I got distracted at the end of October: took my eye off the ball. I realized, too late, that we were well into November and I hadn’t put together the Flickr Group Critique post! So I decided to just wait and combine October and November…I promise it won’t happen again! Anyway, it’s always fun to look through a month’s worth of submissions and see if any themes emerge. Looking through two months’ worth provided an even broader canvas to draw upon…and the theme that popped out was all about mood. Mood: atmosphere, mystery, dreamy thoughts—what does ‘mood’ mean to you?
This is a type of imagery that strongly appeals to me. I think we respond to atmospheric photographs on several levels, some visceral, some subconscious. I’ve chosen images that in one way or another illustrate this point: there may be more to what you’re seeing than is immediately apparent! Let’s get started:
“Live Oaks of Georgia,” by Preconscious Eye
I love the mystery here, all that Spanish moss and live oak woodsiness. I particularly like the subtle feeling of a tunnel that I get between the darker foreground and the light further down the pathway. It draws me eye in to the image, making me want to stop and look closer.
“Lacey Closeup,” by Julian Schroeder.
Although the title indicates to me that Lacey must be a household pet, the composition—with its intentional lack of scale—gives me a sense of foreboding and danger. Could Lacey be a huge predator cat, looking for her next meal? The yellow of the eye, surrounded by all of that grey and black, is mesmerizing as well. Nicely done.
“Kitchen Window, Evergreen Plantation,” by Larry Schirling.
This is a very formal composition with the use of the window frame. But the handblown antique glass provides the dreamy quality that makes this a good candidate for our group. The building at the lower left seems to almost shimmer!
“Paris,” by Antonio Silva.
Antonio has been shooting a lot of wonderful street photography in both Lisbon and Paris. While many of his images appeal to me, this one works particularly well for our present theme. I especially like the green up-light glow on the woman face and the yellow rim light around her head and shoulder.
“Walk This Way, Brooklyn Bridge,” by Mick Leconte.
Great image! Great use of perspective and vanishing point, my eye drawn into the bright glow of the lit-up bridge ahead. Mick, had it been raining? Did you have to take any special precautions to protect your gear?
“Buried Souls,” by CJ Schmit.
Subject matter, time of day, lighting technique all add up to a photograph that says mood and mystery to me. It might have been interesting to light a couple more of the graves further back, just to increase our sense of depth here. C.J. indicates on his Flickr page that the light painting was done with a Canon handheld strobe. This is a great way to get out and experience photography in a different way.
“The Morning Sun,” by Stuart Hart.
Fog and mist are always wonderful elements to work with. Here Stuart does a nice job of handling the fog in the distance, combining it with the strong verticals of the tree trunk silhouettes. This makes me think of a cathedral in the woods. I bet this was a nice morning of shooting, no Stuart?
“Sunset on the Embarcadero,” by Joe Chan.
Shooting when ‘magic light’ is available—the short, short bit of time, both morning and evening, when inside and outside lighting are roughly equal—can produce some remarkable images. This is a nice one from Joe.
So what about you? Do you seek out opportunities to shoot moody, mysterious images? If you’ve never tried it, this can be a great way to learn some new things about photography. You’ll need a tripod for most of this, slow ISO speeds and plenty of patience. But the payoff can be something you’ve never seen before.
Now: please let us know what you thought of these images in the Comments section below—we want to get a ‘virtual’ conversation going! Critiques are all about sharing ideas and gathering inspiration from other artists. So please don’t be greedy: let’s hear from you!
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog