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Butterfly Lighting

The Famous Marlene Dietrich Light

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In this FotoTV film photographer Oliver Rausch, from the Cologne Photography, Germany, gives FotoTV another helpful tutorial. This time Rausch focuses on the very popular and forever timeless Butterfly Lighting" made popular in the 20's by legendary film icon Marlene Dietrich.

Legend has it that prolific film director Josef von Sternberg invented this style of lighting for his Muse Marlene Dietrich in the late 1920's. Being a perfectionist himself, the match between von Sternberg and Dietrich was definitely a match made in heaven. In fact, Dietrich demanded, if not isisted most of her film directors use this lighting to light her, including in all her publicity stills, simply because she liked the way she looked.

While demonstrating several various lighting placements, Rausch continuously adjust the elevation of the light in order to achieve the most perfect lighting. Rausch contends that butterfly lighting is the most beautiful light for women. The key butterfly light is placed directly above the camera lens, and the light falls straight, and full onto the face. He also points out that the technique gets its name from the shadows under the nose, which resembles a butterfly's wings in flight.

Some of the most important information for photographers that Rausch gives during this video is that this style of lighting can be achieved with a single off camera light and a reflector. Rausch concludes that the proper use of reflectors and the right placement of the light source will guarantee wonderful results. Butterfly lighting is one of the most flattering and artistic ways of lighting the face and is widely used by top celebrity and fashion photographers.


That's what I call an in depth coverage

I've never seen a single lighting pattern covered in that detail! Other photography schools are skipping over lighting patterns in rapid pace. But you really care to explain every aspect. Very well done! It's high quality eduction for us photographers. I wish you good light! -- Michael

One simple light - great effect

Very well explanation and examples of how to position a the light and what effects are caused by just one ligth. You have to watch it to see the does and don'ts.

Great classic photos with

Great classic photos with just one light.

Best video on butterfly lighting I have ever watched.

This is the best video on butterfly lighting I have ever watched. Oliver is an amazing teacher, the detail and clarity of his explanations are second to none. The English translation is good but not perfect, however nothing of primary importance is likely to be missed. Oliver, please make more videos on portrait lighting!

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Good Day! You have written a

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Photography is one of my

Photography is one of my passion. And aside from that, I'ts my pleasure to have your article. Thank you for sharing this. Have a great day !

The essential purpose of

The essential purpose of photography is communication. Few people take pictures solely to please themselves. Most of us take them because we want them seen by others. We wish or are compelled to inform, educate, entertain, reform, or share some experienced with others. Thanks for posting!


I love taking pictures. For me taking picture is like capturing an undiscovered feelings.

This article is very helpful

This article is very helpful because I've been taking lots of pictures nowadays.