Types of Light

Orange fruit isolated on white background Every time we snap an image, we have a vision of how we want it to look. But in many instances, the picture that we take does not resemble our premonition or justify the nature of the subject. Because light can be unpredictable, there are ways of controlling its effects to achieve the results we are after. Today we will be discussing soft light, hard light, and haze.

Types of Light

Soft Light: refers to light that originates from a wide, dispersed source. Since soft light is scattered throughout a space, it does not have a defined direction or path. An example of soft light is the lighting of an overcast day. In this way, sun rays are magnified but dispersed by the clouds, resulting in a more even exposure of the subject.

With soft light, much contrast is lost between light and shadows. Colors might not be as vibrant as with hard light, but details are maintained throughout the image.

Hard Light

Hard Light term refers to small light sources which shine in a particular direction. Examples of hard light sources are bulbs and flash. The sun can also offer hard light, especially at times where its intensity is higher, as the directionality of the rays is more focused and concentrated in one path.

When hard light is shone in front, behind, or from the side of a subject, it results in shadows, a marked silhouette of the object, and high contrasts between light and shade. Since the light affects just one side of the subject, one half of the image is shaded and hard to depict.


When there are clouds or climatic conditions like fog or haze, moisture molecules in the air act like a light filter, reducing the directionality of light, muting it, and dispersing it. Similar to the effects of soft light, contrast is lost with haze or fog. Colors become less vibrant, and in some cases blurry. This type of light creates a dreamy effect to any image.

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