If you want to make your models look gorgeous, you might want to try split lighting photography.

The technique is all about creating a soft, lovely light that gives your model a beautiful, radiant glow.

It’s easy to do and can be done in many different situations, whether you’re shooting on a cloudy day or it’s an overcast evening.

Split lighting photography is a portrait lighting technique that was popular in fashion magazines in the 1940s.

Today it’s still commonly used in professional photography and other forms of art. It’s also sometimes referred to as sidelight or 3/4 lighting.

Toward the end of the 19th century, photographers began using artificial light sources for portraits.

This posed a problem, though, because artificial light sources tend to be placed on one side of the subject when using a softbox or umbrella.

The resulting shadows usually fall on one side of a person’s face and body, giving them an odd look.

Split lighting solves this problem by creating a shadow across only part of the face and body, leaving the opposite side illuminated. The result is a more even appearance with less contrast and dimension than would be achieved with full lighting.

split lighting photography

What Is split lighting photography?

Split lighting is the type of portrait lighting with one side of the face fully lit, and the other half in full shadow.

Most photographers are in love with Rembrandt Lighting, and that’s fine. But there’s a reason why you can see a lot more split lighting than Rembrandt Lighting on Instagram: because it makes you look like a movie star.

Split lighting has been a long-time favorite of fashion photographers because it creates very strong facial features by creating shadows and highlights.

The key to successful split lighting is to make the light come directly from the side so that only one half of your subject’s face is lit up.

If you want to add drama to your photos, use split light, placing the light slightly over your subject’s eye level. This will create a shadow cast across their nose which will separate them from their background.



What Is Split Lighting Photography?

Split lighting is one of the easiest ways to create flattering light for portrait photography.

The term “split” refers to half of the face being lit with light coming from one side, and the other half is illuminated with light coming from the other side.

The key to this type of lighting is getting your subject to look at the primary light source so that their eyes are evenly exposed on both sides.

You can use natural light for this technique if you’re shooting outdoors.

However, you’ll have more control if you use an artificial light source like an off-camera flash or studio strobe.

When using natural light, try using a reflector or diffuser to bounce some light back into your subject’s face so that one side isn’t darker than the other.

You can also try using windows and mirrors to bounce some daylight into different parts of their face.

To achieve split lighting, you’ll need two lights on the left and one on your subject’s right (or front and back).

Ideally, both lights should be on stands to be raised or lowered relative to your subject’s height while remaining at an equal distance from their left and right sides.

They should also be set to provide even illumination — not too bright or too dim — directly toward your subject’s face.

What Is Split Lighting Photography Used For?

Split lighting photography is a technique for taking portraits that can be dynamic, dramatic and highly expressive. 

Split lighting is most effective when the subject of your photo is looking into the light.

It can produce genuinely stunning effects when combined with available light or flash photography.

TIP: For even more dynamic results, use two or more lights to illuminate your subject at different angles.

Split lighting is ideal for fashion photography, product photography, and glamour photography. 

You can also use it to create striking self-portraits, especially when you look down the camera lens with a slight upward tilt of your head.

How to Create Split Lighting ImagesIn split lighting photography, one side of your subject will be lit by direct light from your primary light source, while the other half will be in shadow. 

This can produce several different effects depending on how you position yourself and the subject.

If you have an assistant helping you (or even a friend) with this kind of portrait shoot, make sure they know where to stand so that one side of your subject is lit as brightly as possible without blowing out any highlights (a common problem with softboxes).

 With practice and experience, you’ll learn to predict – and control – where the shadows will fall on your


Half Face Lighting In Photography

There are many different rules you can go by when it comes to taking pictures. 

But in photography, the best thing you can do is learn the rules and then forget them when necessary.

Trying to force yourself to follow all of these rules can make you miss out on some pretty good shots.

 I have been trying to take a photo for a few days now, but it isn’t working because I am following too many of these rules.

Let us look at each of the techniques here and explain why I think they don’t work all the time. 

One thing that seems to be a big deal among photographers is the rule of thirds

This rule is basically doing your best to break up your photo into thirds and getting your subject somewhere in those thirds.


This doesn’t always work as well as it should, though. Take a look at this picture:  This shot has several things wrong because of this rule.

First off, the trash cans should not be where they are in this shot. 

They are way too close to my subject. Also, the fence has no place being shown in this shot either; it really isn’t needed by any means. 

The next thing wrong with this photo is that he is sitting too much.

Split Lighting Setup In Photography

Split lighting is a photographic technique used to create more dramatic portraits of faces and figures. 

It involves using two lights placed on opposite sides of the subject.

The ‘split’ in the name comes from how the two light sources are arranged so that they illuminate different halves of the subject’s face.

TECHNIQUE: The equipment required for this type of setup is relatively simple, consisting only of two flash units, a tripod and a background to separate the subject.

The most important thing about this technique is its effect on light, which can be adjusted depending on what kind of look you want to achieve. 

You need to position your lights on either side of your subject, one directly behind them (known as a rim light) and one in front (the key light).

The distance between these two lights depends on how much contrast you’re hoping to achieve in your shot. 

