Chiaroscuro is an Italian renaissance painting concept / technique for describing three dimensional form by using light and shade. The term literally describes light and dark and originally referred to a particular type of drawing using a mid tone paper with the artist adding whites and darks to show form.
In common usage it usually refers to paintings that use strong contrast to model three dimensional form. Painters such as Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio are considered exemplary in their demonstration of the technique, even though the technique had much earlier historical roots. The Wikipedia entry makes for some interesting reading and enlightened me on its history. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiaroscuro
Some writers in photography have described it in very narrow and specific lighting techniques. Particularly in Portrait Lighting. Others take a broader brush and simply see it as modelling form with light and Shadow. When you search chiaroscuro and photography expect to get widely varying opinions as to its photographic interpretation. Take these with a grain of salt and make your own interpretation based on the traditional art terminology and historical roots.
Personally I love using strong side or three quarter lighting to create a sense of depth, form and to draw the viewers eye with dramatic attention. It is a fabulous way of carving out the points of interest in a photograph. I like to do it with window light in a dark room or in a forest or cave and in the studio with lights.
Please take a moment to search chiaroscuro in paintings and look at the works of Caravaggio. For his work is my personal favourite, as it inspires me each time I see it. I was lucky enough to see a fantastic collection of his work in London last time I was there.
When you look at a Caravaggio painting your eye is carefully steered through the painting with the most important subject illuminated the brightest, then as the lesser important subjects get less and less light. He often uses a triangle of three important subjects. Each in strong light while the rest of the painting recedes. I can’t emphasise this enough, take the time to study master pieces of art and figure out why they work.
So, now it’s your turn. Photograph round or three dimensional subjects in strong side or three quarter light. Three quarter light means it comes from roughly forty five degrees instead of the ninety in side lighting. You may find having it raised at forty five degrees also helps so that it emulates the sun. Of course using the sun is just as valid as any other lighting source.
Your goal is to carve out of dark backgrounds round forms with strong directional lighting. Please post and share your results. Give each other support and encouragement with some positive critiques.