Creating Mood in Images

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Duration: 19:11

Sometimes, you take a great outdoor photograph, you go through post-production editing, but somehow you can’t quite convey the visual mood you want in your photo. The quality just doesn’t seem to compare to the pros. But put on your editing cap, because there is a solution. In this video, Outdoor Photography Guide’s pro photographer Matt Bishop takes you through a few different methods for creating mood in your compositions.

Creating mood is a step-by-step editing process, and you need to be patient. Matt starts with a forest image from the high country in Italy. The colors are saturated but dull and the overall composition has little depth. Matt’s goal in creating mood was to capture the feeling of the Lord Of The Rings cinematography.

He calls this technique color bleeding. He starts with Camera Raw and slightly reduces the contrast and saturation. In Photoshop, he creates a Soft Light layer, then uses the Color Picker, chooses a dark blue, then drops that color into the total image.

For your own image, it’s important to use the opacity tool to gradually bleed the blue into the edited file. Then, try experimenting with different colors to create the mood of the photograph you see in your imagination. Color-bleeding greens, dark browns, and even blacks can instill a cinematographic feeling into a forest scene.

For another painterly technique called Orton Effect, Matt uses his landscape of the orchard valley in Tuscany to demonstrate mood creation. The overall process is somewhat similar to color bleeding. Keep in mind to compare the before and after in the post-processing of your image.