This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
Shielding The Lens. When making this style of lighting, the lens is pointed partly toward the light and there may be danger of reflection in the lens, which will cause a haze, or fogging of the plate. The lens, therefore, should be shielded with a hood, or cone, to prevent strong light reflecting into it.
Size Of Stop. Make Rembrandt lightings with as large a stop as is possible, and yet secure proper sharpness and definition. Remember, that a small stop will accentuate the shadows and make them deeper and sharper, tending to make both figure and background appear wiry and cause the loss of all atmospheric effect.
Background. The proper background to use for each subject is quite important. A plain, clouded ground, properly lighted, or one gradually blended, will answer for all classes of subjects. The most important point in the use of the background is placing it in the proper light, at the proper distance from the subject, and at the correct angle with the source of light. It is just as essential that the background be illuminated as the subject, for the ground carries out the idea of the lighting on the subject. The background should be placed as far behind the subject as possible, in order to secure the greatest amount of atmosphere. When arranging the diffusing screen, see that the background is properly illuminated. When using a graded or clouded background, see that the light portion is placed directly to the rear of the shadow side of the subject, which will then bring the dark portion of the ground back of the light side of the face, thus supplying relief to the shadows as well as to the high-lights.
Exposure. As more of the subject is in shadow, in Rembrandt Lightings, the amount of exposure necessary to secure full detail in the shadows will be approximately double that required for securing a fully timed negative of a subject, posed in Plain Lighting. It is better to err on the side of over than under-exposure, because any reasonable amount of over-exposure can be overcome in the developing, while in an under-exposed plate it will be difficult to obtain detail in the shadows.
Developing. The formula for the developer, as well as the method for developing Rembrandt Lighting, are given in Volume II.
Practice Work. After having studied the illustrations accompanying this lesson, place the subject under the skylight and first secure the proper angle of light. Do this with the opaque shades on the skylight. See Illustration No. 14. Then, with the diffusing screen diffuse the light to secure the best possible effect of modeling. This accomplished, place the camera and background in position, and if necessary to use any reflected light, turn the reflector until you have secured the desired result. It is usually advisable to have the camera in a position to show a two-thirds view of the face, as in such a position the tip of the nose will just break into the outline of the face, thus producing a more pleasing outline. However, for the sake of practice, it is advisable to make at least two negatives, from different points, one almost a front view, the other about a two-thirds view of the face, just excluding the high-light ear. Upon focusing, it may be found necessary to use the top, or side, swing to obtain a better focus. Give perhaps double the exposure required for Plain or Broad Portrait Lighting. Stop down only enough to give clear definition and develop with Universal Formula for developing. After the plate has been developed, proof prints should be made. Having placed full data on the back of each print, covering the method of procedure, place them in your proof file for future reference.