It is very easy to find photography articles that talk about how to get diffused light, the wonderful photos you can achieve with that soft light, and even how to avoid hard light. As if it were a contagious disease. Sorry for the exaggeration, but sometimes it seems. A pity, because that only leads to believe that the hard light does not serve much more than to avoid it, or to throw it through the toilet, if possible, and nothing is further from reality. The hard light hides a dramatic beauty that is very easy to surrender.

Therefore, today I am going to dedicate this article to that you know a little more this type of light. I want you to learn to love and use it. Because diffuse light is not always available, and because not all beauty is hidden behind it. Hard light has a lot to offer, to show and many feelings to wake up. Do you stay to meet her?


When we talk about light quality , we do not mean that the light is better or worse, as if it were the quality of some shoes. But of its hardness or softness. The soft light is characterized by engulf the subject evenly diffused. However, hard light arrives on time to him.

Hard light

Hard light causes a much sharper transition between shadows and lights and also a high contrast.

To see it very clearly, it is best to give an example so you can see the difference between soft light and hard light.

Hard light
Soft light

You can see that in the first image, the shadows are much more marked, the change between the shadow and the light is much more abrupt, less subtle.

Does that mean that one is better than the other? Not at all, all it means is that they evoke different sensations. Therefore, it may be better for certain situations the soft that lasts, or vice versa, precisely because of what they transmit. In this same example, it is true that a soft light is more in line with the photo, but now, look at this image:

the magic of the light

Do you think it would have worked with another type of light? Obviously not, the best of this image is undoubtedly the light. In this case, the light allows the shadows to be projected on the wall that accompany the young man. Also that the wall shine that way fanning the yellow and showing its details. On a cloudy day, with a diffused light, this photograph would not have had any interest.


While soft light usually transmits calmer sensations, such as tenderness, tranquility, peace, etc., hard light is much more dramatic . It relates more to mystery, to duality, to aggressiveness, to strength. This light is the best whenever you seek to awaken any of these emotions or reinforce a similar characteristic that the protagonist or the scene possesses.

Hard light portrait

What feelings awaken this portrait to you? Tenderness precisely not, right?

The important thing is to know each type of light and know how and when we can take advantage of it and get the most out of it.


Now comes the part where you wonder how hard light is achieved. Well, hard light depends on a small and nearby light source in relation to the subject in question. The smaller and closer it is to the protagonist, the harder it will be, the more marked the shadows will be.

Natural light

You have natural hard light when the sun is high in the sky and the days are very sunny. You can also get it when it directly hits a window. As in this example of the teapot.

Hard light from the window

Artificial light

You can get it with a flash, a lamp, a bulb, and so on. The important thing is that it is a small source compared to the reason. For example, if you are going to photograph a miniature doll and use a flash, it will not be as hard a light as if you use it with a person.

It is also important that you are close to the main subject so that the defined shadows occur.

Hard light with flash

You can create your own lighting fixtures that will help you achieve hard light. Here is an example :

DIY for flash

Ok, yes, for this example you have to know how to sew, but … what about the glue, and the imagination?


You will know, and if you do not know, I strongly recommend reading this article to locate you, that there are different ways of measuring light. We usually use the evaluation or weighted center measurement by default, however, when we are working with hard light, the ideal is to perform a timely measurement .

The contrast between the shadows and the lights is very strong, and that is what interests us, and with the precise measurement you can decide where to measure the light.


Hard light is more present than you think, sometimes you don’t have to look for it, but simply take advantage of it and not avoid it. Yes, it may happen that we do not know what to do with it, so I am going to leave you some ideas of photographs that you can achieve with hard light and very clear examples. You will see how the next time you encounter this light, instead of running, save the camera or find out how to blur it, you will get the most out of it.


I think this is one of the most beautiful things you can achieve with hard light, shadow drawings. Here is an example:

Drawings with shadows


The hard light of noon is ideal to capture the colors of turquoise waters and highlight the texture of the sand is also fantastic when transmitting the aridity of the desert and landscapes without vegetation.

Desert landscapes


Using hard light in a portrait is a great way to convey part of the subject’s personality, to grant him a strength that he apparently does not have or to provide drama. You have a very complete article on how to get portraits with hard light here .


The street photography draws on the stories of cities, how to interrelate the streets with people, how urban elements coexist with the other inhabitants of the city, the stories that emerge, the lives that hide or scream’m here . Light is another part of the equation, it is the term that helps you solve it.



A small and close, well-directed light source will help you achieve a low-key photograph . A technique with which you will be able to impact, yes or yes.

Low key


The shapes, volumes, textures, colors, details … are very important in architecture, use the hard light to highlight them and highlight them.



High contrast photographs are those in which there is a big difference between the light zone and the shadow zone. As you can intuit, hard light is a great ally of this type of photography.

High contrast


The hard light, as I said, enlivens the colors, makes them brighter. A good time to capture colored facades or any other colorful element that comes to mind and that you are looking for to vibrate.

Crisp and bright colors


Throughout the article you have been able to observe that black and white favors photographs with hard light, here is another example, so you do not say that we do not give you ideas or that we do not give enough examples

In black and white

With these resources, I am sure you are looking forward to trying hard light and its effects. Surely now you see it with other eyes, what if?

And let’s do a favor in hard light, help me share this article so that more people can take love, please;). You have already known their benefits, let others know them too. Thanks and see you soon!