What Rembrandt Can Teach Us About Finding Dramatic Lighting in Landscapes

When someone mentions Rembrandt in connection with photography, you almost certainly think of the lighting of portrait subjects. It turns out, however, that we can take quite a bit about how he treated light and composition and apply it to landscape work as well.

Coming to you from Photo Tom, this great video explores how Rembrandt handled light in his paintings to draw the viewer's attention where he wanted and to heighten drama and how photographers can apply that to their own landscape work. Of course, the catch is that we can't control nature's light like a painter can. However, we can take the principles and apply them to how we read the light, position ourselves and frame shots to bring out certain elements and exclude others, and how we shape the light in post. As the video succinctly puts it: "once you realize it's a game of light and shadow, then you start looking for that, and the world it opens to your eyes is breathtaking." The next time you're shooting landscapes, try composing a few photos purely based on light and shadow with the actual physical elements and their grandness being secondary; you'll find it makes a huge difference in how you think about creating such an image. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Very stunning, I clicked on this article because of that one moonrise photo, it was gorgeous. I suspect it was indeed a single exposure, or at least a "real" scene, since the elements in the scene don't seem exaggerated or unnatural. Either way, stunning work both the paintings and the photography.