Self Portrait - Rembrandt Light

I’m still stuck at home, just like everybody else.  So that means no models thus more self-portrait work.  For this most recent self-portrait, my inspiration was Roman Empresses and to add a bit of challenge I used Rembrandt lighting.

Light Set Up
For this shoot the background was some window blinds and lighting was provided by one 430EXIII-RT speed light with a Lumiquest soft box attached.  The speed was set at a ¼ power with 24mm zoom. The speed light was placed on a light stand located 15 degrees left of center and raised above me and pointed down. The camera which was my Canon 80D with an 18-200mm lens was positions at 45 degrees right of center and pointed at my face. For this self-portrait session I used ISO 100, with an aperture of f4.0 and a shutter speed of either a 1/125s  or 1/250s and at focal lengths of 24mm and 28mm. 

There were two challenges to creating this photo. The first challenge was getting the lighting right and the second was positioning my head so the lighting would be correct.  Rembrandt lighting creates a small triangle of light opposite the light source and characterized by having the subject nose create a long shadow across the face that meets the shadow of the cheek.  So, while the lights may be in the right position (I used a protractor and ruler to get the angles right) I had to make sure I was looking in the proper direction or I would change the lighting effect. If I looked to much towards the light, I would get light my whole face, if I looked away from the light too much, I would have side lighting.  I ended up shooting 44 frames and only 5 truly met the definition of Rembrandt lighting.  The other interesting thing about the images is Rembrandt lighting is usually darker and low key,  while these shots are bright and closer to high key.

ISO 100, Aperture F4, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 24mm 
To finalize the images, I edited them first in Lightroom to do the basic adjustments.  I did not do anything fancy in light room. I basic ensured the color setting was Adobe Portrait, reduced some of the red and orange tones to even out the skin, and balanced the exposure slightly.  Then cropped all the images before sending them over to Photoshop.  In photoshop I removed my blemishes and smoothed my skin using the frequency separation technique.  I also attempted a few edits using Luminar 4 just to compare the edits to photoshop.  I found I like using photoshop more for blemish removal and skin smoothing.  I don’t do major beauty retouching on my images, such as eye enlargement, eyebrow enhancement, and face sliming because they are higher skill level edits then I’m capable of in photoshop. Luminar allows me to do those edits with some simple sliders; however, I don’t like doing them because it can make the image seem unnatural. Also, I believe face slimming and eye enlargement starts to get into the realm of false beauty standards. I’m all for removing of blemishes like zits and evening out skin tone because that can be accomplished with skillfully applied make-up. I realize there are also tricks to make-up application that can make your face look slimmer and your eyes look bigger but digitally changing features I believe is a no-no.  It is one thing to remove a blemish or get rid of a stray hair,  it is another thing to completely change a person’s face shape.


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