Light comes in two types – hard and soft. Hard light comes from a small light source (e.g. direct sun, or direct flash); you see clearly defined edges to your shadows with hard light. Soft light happens when you have a big light source (e.g. the sun through clouds, or flash through a large diffuser); you don’t get clearly defined shadows with soft light.
If you’re a landscape photographer you probably shy away from hard light and wait for some nice soft but bright light. Soft light is generally easier to work with. Hard light is more difficult, but can be used creatively as in this series of images which have a strong contrast between the light and dark areas of the images:
As you can see, hard light can be used to make your subject stand out in a shard of light against a dark background. Plus you can use hard light to create shapes if you find places where the light is doing that. It’s all about getting your exposure exactly right so that the bright areas are well exposed and the shadows are allowed to go very dark.
Manual mode is the best way to work here so that you can pre set your exposure with the bright areas well exposed, and the shadow almost black.
You need to wait for a sunny day for shots like this, and visit places where you see shafts of light and interestingly shaped shadows.
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