Hard light

Hard light

8 week online workshop
lesson 4
Hard Light

No shortage of hard light around here at the moment. And looking at my photo library I realise I take a lot of photos in hard light – usually full sun at the beach or in the backyard in the middle of the day and things like that. But now I realise why I’m never thrilled with the photos – except some of the beach ones, because the beach looks like that, it’s bright and sunny and reflect-y so I’m fine with the photos looking like that.
Photo one – nice bright reflection off the pool just to really make the point!
Photo 2 & 3 – you can see all the funny shadows over the face, and I spot metered off the face so the skin tones are ok but the highlights are blown out and there’s very little detail anywhere.
Photo 4 – taking your advice about stepping back and capturing action shots is great, lots of good things from that. The bright light means you can use really fast shutter speeds to it’s great for capturing action. I also found if I didn’t try to get face/portrait type shots the shadowing etc just wasn’t an issue so I could get some really cool shots like this one, which I love.

Hard-light Hard-light-1 Hard-light-2 Hard-light-11

I live in the beautiful hills of Perth with my husband and three year old daughter. I have degrees in history and law but am staying home for a few years to raise my gorgeous little girl. I love creative pursuits, be it creative play with my three year old, sewing, or my new passion - photography. I've owned a DSLR for about 6 years but have only just started to really explore it's capabilities (and mine!).


  1. Lesson learned then 🙂 If you get nothing else out of these 8 weeks, I’m glad you now know why some of your photos were not turning out as you’d have liked. Hard light is something we have to live with here in Australia but if you know how to use it (and when to avoid it) you’ll generally be happier with your photographs. The first one really has some extreme blowouts from the harsh light – there are parts of her arms that disappear into white nothingness. So you really did make the point! The good thing about the water though is that you avoided the hard shadows on her face because the water acted like a huge reflector and reflected light back into her face. Nice action shot (but be careful of cutting off hands).

  2. Yep, lesson learned! And I always thought that shooting in full sun was something I was good with because the colours were nice and bright. Funny thing about that last photo – I didn’t notice her hands were chopped off (distracted by the cute bottom, probably!) and in the original photo they are not, so again it is something about the way I have saved the image to upload here that has trimmed it a bit. I’ve been trying hard not to amputate in the photos but sometimes it is really hard to fit everything into the frame so I guess it’s just learning to cut parts out without it looking weird?

  3. Okay – I have learnt that I look too much at the good points of each photo and not the faults! I didn’t notice the missing hands (I guess I assumed they were underwater) , and I was too busy looking at the face in the first image to even notice her arms were disappearing : / These are lovely candid shots – you have a very good model!

    • Sarah, that’s why I’m here. You often don’t notice these things until they are pointed out and then you start thinking about them when you’re taking photos and it all helps you to become a better photographer.

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