin
to get washed out and lack character. Now start moving the main light away from the subject. As you
slowly move it back you will find there is a point where the forehead highlight becomes relatively small
and bright. If the light is moved back much further from this point the highlight spreads and disappears.
Between the point where the highlight is brightest and where it starts to disappear lies the range where
the highlight still has character and you get the most pleasing effect; not too hard, yet not too soft. Once
you have found the distance where the main light gives the desired effect for this subject, the distance
should remain the same for this subject no matter what position you may later decide to direct the light
This main light distance must be correctly established, otherwise a satisfactory portrait cannot be made.
If the main light is too close or far away, highlight accent is lost. This main light distance should always
be considered as the starting point of portrait lighting.