X-Ray Film Portraiture with Modified Rembrandt Lighting

X-Ray Film Portraiture with Modified Rembrandt Lighting

Jim Edwards

This is an example of a portrait made using x-ray film and a modified “Rembrandt” lighting setup. I used a film formerly manufactured and marketed by Kodak, now sold under the name Carestream Half-Speed-Blue (CHSB). Like most x-ray film, CSHB has limited spectral sensitivity and is coated with emulsion on both sides. Care must be taken to avoid scratches when handling, as the emulsion is very soft, especially when wet; twice the emulsion equals twice the opportunity to scratch.

The key light is placed at a 45° angle in front of and above the subject, with a reflector 45° opposite and below. Grids ensure narrow output and sharp falloff. A small background light separates the subject from the background.

For more on x-ray film for photography, see the OKIE-X project page.

Wista 45DX field camera (cherrywood)
Unknown maker Petzval with internal iris, rack & pinion focus, ca. 1870
Focal length
Packard No. 6 pneumatic shutter with flash sync for Paul C. Buff CyberSync Cyber Commander
~125 second @ EI 25
Carestream Half-Speed-Blue 8″×10″, trimmed to fit 4″×5″ — semi-stand development with daylight tank in Pyrocat-HD (1:1:200) for ~60 minutes — 2 minutes in TF-4 archival fix
Key Light
Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 with 22″ silver beauty dish & 30° grid & Matthews C-stand with turtle base & grip arm
Impact 42″ 5-in-1 collapsible circular reflector (silver side), Avenger reflector holder with mini grip head, & Manfrotto stackable air-cushioned light stand
Background light
Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 with 7″ reflector, LiteMod™ Unit Mainframe, 15° grid, & Matthews back light stand
Manfrotto background support with Interfit Italian Collection background (grey)
Safety equipment
All stands weighted with Matthews Senior Boa Bags
Digitization & post-production
Epson perfection V850 scanner with VueScan scanning software & Adobe Lightroom

About the Featured Photograph(s)


M-mount lenses do not provide aperture information to the camera body, either electronically or mechanically. Therefore, f-stop settings are approximate, and are probably wildly inaccurate. For what it’s worth, I usually shoot with my lenses wide open.

  • Jim Edwards
  • 45DX
  • ISO:160
  • 250mm
  • 1/25s
  • ƒ/4
  • 35° 12.3667′ 0″ N 97° 25.5333′ 0″ W


International Man of Mystery. Cocktail Nerd. Occasionally designs websites. Sometimes snaps a picture or two.