Creating Visual Moods with Soft Light and Hard Light

Creating Visual Moods with Soft Light and Hard Light Hobolite

Achieve your desired effect consistently with continuous, bi-color lighting 

Whether shooting products or personalities, we know pro photographers, videographers, and content creators want their subjects portrayed in ways that will capture their audience’s attention. Lighting is crucial for creating the right mood, and different techniques, products, and accessories can be used to achieve the desired effect – like soft light and hard light. 

What is soft light?

#LitByHobolite – by Lia

#LitByHobolite – by Lia

Soft light provides a natural look with faint shadows and smoothed edges. Soft light is commonly used for portrait and fashion photography, among other styles, to make people look their best. For instance, a model’s complexion is smoothed by soft light, and skin tones are true to life and appear radiant, reducing the need for excessive retouching.

Soft light produces a diffused shadow around a subject, with a faint differentiation between light and shadow. The diffused shadow is a product of:

  • The surface size of the light source – a large light produces softer light than a small light.
  • Diffusion – diffusers redirect or alter the amount of light and its direction. Softboxes, lanterns and other light modifiers are common accessories in the industry to provide even diffused light.
  • Outdoors, a cloudy day can be taken advantage of to naturally diffuse light.
  • Distance the light travels – the longer the distance a ray of light travels, the more likely it is to produce soft light.

What is hard light?

Hard light is bright, directed, and undiffused light that produces harsh shadows. Because there is no transition between the highlights and shadows, hard light can be used to create the ultimate contrast. Images cast in this light appear quite stark.   

Naturally, hard light is produced by full sunlight. In most photography and studio settings, it is created artificially by a directional light, like a spotlight or a flash. 

Direct sunlight is an example of hard light (produced naturally)

Content creator at work

Why would you choose to use hard light in one of your sessions? Because it can add a sense of depth and complexity if that is what you are aiming to capture. Sometimes a creator intends to expose flaws by casting hard light on a subject or wants the shot to have an edgier look and feel. Hard light evokes a sense of high drama and can stir emotions in a different way than soft light.

What’s your objective?

Do you want your subject to appear warm, welcoming, and friendly? Or are you seeking a moodier, darker tone? Soft light and hard light are how you can achieve that desired objective in your photography. Soft light is perfect for fashion shoots to capture models and clothing in beautiful color while minimizing any flaws. Street scenes, landscapes, and more rugged portrait photography (think athletes) are better suited for hard light.  

No matter your setting, Hobolite products help you achieve any lighting scenario with reliability and consistency. Because our lights are bi-color LEDs, they can be used to mimic daylight or a softer, more natural-looking light. You can change the color of the light to differ from your camera’s temperature setting to create harder contrast. 

All three Hobolite models also feature flicker-free dimming for even, consistent light at every power setting 1-100%, and a 0% Blackout option that allows you to adjust light levels without emitting light. Since it’s a Hobolite, it looks great wherever you go!

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