Capturing Nature’s Mood

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Each season brings different moods to our natural landscape. Winter shows us a moody vision with clouds, rain or snow, and lower light. The colors shift from bright summer colors to subdued winter shades. The tonal quality moves towards the middle tones, and contrast is decreased. Clouds in the sky become a giant diffusion filter, diffusing the natural light and letting less light hit the landscape.

The image below shows low lying clouds nestled between hillsides, leafless trees, and rain drops on the water. Less light brings a “darker” feeling to the forest. The aperture is larger to bring sharpness to the entire photograph. So, what mood does it show?

copyright Karen Ulvestad

The composition affects the amount of light that shows in the photograph. Less sky leaves less light in the image. More sky includes more light. Each of these situations changes how the camera “reads” the available light. The exposure with more forest is easier to get a correct exposure, and details in the land features. When more sky is included, the exposure needs to over-expose the scene, if details are wanted in the forest and land features.

In the image below, the exposure allows more light to create the image. The mid-tones (Highlights and Shadows) are worked on through Adobe Camera RAW, which brings out more detail in both the clouds and the trees. A similar exposure can be created in-camera using HDR.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

Drama in the image is created through working on contrast, keeping areas darker/lighter, or desaturating the color (including black & white). The best way to create “moody” images is to shoot RAW files, and refine the photograph on the computer. Sometimes, it is simple like darkening specific areas, and lightening others. The image below is desaturated color. There is still a little bit of color left in the green trees. The clouds contribute to the separation of the darker, tree covered hills. This image shows more contrast in this monochromatic form, than full color.

copyright Karen Ulvestad

As I navigate through the new reality of the pandemic and other challenges, I am teaching more classes and workshops online. If you would like more information on this topic, feel free to contact me directly. Thank you. . .

Happy Shooting. . .Karen

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