Hard Light or Soft Light

When photographers talk about photographs you will hear the terms Hard Light and Soft Light being used but what do they mean?

If I use a small source of light relative to the size of the subject it will give us sharp shadows. The Sun on a clear day or a camera or phone flash acts like a point source of light so you get hard edged shadows this is what gives it the name, Hard Light.

As you may have guessed when a light is spread out it is called diffuse or diffused light, this will give the shadows softer edges so we call this Soft Light. the larger the light source the softer the shadows. If the light source gets very large, e.g. the sky on a cloudy day, the the shadows can disappear almost completely.

We use both types when taking product photos there is no wrong or right type of light for photography you can use both types depending on the look you are going for or even combine them in one image.