Control the Mood

Posted by on Jul 28, 2013 in Techniques | 0 comments

Control the Mood

When we come to look at the final element in my mantra BE CALM it is time to look at the mood of the photo. To consider the mood of a photography before making the shot helps bring our thoughts back to the our intent for making the picture. What is it about the scene that you are trying to portray to the viewer, what is it that you want them to feel when looking at your image.


Guitar Hands by Ken Dickson
1/80sec @ f5.6, ISO250
Canon 40d with Sigma 105mm

Thinking about the mood is another good way to focus your thoughts before making the image. Once you have decided on what mood you are trying to portray that next step is to think about how you can create that mood.

As with most things in photography we have a number of options to help us control mood.

1) Colour – The way we apply our use of colour within the picture goes a very long way to control the mood. For example, images with a dominant green colour will invoke a sense of natural freshness whilst utilsing a dominant blue colour or tone will make the viewer feel a sense of coolness. Invoking a mood with a colour will come about from either using that colour within the frame or using that colour with our light. A common trick applied when using a flash outdoors is to place an Orange gel over the flash to “warm” up the light and replicate late afternoon sunlight.


Greener on the edge by Ken Dickson
1/125sec @ f5.6, ISO200
Canon 40d with Canon 17-85mm

2) Monochrome – The lack of colour can also be a strong driver for mood in our photography. When we remove colour from the picture it is important to ensure that the other elements are strong enough to tell the story, elements that come to the fore in monochrome pictures are lines, shapes, tones and textures. A good monochrome picture will make use of one of these elements as a leading replacement for the absence of colour.


Afternoon on the sand by Ken Dickson
1/125sec @ f9.5, ISO100
Canon 40d with Sigma 17-70mm

3) Darken or lighten the scene – Sometimes our intent for the image requires a mood that is predominately darker or light than the scene we have before us. So to darken the image, you may choose to under expose within the camera. For dramatic skies on landscapes I often choose to use a graduated filter, this makes the sky darker whilst allowing you to expose correctly for the foreground.  Another example of aiming for darker images is the Ozlight Film Noir course where we are aiming for a very heavy black and white feel to reflect that 1940 styles of Film Noir. To brighten an image you may choose to overexpose in camera or bring additional light into the scene.

Using any of these tools mentioned will help you control the mood of the image and that will ensure that your images become a lot more engaging for your viewer.

As this series of blogs about my mantra for comes to a close I hope that you found these articles interesting and informative. The mantra is the method I use to ensure that I take to the time to think before pressing the shutter button, it does not take a long time (mere seconds) and it does not rely on any particular equipment. It does produce results because in most cases the difference between grabbing a snapshot or making a beautiful image is a little bit of thought.

So remember before you push the shutter button


Breath & Examine; Composition, Angle, Light and Mood




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