Light plays an important role in photography. It can bring a photo to life, it can create effects including spectacular shadows or silhouettes, or it can have a significant negative impact by creating unwanted glare and reflections.
This is a quick guide to introducing beginners to one of the most important aspects of pro photography lighting. This guide consists of three parts. Part 1 deals with hard and soft light, part 2 with natural and artificial light and part 3 with light intensity and depth of field.
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This first section addresses one of the most basic issues: the difference between hard and soft light shooting.
In general, the size of a light source is inversely proportional to the hardness of the light, meaning that a smaller light source produces a harder light. Soft glow, on the other hand, can be generated with the help of:
Reflector: The effect of reflected light essentially turns the reflector into a secondary light source. Anything can be used as a reflector, whether you are shooting indoors or outdoors. This includes a professional reflector or just a sheet of paper.
Diffusers: In natural light, clouds are a great example of a diffuser. Under artificial lighting conditions, any translucent material that diffuses or softens light can be used. Lampshades are a great example of light diffusion. Even a light white cloth can be used for shooting.
Both types of lamps have their advantages and disadvantages. Light can still be used to create images with sharp contrasts and accents, emphasizing shape and texture. It can be used to enhance the 3D effect of images and create general dramatic effects. However, loud light is difficult to adjust and is generally considered unsuitable for many, if not most, situations, especially when photographing people.