September 10, 2013

Using Color to Create Mood

Mt. Baker and Full Moon

I'm not sure how often the full moon shows up within frame of Mt. Baker but I was lucky to be able to preserve this moment and use this as an example for my previous assignment (A8) with Ming Thein's Email School of Photography. This assignment is about colour, tone and brightness and how it affects our mood and the way we feel about images. It boils down to psychology, how we feel at a given situation depends a lot on light; bright/white being pure and clean, dark being mysterious/dangerous, warm yellow light is homely and welcoming, blue is detached/impersonal/scientific/clean/cold, green & purple are alien. Most of these associations are due to the way we are used to observing the real world. Cinematographers use this all the time to create a certain feel for a scene. It heightens the impact of the rest of the visuals because we are predisposed to observing them in a certain way.

A different mood, full moon and Mt. Baker

The first image above is how I remember the scene at sunset. It was a warm afternoon and the glow of the setting sun created that overall warm feeling. The second image is the same exact photograph except I shifted the temperature to make it appear cooler. With this exercise I learned that you can create a different mood for a photograph simply by shifting the colour temperature provided the WB is spot on. The other option of course is to find light of the right colour temperature which is harder in practice.

The Meeting at The Drop
The meeting at the drop

If you're wondering what the heck that sculpture is it is called "The Drop". It resembles a raindrop, I guess the artists felt it was appropriate because it rains quite a lot in Vancouver, BC.

Photography is as much about understanding and influencing the psychology of our viewers as it is about expressing what we see. Being able to do so makes it easier to get our message across.

The Potato Twister at the Richmond Night Market

For this assignment Ming provided me with some reading/reference materials. I strongly suggest you read them too.
  1. Chasing Perfect Color and Common Myths about WB
  2. The Inexact Science of Color and Emotion
  3. Defining Cinematic 
Morning ritual

This assignment was quite challenging for me. Not because it was hard but because I was super crazy busy at work and I was uninspired. I did not feel like shooting. Ming suggested to not force it, to take a break because that feeling actually showed in my images. I ended up repeating this exercise and that is proof that if you are not in the mood to create photographs then something must be done and it must not be forced. The resulting images will show it and unfortunately it is quite impossible to hide.

Window view

One more assignment and I'm done with the email school. The last assignment is a combination of previous assignments, kind of a final exam. Shoot any subject and apply all previous learnings then take some time to curate the results and pick the best 5 images.

- EP.


  1. Very nice images, Eugene! I missed your updates the last months!
    I have a technical question, how did you create the watermark outside the picture in the black frame? I would like to create a similar one for my own blog. Thanks!

    1. Hi Gonzalo, first of all my apologies for the delayed response. I did not get any notification about your comment and I was on a break for a while on photography. But I'm back. Regarding your question, I do it in Photoshop, similar to how you put a water mark but I add a black border first and I just align the watermark to the black border. I hope that helps.