Camera Club of Hendersonville, NC | Thoughts about Mood Photography

00200 90 Ravaged by Forest Fire00200 90 Ravaged by Forest FireThe largest wildfire in Yellowstone history left its mark on the forests of the Park in 1988.

Mood Photography essentially relates to the lighting in a shot. Giving something mood can mean we are trying to make it dark and brooding, but mood can relate to any lighting situation, to give your photo any emotional feeling.

For landscape photography, mood usually relates to the weather. A cloudy, unsettled day will create mood in a way most of us expect it to be - dark and brooding. Although the opposite, where streaks of sun break through cloud to shine light on parts of the green landscape are equally as good, it's just the mood/feeling is different. Fogy days can most certainly convey mood.

Black and white is another way to create mood in your photography. Taking photos of a twisted tree, for example, in black and white will look so much more foreboding than a shot in color.. You can shoot black and white in-camera although, if you shoot in color, you can convert your shots to black and white in your chosen editing software, giving you more control over the tones, highlights and shadows in the shot.

The most memorable photographs are ones that evoke a certain mood or feeling, but figuring out how to capture that mood in your own photos can be somewhat difficult. After all, modern cameras excel at taking very pretty pictures with excellent exposure and perfect focus, but sometimes that's not at all what you want. Sometimes it's the "flaws" in a photo that make it truly evocative.

Capturing mood in photographs is definitely an art, not a science. However, there are techniques to it, both in how you take the picture and in post-processing. Of course, how you go about making your viewers feel a certain way will depend on what mood you're trying to evoke; a bright, happy, nostalgic photo is very different from a dark, misty, pensive photo. A picture that evokes anger or loneliness will look much different from one that evinces joy. How you use and manipulate color, light, texture, and shape will all affect the mood of your photos.


Usually when you think of "moody" photographs, you think of somber, shadowy, low-key scenes. To capture these types of feelings, look for days when the weather matches the mood. Low clouds, fog, and dim-light will all help portray that gray feeling. You might even want to embrace the grainy nature of shooting with a high ISO (which is helpful in low-light anyway), to add to a feeling of gritty imperfection.
One of the best ways to summon the dream-like quality of memory is to break some of the rules. Position your subject with the sun behind them and overexpose a bit for a bright, diffuse light. Keep your depth of field narrow, and your subject slightly out of focus. Lower the color saturation in post processing to give your photos a faded feeling.

If you're looking more to create less pleasant emotions like anger or stress, go for oversaturated colors, sharp corners, and jagged edges. Use very high contrast to create a feeling of tension. Unusual angles and perspectives throw off your viewer just enough to be unsettling. Before you send in your images be sure and review the Submission Guidelines on our website. When you size and name your images according to our protocol, you make Peter's job a whole lot easier as he puts together the Forum slide show/