By using two contrasting light sources, this technique really helps define the subject by creating shadows around their face and body.

In fact, if you take away the background and any other contextual elements in your image, it should still be possible to identify the person by the shape created by their shadows alone.

When Should You Use Split Lighting In Photography?

Split lighting is a type of soft lighting that can be easily achieved by placing a light source in front of your subject, about a foot to the right or left. 

This setup allows for a beautifully diffused light which is highly flattering.

Trying to learn photography? Start with some essential tips and tricks and then move on to more advanced concepts. 

Split Lighting is also known as Rembrandt Lighting, as this type of lighting is commonly used by the artist Rembrandt in his paintings.

The setup of this type of lighting gives off the illusion that the subject is being lit from a single source when two different light sources are being used. 

There are no hard shadows, which makes for an easy editing process when trying to fix harsh shadows and highlights.

When should you use it? This type of lighting works best for products that can be shot straight on. 

As you can see in the example below, if you turn the product at an angle, you lose the effect that makes this type of lighting desirable.

This type of lighting works excellent for 

  • Portraits – especially close up shots where you want to hide skin imperfections 
  • Products – especially products where you don’t want to see any shadows Food – when shooting food, picture it.

How To Create Split Lighting In Photography: Step-By-Step

Split lighting is a prevalent portrait lighting technique used by both amateur and professional photographers around the world. 

Tried-and-true, this type of lighting has been used for decades.

It’s an ideal choice for portraiture because it produces flattering light and shadows on the face.

”Split lighting” is a term used to describe an effect produced by placing a light source at a 45-degree angle to the subject’s face.

This setup produces a small patch of light on one side of the face while leaving the other side in shadow. 

Here are some tips to help you create this effect in your own images: Set your light source at a 45-degree angle to the subject’s face. 

It doesn’t have to be precisely 45 degrees, but it should definitely not be more than 60 degrees off-centre.

This will produce dramatic shadows on one side of the face, leaving the other side bathed in soft, even light. 

Use a medium softbox or umbrella as your primary light source. 

These types of lights are perfect for creating sharp, defined shadows while still maintaining good overall illumination.

Set up additional lights as fill lights — these will help to illuminate dark areas like under the eyes and cheekbones, resulting in a more even appearance across

Split Lighting vs Rembrandt Lighting

Split, and Rembrandt lighting is two of the most widely used lighting patterns for portrait photography. Both of these patterns tell a story.

They are storytelling techniques that can create portraits with beautiful, emotional appeal. 

Telling a story through your images is a powerful way to connect with your audience.

The emotional connection you make with your audience will leave them wanting more. 

So let’s look at the differences between split lighting and Rembrandt lighting.

What is Rembrandt Lighting? Rembrandt lighting is created by making one side of the face brighter than the other. 

This creates shadows under the nose and under the chin that direct attention towards the lit side of the face. 

The term “Rembrandt” comes from an old theory that claims painters such as Rembrandt would put mirrors in front of their subjects to reflect light onto one side of their face while leaving the other side dark, thus creating this effect.

This technique was popularised by John Singer Sargent, a portrait painter in the late 1800s.

 He used this technique a lot in his paintings, and it’s still widely used today by photographers and painters alike.

What is Split Lighting?

Effects Of Split Lighting Photography

Split lighting is one of the most valuable techniques in your photography toolbox. It is terrific for producing moody and dramatic images.

The effect can be subtle or extreme, depending on the look you want. Tungsten Lighting.

Tungsten lighting produces very harsh light. It often makes people look older than they really are and accentuates lines and wrinkles that detract from their appearance.

Tungsten lighting also casts shadows on the side of the face that is not lit directly by the light source. 

To obtain a split lighting effect with tungsten lighting, position your subject with their back to the window.

Position yourself in between the light and your subject so that you are in partial shadow, but your subject’s face is still lit by the window light.

 This will create more direct sunlight on their face while you remain in partial shadow.

Daylight Lighting. Daylight provides softer, more flattering light than tungsten lighting, but it still has shadows.


To achieve a split lighting effect with daylight, position your subject with their back to the window or doorway so that there will be no direct sunlight on their face.

Position yourself off to one side, so you are lit by natural light and cast.

How To Create A Split Lighting Setup In Photography

When it comes to photography, a split lighting setup is a lighting setup composed of two lights. 

One light, the key light, lights the subject and is placed in front of the camera.

The other light, the fill light, is placed opposite the key light on the side facing away from the camera. 

Trying to get your subject lit adequately without a fill light can make your subject appear flat and uninteresting.

For instance, if you only use one light to create your shot (a key light), all of your subject’s facial features will be illuminated.

 If you’re taking a portrait of someone with dark hair, such as a man with black hair or a woman with dark brown hair, then that person will have very pronounced shadows on their face since there will be no fill light providing additional illumination for those areas.

A split lighting setup solves this problem by illuminating your subject with two different lights. 

Your primary source of illumination (the key light) illuminates your subject’s facial features. 

In contrast, the secondary source of lighting (the fill light) fills in the shadows created by your primary source of illumination so that they are not as noticeable in your final image.