In my last article
I explained how and when you get soft and hard light outdoors and the effect it will have on your images, but how does this translate to the studio?
Just to recap: Hard light occurs when light comes from a small light source in relation to the subject and creates higher contrast and casts harder shadows. Soft light occurs when light comes from a larger light source in relation to the subject, creating lower contrast images as the light wraps round your subject creating less shadow.
Above: Hard light showing detail.
Left: Soft light, flattering shadows.
Both Photographs - © Matt Thompson.
In the studio we can move our lights closer or further away from the subject and this will have some effect on the hardness of light, but often not enough. Remember the size of the light, and it’s effect on your subject? Perhaps you are shooting a man and it’s important to capture those weathered lines on his face that will show his character? By using a small light source, say a light with a small reflector, you could create an image with more contrast that picks up the lines and details in the man’s face.
Alternatively, perhaps you are shooting a woman and it is important to shoot her skin in the most flattering way possible. Here a much larger light source is what is in order, perhaps a big soft box that is a bigger light source and of course diffused.
Matt Thompson is a London-based photographer and his areas of of specialism are portraits (editorial, documentary, fashion), plus interiors and architectural photography. Matt runs workshops (places are limited to 3 participants) and his next workshop on studio lighting takes place on Saturday 19 May 2012. Visit Matt Thompson's website
for more details.