How to Achieve a Dark and Moody Photography Style: 9 Tips

You can achieve many styles in photography, but the dark and moody look is perhaps one of the most popular. Several famous creators have adopted the style for their images, inspiring numerous crafters to follow in their footsteps.

Achieving dark and moody photography may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a number of ways you can get closer to your preferred results, and this article will show you some of the best.

1. Underexpose the shot on your camera

To achieve a dark and moody style of photography, you should start with the image itself. While it’s generally a good idea to keep your exposure meter as close to 0 as possible, this isn’t a universal rule for every type of image.

By nature, dark and moody photos are less exposed than ordinary ones. Therefore, you should slightly underexpose the images you take with your camera.

If you underexpose your photos, try not to go too far. Otherwise, you’ll add unwanted grain and lose important detail. Anywhere between 0 and -1 on your light meter is good enough.

You can also learn more about the Exposure Triangle to learn how to underexpose the shot as you shoot.

2. Use a colder white balance

If you look at atmospheric photos, you will see that they often lack warm tones. If you’ve found yourself using automatic white balance up until now, now is a good time to change things up and take more control.

Use a colder white balance when trying to achieve a dark and moody style of photography. The easiest way to do this is to adjust the Kelvin meter in your camera; The lower the number, the colder your white balance will be.

Most modern cameras have a Kelvin meter that you can set. Normally you have to go to the internal menus if you want to change this function. Learn more about how to achieve the perfect white balance.

3. Shoot on cloudy or rainy days

The lighting conditions at the time of recording play an important role in the appearance of your images. And while it’s not impossible to create dark and moody photos on a sunny day, it will be a little tricky.

If you look at most moody photos, you’ll see that the photographer took them on cloudy or rainy days – after all, moody weather makes moody photos. You should consider doing the same; You can use the ominous clouds as an additional feature in your image.

If you are shooting on rainy days, be sure to protect your camera gear. Ideally, you have a weatherproof camera and lens. If you don’t have these, consider buying a cover for your camera.

4. Desaturate the images

Many atmospheric photos do not contain many colors. Therefore, you should take a similar approach when trying to achieve a dark or moody style.

You can desaturate your images in your camera by adjusting the image settings. The process varies by manufacturer, but generally you’ll need to go to the photo-specific option in your menu.

In addition to desaturating your photos on your camera, you can do the same with image editing software. With Lightroom and Capture One you can do this just as easily as with Photoshop.

5. Increase the contrast

Another common feature of dark and moody images is their high contrast. Again, you can do this in-camera; You’ll usually find these settings in the same place as for Saturation.

But like desaturation, you can also adjust your contrast in post-production software. You can find options for this on most major platforms. Lightroom and Photoshop Express for mobile also have similar features.

6. Reduce exposure in Lightroom

In addition to underexposing your photos in your camera, you can also reduce the exposure for each image in Lightroom. This is as easy as moving the exposure Slider to the left if you want to make basic adjustments.

You can also play with tone curve Tool if you want to reduce exposure in certain parts of your photo. Once you find a formula that works, you can create presets to simplify your workflow for future dark and moody images.

7. Think of a storyline in advance

As with all other forms of photography, achieving a dark and moody style is easier as you improve your storytelling. Sure, you can take pictures that are beautiful to look at—but people are more likely to remember your pictures if they have a story behind them.

Before taking a photo, consider the weather conditions that day. You should also spend a little time taking in your surroundings before taking your shots to get a feel for the atmosphere.

Once you have a better idea of ​​the story you want to tell, experiment with your images and see which methods work best for you.

8. Shoot in the fog

If you want to create unique moody images, shooting in low cloud is an excellent place to start. Misty days tend to have more of a melancholic feel, making them perfect for capturing the emotions you want to convey in your images.

Of course, finding a foggy day depends a lot on where you live. If you live in the US, you might find it easier to catch a foggy day in a city like San Francisco. You must also be an early riser; In most cases, this is the best time to capture fog.

9. Choose only one topic

Not picking many subjects is a good rule of thumb when shooting in any scenario. But if you’re trying to achieve a dark and moody style, you might want to stick with just one.

Choosing only one subject creates a sense of isolation. Additionally, you can use your foreground and background to get a better sense of scale.

Examples of subjects that you can select as the main subject are a person, a boat, or a wild animal.

Be dramatic with dark and moody shots

Achieving a dark and moody style of photography isn’t easy, but it’s easier than you might think. There are several strategies you can use to do this, with many options for how you use your camera—but you can also do most of it in post-production software.

In general, you should focus on colder colors and choose a smaller selection for each image. In addition, you should consider desaturating many parts of your photos. Choosing unusual weather and lighting conditions also helps.

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