Understanding light is the core theoretical skill of the photographer. The ability to manage and control what is shown in an image is a planned way and it all stems from this.
Diffusing light, in many different instances, is going to be one of the bread and butter skills of most photographers – especially if they photograph people, but also in other types of photography.
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Diffused light tends to present subjects in a far more visually satisfying way than harsh light.
Image from Pexels by Stiv xyz
Here are the three main ways to soften light to get those more attractive images.
Diffuse It – This basically means putting something between the harsh light source and your subject. This might be a professionally made diffuser, but can also be as simple as a window curtain, a sheet or even by placing the white sheet reflector in your camera bag between the sun and your model. This doesn’t need to be complicated, but for most people, for photography in harsh conditions (which does include flash), it does need to be done.
Place Your Subject Near Bounced Light – Taking your subject out of the direct light of the sun or a flash (etc) is very common. If you can find an area in which you can place them that allows bounced light to fall on them, then you will end up with a more desirable picture. Typically this is a wall or ceiling in the case of flash photography (you will notice that many wedding photographers point their flash at a wall or the ceiling).
Use a Reflector – Reflectors are usually used to “fill in the shadows” when harsh light fall across your subject. They are one of the most effective pieces of cheap kit that you can carry, so strongly consider getting one for your camera bag.
Now understanding and controlling light is a topic that is far too large and you should consider checking out Kent’s guide if you get a chance.