An Easy Way to Create Moody Shadows and Hard Light With a Softbox

If you want to know how to create hard light, but still want some control over your light source, this video is for you.

You’re probably wondering why anyone would want to create hard light with a softbox. Isn’t the point of a softbox to create gorgeous, flattering light with soft shadows? Well, the answer is yes to that, but as we all know, many items have multiple uses, and it turns out that a softbox can be a great tool for creating hard shadows. After the break, we have a video for you that demonstrates how you can create moody shadows with a small softbox.

As mentioned above, we usually use a softbox to create beautiful soft light and soft shadows. Soft even lighting can help create incredibly flattering portraits, but what if you want hard light? Should you just use your light source with no light modifiers at all, or should you use a softbox to help create hard light and edgy shadows? Well, the choice is obviously yours, but this video from Adorama may well have you leaning towards the latter going forward.

Hard Light

As you can see in the image above, hard shadows can create really dramatic portrait images. You’ll get well-defined features and a look that is quite dramatic. The video we have below shows just how easy it is to use a single light source with a small softbox like a 1 x 1.3 (30x40cm) to create shadows like you the ones you see above.

The small softbox, when pulled back from your subject, will still create a light source that’s small relative to your model, but you’ll get the benefit of still being able to control the lighting and where it falls better than if we just to fire your strobe with no modifier. You can, of course, make the shadows a little softer by moving your strobe or flash closer to your subject, or you can pull back to create harder, more defined shadows. It’s amazing just how creative you can become when adding in flash to your workflow.

Check out the video above to see just how easy it can be to create dramatic, moody images with a small softbox. Have you used this technique before? Let us know in the comment section below.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.