Light is the central aspect of photography. A camera cannot record images in the absence of light since it is used to illuminate the objects or scenes. This fact remains true whether one is taking a picture in the artificial light, natural light or by a candle light. Light has been and will always remain to be the most essential element of photography.

Light especially the quality of light have profound impacts on the mood of the pictures and good photographers agree and understand this aspect. To better understand the impacts of light on photography; it is important to understand the types of light exposure in photography which include; hard light and soft light.

Hard light

When taking pictures in the presence of hard light, both bright and dark areas are created in the same scene. This normally happens in a bright sunny day. Dark shadows are created in the pictures.


Also, when someone takes a picture of the other on a dark background with a flash, the image produced is normally bright but with a very dark background. However, the dark shadow can be softened by using a fill flash.

Soft light

Soft light unlike hard light is consistent, diffused, and smooth. This kind of light presents less shadows that might confuse the camera. A good example is a picture taken outside on a cloudy day where no harsh shadows or rather extreme bright spots. Such pictures are bright and present the desired quality in photography.

Light illuminates photos

Lighting in photography enables illumination in photos. When a photo is taken in the presence of light it illuminates it such that it generates effects like shadows and silhouettes. For instance, in a room where there is no light, everything is black and nothing is clear in the room.


However, when the lights are switched on, everything becomes illuminated. Light also bring out the tone, atmosphere and mood of the photo. Photographers therefore should control and manipulate the available light so as to get the best texture and color in the photos. Photographers achieve the light effects through observing the following measures.

1. Positioning of the light

The source of the light has an impact on the way it falls on the subject. For example, any light originating from behind the camera and it points directly onwards gives the photographer a very flat lighting. Such light also result in shadows falling in the background of the photo.

A light coming from the side produces an interesting light since it presents the shape of the subject in an extraordinary way hence giving it a dramatic look. Light coming from the back gives the subject an alternative effect. Most of this light hits the side of the subject thus making it brighter.

2. Shaping of light

The light can be shaped such that it reduces glare and the harsh shadows therefore diminishing the blemishes on the subject.

This can be achieved through numerous ways using umbrellas, boxes and heatproof material.

3. Manipulating light

Photographers manipulate light so as to achieve the desired results in photos. One can manipulate light so that it falls in the point of interest off the subject. This can be achieved by using diffusers and reflectors.