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This post was most recently updated on January 8th, 2023

Short and broad lighting refers to the type of light source that produces a very wide angle of illumination.

The light is usually emitted from a single point or a narrow range of points. Short and broad light sources include spotlights, flashguns, and strobes.

The main benefit of using short and broad lighting is that it allows you to create dramatic shadows on your subject.

You can also use this technique for creating interesting patterns on objects.

In addition, it’s great for shooting portraits because it makes the face appear larger than life.

Here are some tips to help you take better photos using short and broad light.

What Is Broad Lighting And Short Lighting?

Broad lighting and short lighting are different lighting techniques used during studio photography.

They are particularly popular for portrait photography.

The best way to think about these lighting setups is as the way that you position the lights in relation to the nose of whoever is the subject of the photograph.

A broad lighting setup will illuminate the side of the subject’s face that is closest to the camera.

Short lighting makes the darker, shadowy side of the face the one that is closest to the camera.

They both differ from frontal lights that create a shadow underneath the subject’s nose rather than on either side of the face.

Broad and short lighting will look different on each subject as it will depend on several factors.

Each subject has different facial features of varying prominence and the placement of their nose and cheekbones will change the way that the light and shadows fall on their face.

The type of light that you use will also change the outcome of the photograph. You could use hard or soft light, and move the light closer to or further from the subject.

You position the model to change the side of the face that is closest to the camera, depending on which side the subject prefers.

They might have scars on one side that they would rather hide, or that they would like to feature more heavily in the photograph.

Short Lighting

When you are setting up short lighting in your studio, the placement of the shadows is incredibly important.

The shadows will make the subject’s face look more three-dimensional, giving more structure to their face.

You can adjust the shadows to add more mood and feeling to the photographs, making them look edgier.

Short lighting is great for elongating the subject’s face, making it appear more slender. This makes it ideal for subjects with rounder or shorter faces.

The downside to short lighting is that any imperfections on the subject’s skin are visible. It will also highlight different skin textures, wrinkles, and facial hair. For this reason, it is often used on male models.

Broad Lighting

Broad lighting creates a brighter image than short lighting. This is perfect if you want a portrait that is less edgy and has more of a positive, happy feeling.

Broad lighting is great for subjects with small, narrow faces as it will make their face seem a bit bigger.

It is also good for taking attention away from skin imperfections and wrinkles, giving the subject’s skin a smoother texture.

This lighting is often used for portraits of female models.

Can You Use Broad And Short Lighting With Natural Light?

Can You Use Broad And Short Lighting With Natural Light

Broad and short lighting is a very popular setup to use in a studio environment where it is easy to control the light.

However, it is possible to achieve some fantastic results with natural light as well.

One of the best ways to experiment with this is to place the subject in a shaded area next to a window.

By using a shaded area, you will have more control over the light and it won’t be as harsh.

You can adjust the angle of the subject in relation to the light, changing the positioning of the shadows and moving them closer and further from the light source for a harder or softer result.

You can also use a reflector to create different lighting effects, or a secondary light source to create a split lighting effect.

Can You Use Short Lighting And Broad Lighting In The Same Photograph?

We have looked at the differences between broad lighting and short lighting, but what if you want to use them both at once?

If there is more than one subject in the photograph then you might want to light their faces differently. This is common in mother and baby photoshoots, as well as couple’s portraits.

This will take careful positioning of the light and the subjects. You might need to decide which subject is going to be the primary focus of the photograph so you can prioritize their lighting.

How Can You Control The Shadows?

You can change the position of the main light source and the position of the subject to adjust the shadows and how they fall on the subject’s face.

However, there is also another way to control the shadows in the photograph.

Fill lighting is used in portrait photography both in and outside of a studio environment. Fill lighting could be used for ambient lighting, a reflector, additional lighting, or even a natural light source.

Light is a huge part of photography.

Learning how to use light to flatter your subjects, bring out the mood and character of the subjects and the photograph, and create art, are all part of being a good photographer.

So, Which Is Better? Broad Or Short Lighting?

As you can see, broad lighting and short lighting are very different. However, they are both used to create excellent portraits.

Which one you use depends on what kind of look you are trying to create, whether you want the photograph to look edgy or bright, and how best to flatter your subject.

You can experiment with broad and short lighting, and also make adjustments to the positioning of the subjects and light source to see what effects you like best.