Learning how to use artificial lighting in your photography can be overwhelming for any beginner. Apart from familiarizing yourself with new equipment, you also have to study how light behaves in different scenarios. To help you start with studio photography, Mark Wallace of Adorama TV teaches you a few essential lighting terms you’ll need to grasp to succeed.
Hard Light/Soft Light
The first item he discusses is differentiating between hard light and soft light. Hard light, otherwise known as harsh light, has clearly defined shadows with hard edges. Meanwhile, soft light, also known as diffused light, produces soft edges.
Next, Mark discusses the light’s effective size. It’s a term that encompasses the physical size of the light, and its position to the subject. The closer the light source is to the subject, the larger the effective size and the softer the light. The farther away it is, the smaller the effective size and the harder the light. You can also change the effective size of your light source by using modifiers. These can be anything from clouds in the sky that act as diffusers, or softboxes in the studio.
Finally, he discusses contrast, or the difference between the darkest and the lightest areas in an image. Changing the position of your light source greatly influences the contrast of your subject. For instance, you can produce a low contrast image if you place the source directly in front of the subject. And if you want to increase the contrast, you simply position the light beside the subject to create strong shadows.
Of course, there are a lot more terms you’ll need to learn (such as incident and reflected light) to master studio photography. However, the ones that Mark shared are the essential ones you need to know while you’re still learning. Flash photography may seem intimidating at first, but once you learn the basics, everything else will be easy. The video is just the first part of a series, so keep your eyes peeled for the next episodes.