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Looking at Soft vs. Hard Light


On this video, photographer Daniel Norton from Adorama demonstrates some of the differences between hard and soft light for beauty shoots.

A soft (or hard) light has to do with the size of your subject compared to the size of your light source. The larger the light source compared to your subject the softer the light. For beauty shoots you might want (in some situations) a bit more harder light to shape the face in a nicer way (although on a subject with wrinkles might not look very nice) .

A softer light will give you less pronounced shadows while harder lights will tend to increase those and make them stronger – again this isn’t necessarily bad and it depends on the look your want to create in your image and the subject that you are shooting.

Norton starts with a large light source and moves to a smaller – harder light to show the differences. He did add some fill with the harder light to prevent the hard shadows which did change the feel of the image.

So you have (at least) two ways to create an image – soft light with a large light source or hard light (with or without fill) with a smaller punchier light source.

You can check out many more helpful photography tips on our Photography tips section here on LensVid as well as more specific lighting tips here. You can watch more of Norton’s videos here.

  • It’s astonishing. When I read the post, things
    seemed little tough. But it gets easier after watching
    the photographer Daniel’s video. Light matching is a,
    kind of, confusing thing when it comes to choosing
    the appropriate light condition. Thanks anyway.

  • Soft vs. Hard Light description is good..your article is best for beginner.

  • An excellent post with video, very clear and a fantastic outcome, thank you very much.

  • Interesting post. I really like the video. Get clear concept about soft and hard light.

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