"refers to light that tends to "wrap" around objects, casting shadows with soft edges".
The softness of the light depends mostly on the following two factors:
Distance. The closer the light source, the softer it becomes.
Size of light source. The larger the source, the softer it becomes.
Soft light use is popular in cinematography and film.
Hard light sources cast shadows whose appearance of the shadow depends on the lighting instrument.That is, the shadows produced will have 'harder' edges with less transition between illumination and shadow. The focused light will produce harder-edged shadows. Focusing a fresnel makes the rays of emitted light more parallel. The parallelism of these rays determines the quality of the shadows. For shadows with no transitional edge/gradient, a point light source is required.
When hitting a textured surface at an angle, hard light will accentuate the textures and details in an object.
Backlighting refers to the process of illuminating the subject from the back. In other words, the lighting instrument and the viewer are facing towards each other, with the subject in between. This causes the edges of the subject to glow, while the other areas remain darker. The backlight can be a natural or artificial source of light.
Front lighting is where there is either natural or studio lighting placed in front of the subject. This can create shadows on not only the face but also in the background. It puts more focus on the front of the subject.
Studio lighting is where lighting is set up in a studio and the photographer can plan where they want the light to be, for example, on the left or right side, back lighting, front lighting, etc... It gives the photographer the freedom to experiment with lighting to see how the photographs come out.
Natural light is a photographers most accessible form of light. It can create quite magical effects (as shown in the example below) for instance, if the light is shining through the gaps in the trees. You can do all sorts of photography techniques: backlighting, front lighting and more just from using the sunlight.
Torch lighting is when the photographer takes a torch and places it where they want the light source to be. It can create good effects and also can be very dramatic, as shown in the example below.
Laser photography is mainly used for Light Painting. This is made by using a very slow shutter speed, and painting pictures with the laser pen. You can use different colours and make all sorts of pictures. For example, the light painting below is of Bambi, a famous Disney character.