The Facts Of Light

What are the properties of light that photographers need to worry about? Here's an overview.

  • Light travels in a direction
  • Light reflects off of things
  • Light defracts around things
  • Light has brightness, or intensity
  • Light has color. Not all white light is the same white
  • Light can be considered 'Hard' or 'Soft'
  • Light can be polarized
  • A light source can be continuous, or not

Let's refine this to a more practical list of properties that photographers care about on a daily basis.

  • Light has a direction.We care a lot about where light comes from, and in what direction that light source is coming from.
  • A light source is a certain distance away. We care about how far away the light is, not just how bright it is.
  • Light is hard or soft. We care about this quality of light.
  • Light has a color.

These 4 properties of light are the most important. Let's talk about each in detail. First, the location of the light source: It's distance and direction.

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