Do you want to know a secret? Do you want to know one of the ways I study photography? This might sounds rather simple, but I study photos that I like. If I see a photo that I like I'll study the reason why I like it. How the light is coming into the photo, how the photo is staged, and what is it about the photo that works. I spend a lot of time studing the light in the photo, the better I am able to understand the light in the photo, the better chances I have of being able to do the same. That is what inspired this particular photo shoot. I saw a photo that I liked, it was a rather moody photo, so I spent time studying the light.
UNDERSTANDING THE LIGHT
In this particular photo I have two main light sources. One from the window and one from a skylight. The light from the skylight isn't as prominent, but I wanted to address it, so we know exactly where all the light is coming in. The light from the main window is the main light source and when creating mood light that is what you want to focus on. You also want to choose backdrops that won't reflect the light. You want it to be moody and dark so choose dark objects.
SETTING THE STAGE
Let's break down the stage. As mentioned above, you want dark backgrounds. I used a black foam board and a blue foam board. Using two black foam boards would have been ideal, but I had black and blue, so that's want I went with. The problem with colored foam boards is that they will reflect the color that they are. For this particular shoot I didn't run into that problem too much because the surface that my camera and books were on were also a dark color.
Once the stage was set for my photograph it was time to add depth and detail. I could have set my camera down and called it good but the image would have looked flat and uninteresting. It was important to me to add depth. The books were added to give the camera a stage. The camera is the subject and adding the books provide an opportunity for the camera to be "on display." I then added the books behind the camera to add depth and interest.
PERFECTING THE LIGHT
When I first started shooting, light was coming in from the whole window. If you look in the photo above (to the left) you can see where the light is bouncing off the black foam board. I felt like this light reflection took away from the photo so I added two black object to block and better direct the light I wanted. The above photo (to the right) is the result of making the changes. You can see below the black objects I added to block and direct the light.
GO ONE STEP FURTHER
So, we've taken time to understand our light, we've set the stage, and we've added depth. We even took the time to perfect the light, but let's go one step further. The great thing about photography is that we can keep going, we can keep experimenting and we can keep trying until we get to the photo we want. Before I finished this shoot I went one step further. I had been wanting to shoot some fruit. It may sound random, but I thought thatthis particular shoot would be perfect to give it a try. I added apples as a final touch to my photo and for me it made me love the photo even more, adding a touch of color.
*TIP : I took these apples straight from the fridge when I did this shoot. Instead of wiping them off I left them as is, giving them a beautiful chilled look.
EXAMPLES: Nikon D300s + 35L
Each image was shot with an ISO of 400, F-stop 2.5, and shutter speed 1/40. A tripod was used to ensure the best lighting.
There is something that I think is so beautiful about mood lighting. It's beautiful and draws you in. I hope today helped you better understand the steps it takes to create mood lighting. And I hope it has given you lots of confidence moving forward!
Have you ever set the stage for mood lighting? What are some of your tips and tricks?