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© Derek Randall 2019 All rights reserved

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Capturing Different Moods

Disturbance © Derek Randall all rights reserved

In my last post I introduced the idea of conveying mood with photographs with the premise that the strongest images are able to communicate feeling with a viewer. The example image from that post is shown below.

Stillness © Derek Randall all rights reserved
  1. What mood does the image evoke?

  2. Could you describe that feeling?

I suspect that there will be a variety of different feelings that people will get from this image according to their own tastes and experiences. Yet, if someone asks themselves the same questions of the photo at the top of this post, I don't believe that their answers will be the same.

So why is that the case?

There are two main factors at play here (beyond actual composition and subject).

  1. Colour palette

  2. Movement

The good news is, as photographers, we have control over both of these to a large extent.

Let's first look at colour. Ignoring for a moment what we can do in post-processing, we can choose when to photograph a scene. This means the time of day, season, and weather all make up our scene. If either of the photos in today's post were taken in Summer they would have quite different moods. Similarly, direct sunshine would very much change the feel. In both of these cases the images would have a much warmer feel.

In terms of post processing we have the option to increase or decrease saturation of colour. We can add warmth or coolness to the scene. There are all manner of different colour response settings to choose from if we wish. These settings may be changed globally throughout the image, or applied to specific colours or areas within the photo.

I will talk more about the editing side of photography in later posts.

Now onto movement. The titles of these images rather give the game away regarding motion. The top image has lots of movement in the reeds and in the sky. The second photo is free from any motion. It is for this reason that the first photo likely creates a much greater feeling of drama than the second.

Let's put colour and movement together to work out how the mood of each photo was created.

In Disturbance there is a colour palette dominated by dark blue-grey tones over the straw coloured reeds. There is large sweeping motion in the sky and swirling in the foreground reeds. This gives us drama and tension. The conditions are not yet stormy, but there is very much a feeling of the impending.

Stillness, by contrast, has a warmer tone with bright greens, oranges, and yellows. This is balanced by areas of brown in the exposed tree branches. There is an absence of motion. The combination of colour and movement in Stillness is much more ambiguous than in Disturbance. You may find the lack of movement and Autumn colours to be peaceful and restful. However you may equally feel that the contrast of the Autumn colour with the bare brown, when combined with the stillness gives a more melancholic feeling.

Hopefully this post has given you a more in-depth idea about creating mood in your photography. The next couple of posts are going to look at how these images were created in the field. I'll discuss the visualisation process and the technical execution.