Hard Light, Soft Fill

Last night in class we were experimenting with some hard light as our main light, and soft light as our fill. One thing that I took away was the idea of layering the light in a different way than seems intuitive. In general, as you’ll see in the samples posted below, I tend to put my fill light directly aimed at the shadows – a not very subtle approach. One of the things I learned last night was to layer the light by placing them at, say 45 degree intervals as opposed to 90.

For example, say I have a hard light at camera left, above the subject. This causes very strong shadows along the side of the subject at camera right. Instead of putting your light all the way over at camera right, 90 degrees from the subject pointing directly at the shadow, put a soft light in front of the subject, essentially layering the light on top of the hard light. This gives you a higher meter reading since you’re combining light, but the hard light over powers the soft light in the key areas, while the soft light gently fills in shadows. It’s a neat technique that is very simple, just slightly counter-intuitive, at least for me.

Anyways, here are some of the shots from last night (although none of these really illustrate the technique that I’m talking about – but I definitely want to spend some time playing that that idea.




Admittedly the blue gel on the soft fill is a bit strong and a bit overexposed for what I was doing – I had a little too much power on the pack, even while bleeding the pack with a second head. Also, it’s a bit 80s for my taste. I do like what I was able to do with the church-basement-esque vinyl divider wall. Something worth experimenting with more in the future.

And then, just for fun, 2 second, hand-held long exposure using the hot light.


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