Generally speaking for flattering lighting, light should come from above. Light from below is very un-natural, as you can see! There was a very old camera club rule that nose shadows should go down but should not cut into the lip. I don’t believe in rules for lighting - it depends on what you are trying to achieve. This lighting style would make a great “evil” theatrical portrait!
Hard Light, Soft Light. One of the basic principals of lighting is that “The bigger the light the softer it is”.
You can see from this example that the on-camera flash is a very hard light because it is also very small - about 2x1cm! Our other photographs have so far been taken with a studio flash fitted with a 16cm reflector. This has the immediate effect of making the light softer simply because it is bigger. But if we fire the head into an umbrella we can make our light source bigger still and we can spread the light over a larger area softening it further.
Think about nature. In the desert in Africa the Sun is a tiny point source of light and it therefore gives a very hard high contrast light. We all know that the Sun is immense but because it is 93 million miles away, in relation to us it looks very small. On the other hand if we think about a typical summer in the UK where we have cloud cover from horizon to horizon, the whole dome of the sky becomes our light source. This gives very soft light with hardly any shadows.
Making light softer
So, let’s fit an umbrella onto our light and see what happens. Tip: When using a brolly don’t forget to adjust it so that the modelling light is filling, but is not spilling over the edge of it - don’t waste your light!