• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL
Help

Chapter 4. Lighting > Hard and Soft Light

Hard and Soft Light

There are infinite possible combinations of light, which can seem daunting when you're shooting video. Fortunately, for our purposes we can break light down into two broad categories: hard and soft.

  • Hard light. The term hard light refers to the light produced by a direct source, which creates shadows with clearly defined edges (Figure 4.1). Hard light tends to be bright, like the sun at midday.

    Figure 4.1. Hard light creates sharp, clearly defined shadows. A bright halogen lamp is providing the light.

  • Soft light. In contrast, soft light isn't as direct, and produces shadows that are blurred at the edges or fade away (Figure 4.2). Soft light is typically light that's filtered by artificial means (such as hoods and filters attached to the light) or by natural means (such as clouds, fog, or shade).

    Figure 4.2. Soft light diffuses the shadows, making them blurry or even fade out gradually. In this case, a white t-shirt was put in front of the halogen bulb to dampen its intensity. (Hey, we're real high-tech at the Carlson world headquarters.)

In general, soft light is better to film by, because it gives you more levels of brightness and accentuates natural textures. Hard light creates a lot of contrast, limiting the brightness levels because you see either high-intensity light or deep, dark shadows.

✓ Tip

  • If lighting is particularly important to a scene, add a video monitor to your list of equipment to bring on a video shoot. Although your camcorder offers a viewfinder and an LCD, you won't know how the image will look on a TV screen until you see it projected on a monitor. The camera's LCD is great for viewing the content you're capturing, but LCDs can often display images brighter than they're being recorded; or, if you're outside, the LCD's pixels can get washed out by the sunlight.


  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint