Playing with light in photography

9 November 2018

Playing with light in photography

December is approaching, the days are getting shorter and studio shoots are multiplying. To the great displeasure of outdoor photo purists, this season represents a lean period for photo light, especially natural light. Fatality ? Certainly not ! Discover with Lakeprod the best ways to optimize your rendering by using light and lighting.

The main types of light in photos

Natural light, artificial light

Photo light is a relatively complex subject. The term “natural light” simply refers to the daylight, the light scattered by the sun, that is found outside and that passes through windows. Please note: “light” refers to any type of light, not just unwanted flashes or large rays of sunshine on sunny days.


On the other hand, artificial light refers to the light created and emitted by man via cameras: flashes from cameras, but also light bulbs, neon lights, lamps and other supports of all kinds.


Natural light is generally considered softer, more diffuse and whiter than artificial light.

Hard light, soft light

If the first distinction was self-evident, what about the crucial difference between the hard and soft aspects of light in photographs ?


Hard light is often associated with artificial light. It is characterized by the presence of marked, dark shadows with sharp contours. It gives a real impression of chiaroscuro, almost between dog and wolf.


Soft light, on the other hand, is quite different. Most of the time, it goes hand in hand with daylight because of its more scattered, hushed and warm side. In the studio, the soft light source is located close to the subject and produces few shadows. This is the preferred brightness mode for portrait photos, for example.


As you will have understood, working with alternating hard and soft light requires working at a distance between the subject and the light source. In general, the larger and closer the light source, the softer the rendering. It is also necessary to work on the colour of the light: white or yellow, reddish or bluish, etc.

The importance of exposure

As a reminder, exposure refers to the amount of light received by the sensitive surface of a camera during shooting. It strongly influences the brightness of photographic images.

Fortunately, it is possible to set a camera (SLR or not) to an overexposure mode if the light is too low, or to under-expose if it is already too high.

Sensor opening

The sensor refers to the sensitive inner part of the device. The level of exposure of a photo depends on its degree of openness. The more the sensor is left open, the more light the picture is saturated with; on the contrary, if you close it, it darkens.

Diaphragm opening

The opening of the sensor depends strongly on the opening of the diaphragm. As above, the larger the aperture size of the diaphragm, the more light can penetrate the camera. Vice versa: the smaller the aperture size of the diaphragm, the less light can penetrate it.

Harmonize shadow and light

Shadow contours that are too wise can appear refined at best, at worst boring. You must therefore be creative and not hesitate to deal with shadows and lights, according to your fantasies. For example, accentuate the shadows to add a dose of mystery to your shot, or darken and soften the whole to sift it. You can still play with the shadows of silhouettes that stand out on the floor or walls, or use the contrasts of colours and shadows… Feel free!


If your environment alone would not allow you to capture the right image, use accessories. Here are some of them:

  • The umbrella
  • The light box
  • The circular diffuser, which optimally diffuses sunlight…


With a little practice, you will very quickly be able to give your photographs that unique touch that comes with mastering light and shadow in photography.


If, however, you prefer to use professional photographers to make your shooting, do not hesitate to contact us.