Feeling Moody?

by Lucas Westcoat January. 09, 2017 1593 views

Maybe it's the notoriously gloomy Seattle weather, but photos that convey mood always seem to jump off the page/screen to me. It adds a visceral quality to the work that makes a technically competent photo interesting.

This is something with which I'm constantly experimenting. Below are a few examples with a little insight in to how I tried to convey mood. Thoughts are welcome.

The above photo was intended to give an ethereal quality... almost dreamlike. Most of this was captured in-camera by posing her in such a way and shooting toward the sun and with the water reflecting heavily. I know what you're thinking "of course a photo like this jumped out to him." Keep reading and let's see what happens when we have a different subject and mood.

through posing, color tint (not temp), tone and vignette, there's a melancholy or contemplative quality

In the above shot, this gentleman is looking down and away from the camera which adds a little bit of melancholy. The green tint makes it appear cool, but not cold in the way you'd see through temperature adjustments. The vignette and tone work give the backdrop some texture. The shot by itself wouldn't be much, I'll admit. I think it's the moody treatment that makes it unusual. I'm certainly not saying to always have your models avoid eye contact with the camera, but in this case I think it was additive. Read on.

The power of eye contact and partial obstruction to draw attention

The bokeh background, framing, and direct eye contact from the model give this almost a voyeuristic quality. The warm tones were intended to compliment her skin tone and make this feel like an attraction vs. a threat. I could've just as easily made this look scary without changing a thing about the model or composition. You aren't likely to see this as a threat because of the mood of the photo.

So far, color has been a primary tool to convey mood, but what happens when you aren't shooting in color?

The intention with the above shot was to be raw, gritty, but still feminine. Using my ISO setting I was able to get most of this grain. Some of the shadows were dialed up in post through use of levels and curves. Two powerful tools when it comes to adding mood, especially in black and white photos.

softer tone and contrast with a hint of grain

I rarely shoot families in black and white (not sure why), but there was something timeless to me about this shot in black and white. Similar technique use here as the previous shot, just different application. The result is something much softer.

What do you think?

Am I too enamored with mood?

What techniques have you used to convey mood? Please share!

To see more of my work, visit my website www.elldubphoto.com

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