April 4, 2016

Light Your Subject the Right Way with this Basic 3-Minute Tutorial

Persona Lighting
Hard or soft light? It's a simple choice with vastly different results.

The folks at Aputure have just released a helpful video to ensure you get the basics down before going into any type of portrait shoot or interview.

The most important thing to consider when setting up, they explain, is the choice between shooting your subject in hard or soft light. For a more straightforward shoot, Aputure recommends going with soft lighting. But from a filmmaker's perspective, hard lighting is certainly a more interesting choice, especially when toying around with genre.

In lighting soft and hard light, always keep in mind the distance and size of the light in relation to your subject. In general, the closer the light is to your subject, the softer the light. The larger the source of the light, the softer the image. 

Here's a handy breakdown of how to achieve your desired effect with the two lighting strategies:

Hard light 

  • Place your light further from the subject
  • You want a smaller surface area related to your subject
  • No diffusion
  • Casts harder shadows
  • More specular highlights
  • Most amount of contrast

Soft light 

  • Place your light closer to the subject
  • You want a larger surface area related to the subject
  • Highly diffused look
  • Casts softer shadows
  • Nice, even light with little contrast

For the purposes of this demonstration, the Aputure team used the Light Storm LS1S, the Light Storm LS1/2w and the Amaran HR672.     

Your Comment

3 Comments

Thanks.

April 5, 2016 at 10:54AM

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Sameir Ali
Director of Photography
1094

Is that roller blind transition they use a preset in After Effects?

April 6, 2016 at 8:42AM

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Tas Underwood
Video Producer
72

I really appreciate the hard light reflection on the skin at 1:50. How can I manage to get this kind of greasy skintone?

April 7, 2016 at 1:14PM

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t.
Colorist / Magician
74

That took years and years of testing.

September 23, 2016 at 10:52AM

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Marc Strong
Producer
123