Atmosphere and mood play important roles in your iPhone photography. Mood conveys an emotional tone, while the atmosphere projects a sense of place and time. Both of these elements draw the viewer in, allowing them to connect with your photo. In this tutorial, you’ll discover how to use place, time, seasons, weather, colors and patterns to change and enhance the mood and atmosphere of your iPhone photos.
If you wish to depict a specific mood or atmosphere, keep in mind that they’re naturally affected by your surroundings. So the mood and atmosphere of your photo is often determined by the location.
Since lighting plays a pivotal role in creating mood and atmosphere, you’ll achieve a different mood indoors than you will outdoors.
Places filled with people are great for conveying activity and community, while places with few people can appear solitary and lonely.
Familiar places project a universal emotional tone. For example, most people would associate the atmosphere of a church with quiet reverence.
To see for yourself how the shooting location affects the mood of a photo, try capturing three unique moods simply by photographing in different places.
Remember, a place can be any location – even three different places in and around your home.
Here are some photographic examples of three different locations that convey different moods.
The photo above shot at a hospital was edited in black and white to intensify the drab and sterile environment.
Some places have a personal connection to the photographer with their own emotional sentiments. For instance, the photo above is of a sewing table at my grandmother’s home.
Although this is a place that’s personal to me, the image may bring up shared memories. The scene was edited with warm colors because they convey feelings of contentment and nostalgia.
In contrast to the first two photos, this one was shot outdoors. There’s a wonderful juxtaposition between man and nature in this image, with the solitary bench appearing to be overtaken by the forest overgrowth.
2. Time of Day
You may have noticed that your photos have a different mood and atmosphere depending on the time of day you shoot them.
Photos taken during the golden hour – the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset – produce a soft, diffused light with a lovely warm glow.
On the other hand, the strong midday sun in this photo creates harsh shadows. Photos taken at midday convey tension because of the sharp contrast between light and shadow.
Shooting after sunset tends to add a sense of drama and mystery to your photos because of the darkness in the shadows.
To get a better idea of how the time of day and type of light affects the mood of your photos, try to capture feelings of softness and hardness by shooting at different times of day.
Here are two examples:
In above photo of sunrise at the beach, the colors are soft pastels and the overall atmosphere of the photo is gentle and soothing.
In contrast, this photo of a crack in the wall was shot at midday. The sun streaming in from the top of the wall creates strong shadows which emphasize the crack and the texture of the wall.
Another aspect of time is the seasons. Each season has a distinct atmosphere which is conveyed through changes in light, color and weather.
You can see this very clearly if you photograph trees during every season throughout the year.
In the spring, trees blossom with flowers and appear both vibrant and delicate. Signs of rebirth are everywhere.
Summer trees are abundant with green leaves reaching their branches up towards a cool blue sky.
Autumn imparts a comforting atmosphere through the warm hues of orange, yellow and brown foliage.
In the winter, the bare branches convey a somber mood and stillness. You can emphasize the starkness of winter trees with a black and white edit.
The best way to demonstrate how the seasons affect the atmosphere in your photos is to shoot the same location or same kind of subject throughout the year.
At the end of the year you can look back over your photo series and analyze what kind of emotions they evoke when you look at them.
People tend to associate weather patterns with specific emotions. So try to work with the weather to achieve different photographic moods.
For example, if you’re shooting on a bright, sunny day it may be difficult to capture a photo that appears moody and dark.
A sunny day conveys happiness and enthusiasm, while the bleakness of an overcast day can produce a mood that’s serious or solemn.
Fog is great for creating mystery, while rain can bring up feelings of melancholy.
The photo below of a single leaf in the snow conveys the stillness and quiet of a winter day.
Practice using different weather elements to convey different moods in your photos. And don’t be put off by bad weather – this is often the best time to capture dramatic or moody images!
Colors are excellent for creating mood and atmosphere. They can project a wide range of qualities and emotions such as tranquility, passion or joy.
Orange, yellow and red are considered warm colors, while blue, purple and green are cool.
In general, warm colors convey comfort, excitement and action. Cool colors convey serenity and peacefulness.
The photo above is an example of using color to generate a specific mood. During the editing process, I enhanced the red color of the fire truck to intensify a sense of action and urgency.
Subdued, earthy colors make the viewer feel relaxed, and this works especially well for nature and landscape photography.
Green, for example, is a calming color. The photo above contains at least three green objects: the leaves of the tree behind the porch, the chair cushions, and the column behind the chair.
These different shades of green work together to produce a soft and soothing image.
A lack of color also conveys mood, so don’t forget to experiment with converting your images to black and white.
The stark contrast of black and white photography often gives a photo a sense of timeless mystery.
Patterns appear whenever strong graphic elements such as lines, colors, shapes or forms repeat themselves. The repetition may be structured or very organic.
Both natural and man-made patterns add visual harmony and rhythm to your photos. They can also tell very different emotional stories.
Symmetrical and linear patterns like those found in architecture convey strength and order, while more free-form patterns feel light and playful.
Try using a combination of colors and patterns to convey both a light and a serious mood. Below are two examples.
Although this isn’t an architectural subject, the black and white contrast and symmetry of the tree make it appear more structural, giving it a serious tone.
In contrast, the bright colors and random pattern of leaves in this photo creates a lighter mood.
Creating mood and atmosphere in your photography helps the viewer to connect with your images. Depending on the mood you create, it can make bring out certain emotions or memories in the viewer.
It can also make your photo more tactile and realistic. For example, allowing them to “feel” the warmth of the sun or the crispness of fallen leaves in autumn.
The next time you snap a photo with your iPhone, take a good look at your surroundings to consider how they’ll affect the mood and atmosphere of your photo.
Working with these elements in your environment will bring out the best in your iPhone photos.
Make use of place, time, seasons, weather, colors and patterns to change the mood and atmosphere of your iPhone photos.
And don’t forget that you can enhance the mood of your photos in post-processing. Editing apps can be used to alter color and exposure, as well as apply more artistic effects such as textures and painterly styles.
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