Improve Your Photography By Learning To See Light

One of the most powerful tools you will use as a portrait photographer is your ability to see different light situations.  Just being aware of these situations will give you the photography advantage over many other people. We talk about two very basic types of light when it comes to outdoor portrait photography.  Those light types are hard light and soft light.

Hard Light

If you go outdoors and shoot pictures in the middle of a sunny day, you have seen hard light.  Hard light causes the highlights (light parts of the picture) to become hot spots (really bright white), or really white areas that have no detail or are distracting.  Hard Light also causes deep shadows to fall on your subject due to the intensity and direction of the light.

Hard Light

This is an example of hard directional light. You want to avoid this for your portraits.

Soft Light

If you go outdoors and shoot pictures in the middle of an overcast day, you have seen soft light.  Soft light is diffused and spread out more.  It will not cause intense highlights or deep dark shadows.  This is the type of light you want to shoot your portraits. This is the most flattering portrait light.  Soft light is also seen in the early morning hour and evening hours.

soft light portrait

Soft Light portrait taken in the shade. We used our portable reflector to add light.

This does not mean you can only shoot on cloudy days or during the morning or evening hours.  You can find soft light in shaded areas too.  All is not lost if you are shooting at noon on a sunny summer day. Setup your portraits in the shade under trees or in between buildings in a shady spot.  Seek out soft light, it is everywhere if you look for it!

We are all about improving our photography on this website.  Next time you are out shooting look for soft light and make your portraits stand out!

Wouldn’t you love to take better portraits of your loved ones?  It is really easy and you don’t even need a special expensive camera to do it.  Just sign up for free updates (over in the right sidebar) and we will send you an email about once per week with portrait tips.  We promise to take care of your email, no games….   What are you waiting for?  Sign up now.

Also, would you mind doing us a favor?  Could you tell your friends or family, that may be interested in photography, about our website?  Maybe even share it on social media with your friends. We are trying to help as many people as we can and would like to get the word out.  Thanks!

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