Capturing Moody Photos

When you hear the words moody photos, what comes to mind? I always think about photos taken when the scene is blanketed by a heavy mist. Fog and mist can create the subtle lighting required to capture moody images.

Fog and Mist

  • Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park; Washington (WA); USA

    Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

  • Mantled in Mist - