Tuesday, June 20, 2006

06/20/06: Types of light

Basic Photo Tip - Types of Light

Often you'll hear photographers talking about soft light or natural light, etc. Here are a couple of quick definitions to help understand the differences between hard and soft light, as well as natural and artificial light.

Hard Light
Hard light comes directly from the source. Direct sunlight and undiffused on-camera flash are two types of hard light. Hard light creates strong and distinct shadows. Hard light can eliminate details, flatten a subject, and produce harsh shadows -- though sometimes these are actually desired affects.

Soft Light
Soft light is indirect. It can be sunlight through curtains or the type of light available outdoors on a cloudy day. Soft light produces soft shadows and is ideal for portraits. Professional photographers will employ any number of light modifiers to produce nice soft light in portrait studio sessions

Natural Light
Natural light is pretty self-explanatory...basically light that is produced by sunshine / daylight conditions. Natural light can either be hard or soft lighting.

Artificial Light
Artificial lighting comes from studio or camera flash units, incandescent / halogen / fluorescent bulbs, candlelight, etc. Artificial light can wreak havoc on images if you aren't sure how to expose for the various types of artificial light. A quick study of white balance will help (more on that topic on another daily photo tip!).

By knowing the different types of light and how mood can be affected by light can help you produce very dramatic images.


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