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Post Production Tips

Using Darkness To Create Mood In Your Images | Jimmy McIntyre

By Hanssie on May 16th 2016

Mood in photography is quite subjective. What one photographer may deem “moody” will likely be different for another. We can all agree, though, that mood can encompass many different emotions and incorporating it in your images will make your images stand out, even if the viewer cannot pinpoint exactly what they love about it.

There are many ways to create various moods in an image, just as there can be many different moods an image can portray. Ultimately, you want your image to evoke some sort of emotion from the viewer, to engage them in some way; to make them stop for a second and contemplate. One of the most common ways to create mood in an image to manipulate the interplay of ‘lights’ and ‘darks’, and this can be done both in-camera and in post.


In the following video tutorial, Jimmy McIntyre, in a new series, “Photo Talk,” found on his YouTube channel, discusses how darkness influences the mood of an image. In many of his landscape photos, Jimmy explains his preference to create a “nice, dark scene which centers around a strong powerful light source,” and he shows us how to do so using a few of his own images.

One of the most important things to consider when deciding how to balance light in a scene, is how to draw your viewer’s eyes to the light source. To do this, carefully adjust the shadows to influence how strong you want your mood to be, and use them to shape and frame your image. Throughout the 10-minute clip, Jimmy walks us through a few of his images and how he uses shadow and light to draw the eye of the viewer, with a significant focus on the manipulation of dark areas (without underexposing them) by adjusting the midtones, shadows, and highlights.

[REWIND: Split Toning | The ‘Secret’ In The Recipes For Many Adored Images, & Totally Undervalued]

His tool of choice to make the adjustments is the Raya Pro Panel for Photoshop, but as always, doesn’t leave you hanging if you don’t have don’t have Raya Pro in your arsenal, and suggests other ways and other tools to use. SLR Lounge writer, Max Bridge, recently reviewed the Raya Pro panel and you can read his review of it here.

For more information on Raya Pro, click here.

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

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