100 Steps to IYP – Lesson 2: Moods…

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“Every picture should convey a mood” said someone. And they were right. I am of the opinion that whatever you do in life, it is the ‘feel’ that matters. And when it comes to photography, dramatic and moody photographs have this instant appeal, that hooks your attention.

So for our second lesson, I won’t talk about the rule of the thirds, leading lines, or any of the stuff that I’m bored with. I’ll talk about creating a moody picture and the tools that help you do that.

TIP 1: Use light… dramatic light…
Photography is essentially a play of light, and it is light, or the absence of it, that makes your pictures what they are. How, where, and what light is falling can make all the difference in a photograph. Once again, experiment. Use side light, top light, back light and any other direction you can think of. Play with sources of light. Candle light can lend a very dramatic feel to a portrait. The light during rainy weather or during dawn and dusk can lead to brilliant colour tones in landscapes.


Photo by b3ni  (using an N95)



TIP 2: Don’t use light… Use the absence of it…
Normally as photographers we would want maximum light to capture maximum detail. Naturally present shadows, if there, are fine. If not, then also it’s not too much of an issue. But intentionally including and using shadows can lead to some very amazing photographs. You can use shadows to frame or even to highlight the subject. Shadows can transform your pictures from flat to 3D, and even create interesting patterns that accentuate your picture. In fact, texture cannot be felt without shadows.

TIP 3: Shoot Silhouettes…
Silhouettes, apart from their obvious mood creating potential, also keep the viewer guessing. The simple absence of detail except the shape and outline is enough to give hints about the subject (or even make it very obvious) and at the same time leaving the viewer wondering. Also, action silhouettes like people jumping or running or throwing something can have a much higher impact than well lit shots of the same. Coupled with a dramatic backdrop, silhouettes very nicely illustrate the aesthetic value of shapes and forms.



Photo by Raphael


TIP 4: Use monotone… 

Black and white, especially those with high contrast, can again lead to very powerful images. In fact, many pictures that would otherwise look bland and average in normal colour can turn out to be extremely captivating in high contrast b&w. Not only black & white, even tones like sepia can impart a moody and ‘old’ feel to the picture. You do not have to limit yourselves to these two tones only. Play with warm and cool filters and see the results you get. You don’t have to buy filters necessarily; you can adjust the white balance to get plenty of in-camera filters.


Photo by Erman

TIP 5: Noise, Blur and Depth of Field…
… can all be used in different ways for interesting results. Noise can be coupled with monotone for a vintage feel. It also enhances journalistic pictures (as in photojournalism). Blur can be used to convey a sense of motion as in panning shots, or action using radial blur (where you zoom in or out during the exposure). Depth of field used creatively can result in photographs with a very dreamy feel to them, especially soft focused portraits.



Remember, all the tips I’m putting up here will need lots of implementation and experimentation. Combine two or more of the above points and see what you get. Use them independently and see what you get. If you went through the last lesson carefully, you would remember a very important tip “SHOOT, SHOOT and SHOOT some more”.

I look forward to your experiences. Comments, queries and critique are welcome as always :)

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