Hard Light Two Ways with Katie Thompson

In photography, the quality of the light can be defined in a variety of ways but many times we look at it as hard or soft. This is shown in the type of shadows and texture shown on the subject and helps communicate the mood of the image.

In a recent personal shoot, NY-based fashion photographer Katie Thompson compared two different light shapers to create a sculpted, hard light.

For the first series of images, Katie used a P65 reflector on a Litos lamphead. Placed behind the camera, the light was narrower than most standard reflectors and provided a very well defined shadow with a slightly softened edge. Without any diffusion on the reflector, the result is a very harsh light that accentuates the colorful eye makeup while showing depth in the model’s collarbone.

On the background, a single Litos head into a V-Flat helped create a broad illumination to make the background an even white tone.

For the second look, The P65 was exchanged for a Para 88. With an 88cm or 2.5′ diameter, the Para is a very flexible light shaper. With lamphead positioned towards the back of the Para in a “focused” position, the resulting light is a unique combination of both hard and soft light.

While the contours of the model’s face are still visible and defined by shadows, the quality of light is much more 3-dimensional, as portions they show more falloff of the light than the P65 reflector. The effectively small size of a focused Para allows for a very defining light, retaining shadow counter to give the semblance of depth and shape.

Even with one general description of light, its amazing to create even more finite variations using different light shapers! Are you experimenting with light and want to share the results? Click here to contact us!


Photographer: Katie Thompson
Makeup: Eric Vosburg www.ericvosburg.com / @ericvosburg

Hair: Kiyonori Sudo www.kiyonorisudo.com / @kyo_sud

Model: Yin Yin at Elite / @hbing03

Katie Thompson is a fashion and beauty photographer based in New York. You can follow her online as @kkatiethompson and see more of her work online at katie-thompson.com