Dramatic lighting

Dramatic lighting is…

…using light as an effect for a specific reason, strong directional lighting of a light source from a specific angle for a meaning and/or strengthen the emotion given.
Most obvious examples are one part totally dark and other part very light faces, as I have seen during my researches.
There are breathtaking dramatic lighting examples from historical paintings, like the one I know for so long for his dark style, Italian painter Caravaggio(1572-1610). In his paintings you can see light and dark contrasts’ dramatic impression. “His realistic approach to the human figure, painted directly from life and dramatically spotlit against a dark background, shocked his contemporaries and opened a new chapter in the history of painting.” says Wikipedia.
You can google ‘baroque painting‘; and also took my attention (1577-1640)Peter Paul Rubens‘ paintings‘ mythological subjects; there is more than that in his other paintings too, but that mythological subjects especially are so interesting to me.

I detected dramatic lighting example in one of ABBA‘s video clips, Money Money Money, 1976.


Money is a very dramatic topic after all, isn’t it?

Here is an example from a movie by Clint Eastwood, Gran Torino, 2008. In this movie’s poster, dramatic lighting is used so well, you can google and see. Here I drop a drawing of a more plain version of the movie posters.

gran torino clint eastwood drawing

Dramatic lighting and a silhouette. White derwent and coloring pencils on black carton.

This example was given in my previous post for ‘lighting face from back‘, Queensryche, Operation Mindcrime, 1988.

drmatic lighting operation mindcrime

Another example I am so keen on to give because I just watched two days ago, Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, 1975, while preparing this post. So I watched the movie with ‘dramatic lighting detecting eyes‘. Especially in the scenes shot only with candles (which is true by the way) were great examples.

To achieve photography without electric lighting “[f]or the many densely furnished interior scenes… meant shooting by candlelight,” which is known to be difficult in still photography, “let alone with moving images.”
Although Kubrick’s express desire was to avoid electric lighting where possible, most shots were achieved with conventional lenses and lighting, but were lit to deliberately mimic natural light rather than for compositional reasons.‘ from Wikipedia.

barry lyndon 1

Another thing got me from the movie, is that in some scenes things fall into their places in the most natural way and the whole image looks like a great painting. Can’t help sharing another screenshot from the movie.

barry lyndon 4.png

I’d say that is a painting. The movie won 4 Oscars for its costumes and cinematography, and more…

So you can apply this knowledge in your compositions when you want or think it is needed. I gathered the examples I came across. If you have anything on mind about the topic please leave a comment below, I’d be glad to hear it ^^
See you in the next post.



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