Shooting Films like the Masters or Vermeer, Rembrandt and that ‘Girl’

You can’t deny that the Master Painters knew lighting.  Our boot camp filmmakers told us learning better lighting was their #1 concern.

So when we saw Bill Bennett, ASC had traveled to Rembrandt’s studio in Holland and shot his “lighting setup”. article we thought we’d light like the master himself.  (see the complete article in Film & Digital Times – Sept 2012 issue.)

Rembrandt's Studio lighting (old and restored)

We blocked off the north-facing windows where we teach our Boot Camps for Canon DSLRs. And we draped a white cloth overhead to approximate Rembrandt’s sketch.

Graham, Fletch and Tom recreate Rembrandt's studio lighting.

Rather than filming a crusty old Rembrandt Van Wyck look-alike, we decided to film our actress, Rachel, who we would costume to resemble ‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’, Vermeer’s famous painting.  Just seeing her in Rembrandt’s north light with the sheet overhead was breathtaking.

Rachel, the actress who will become 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring'

Once in costume, Rachel, brought ‘The Girl’ to life.

girl with the pearl earring - 2013

Notice the light in the eyes.  We hope Rembrandt and Vermeer are smiling on us. Then we wondered if we could duplicate Rembrandt’s north light setup with a couple of Alzo’s PAN-L lite Quads.  Not that other fixtures couldn’t have done it but Drew had asked us to try some of their lights and this was a perfect opportunity.

We pulled the honeycomb grids out of two QUAD Pan-L lites and installed all 5600 K bulbs, and dropped the Alzo’s diffusing material over them.

Rachel, our actress, becomes the 'The Girl with the Pearl Earring' in 21st century lighting

Here’s the two lighting setups side by side.  We haven’t retouched them at all.

"The Girl" - with natural 1665 light, and 2013 Pan-L lite.

We wanted the Pan-L lite to be as wide as Rembrandt’s window so we put up two,  but I think we got a little more “wrap” with two Alzo’s side by side.  Our mistake.

This is just how the Canon 5D Mark III saw Rachel (EF 70-200mm f2.8 IS II USM @ 1250 ISO).

CLICK HERE to see a behind the scenes video of the boot camp’s lighting setup.


As our digital filmmakers indicated, learning how to light is the key to great digital cinematography.  We have two workshops at the Palm Springs Photo Festival at the end of April.  Here’s a link to some of the lighting setups we filmed last year with the Canon 5D Mk II and the Canon 5D Mk III. (below - a scene from ‘Escape’, shot at the Palm Springs Photo Festival workshop.)

Dreams from 'Escape' (shot at the Palm Springs Photo Festival workshop)

Shameless Plug – The PSPF is a delightful confluence of creative filmmakers and photographers in the Spring each year.  We’d highly recommend it if you want to get your creative juices flowing again.

Lighting Workshops for the DSLR are now available from The Association (the company that produces the highly-acclaimed Canon Boot Camp, the longest running Canon DSLR workshop in the world).
These advanced workshops explore new looks and new lighting fixtures as we walk in the footsteps of the Masters.
Workshops will be held at the following two locations:
          (Basic DSLR Workshop April 29 & 30 and Advanced DSLR Workshop May 1 & 2, 2013)
• The Association’s studio next to Warner Brothers in Burbank on May 25th and 26th,.

Please sign up now as attendance is limited so each filmmaker can receive individual attention and enjoy the full benefit of the experience.

- See more at:

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