That light is essential in photography, is something that you probably already know. And if you don’t know it because you just landed in this world, it’s the first lesson you should learn. You should also know that, in addition to being essential, it plays other roles, since working with it you can get more creative images or even transmit some sensations or others. There are different types of light as classified by direction, intensity or quality. Today I will discuss this issue from the point of view of quality, according to which the light can be hard or diffused. My goal in this article is to give you some tips that can help you achieve wonderful images with diffused light. But before continuing, I think it is essential to tell you what is the difference between hard light and soft (or diffused) light.

Hard light

This type of light is produced when the source is small, the smaller and more distant it is, the harder the light it generates. It has nothing to do with quantity, but with the way it affects objects. Hard light produces much sharper shadows and contrasts. The transition between shadows and lights is very sharp. It is used to transmit aggressiveness, strength … and highlight textures. Here is an example of hard light.

Hard light

Diffused light

In this case, the transition between lights and shadows is more progressive and subtle. It transmits tenderness, sweetness and is much more romantic. The light falls on the objects in a more blurred way and allows us to better appreciate the details. It is the kind of light that I am going to focus on today.

Diffused light

To know if you are facing one type of light or another, if you have doubts, it is best to look at the shadows. If these are very marked and defined, you are facing a hard light. Notice the difference in this image:

Look at the shadows to distinguish what light you have

If you look at the shadows, you will notice how in the image below, they are much more marked, that is the effect of hard light.


The quality of the light depends on the size and distance of the source, regardless of whether it is natural or artificial light, outdoors or indoors. Let’s see how to achieve it in different situations.

Natural light

  • Outdoors: You can get diffused light without any intervention taking advantage of the first and last hours of the day. Sunrise and sunset produce a much softer light than the central hours. Like cloudy or foggy days, it and the clouds work as a diffuser of light. If you have to photograph with a lot of sun, you can use a fill flash or a reflector. You can also look for the shadow of a tree or any other element. Here is an outline of how clouds and fog act as diffusers, and then an example of a portrait with the diffused light of the sunset.
    The diffuse light of the sunset

If you look at this portrait you can observe the warmth of this light, the sweetness that it gives off, how it completely envelops the girl without producing unwanted shadows.

  • Indoors: If the sun’s rays hit the window directly, the light is harder, so it would be better if you move away a bit or place a completely smooth white curtain or tissue paper on the glass. In this way the light will blur offering you a much smoother result. You can also change the window if you have that possibility. In the example of the baby, a white tissue paper has been placed on the glass to make the diffuser effect and the result is really remarkable.

Artificial light

If what you are using is artificial light because you are in a studio, or outdoors at night or in any situation where you do not have natural light, you also have some resources to achieve diffused light.

  • Hand flash: If you shoot with a hand flash directed directly against the subject or object you intend to photograph, the light will be very hard and will cause shadows that if you do not intentionally look for them, they will bother you. The trick to achieve a diffused light with this tool is very simple, you just have to bounce the flash on a wall, the ceiling or even if you have someone close to you with a white shirt, because it also serves you This way you will get that the light fades and falls on your protagonist in a less “aggressive” way. Another trick is to use diffusers, which you can find in the store, on the Internet or manufacture them in your home in a very simple and economical way (my partner Iaio tells you here how to do it, you can not lose this!). You can also use umbrella diffusers or reflectors. You may want to take a look at this article .
  • Windows of light: The windows of light, are as their own name indicates a “pot” that mimics a window of light, so said very roughly so that it is easier to understand. It would be like having the light of a flash but continuously and more blurred. They are also known as “softbox” and you can find them for less than one hundred euros on Amazon (at least as of today ).
    Light windows
  • Lightboxes: A lightbox is an illusion study for small objects. It is very easy to build and is a good way to get a fantastic diffused light for small things.
    Light box
    The result with the light box

You can expand all this information here .


If you are looking for a uniform light, without shadows, that completely illuminates your subject or object, this is the type of light you should use. Not everything in photography is technical, photography is an art and many times what we are looking for are contrasts, shadows, dimly lit parts that suggest but do not show … And other times what we need is to show everything, convey warmth, sweetness, softness, feelings positive … It is in those moments when the light has to come from all directions, completely wrap the protagonist of your image, showing each and every one of its parts, either with a warmer light for a sweeter portrait or with a whiter light so that the product that should appear in a catalog looks good. The situations are very different but the objective is the same, that the whole image is illuminated in a homogeneous way.


With this question I do not intend to convince you to always use this type of light, on the contrary. But there are occasions for everything and like any art, you have to try, discover and know all the tools or resources you have. My question is rather motivating, since what I intend is that you put into practice what I have told you in this article. If you are reading this it is because you want to learn, grow as a photographer or photographer, improve your technique … and for that, you need to practice. It is very good that you read the articles, but if you do not put it into practice, everything is forgotten and is useless. That’s why I’m going to leave you an image gallery with diffused light, to convince you to practice, so that when you see these photos you want to try to build a light box, use a reflector, or go out on cloudy days …

Thank you for reading this far. Hopefully these tips will help you and that you liked the article so much that you want to share it on Facebook, Google + or Twitter. If so, I will feel happy and I will be eternally grateful . Until next time!

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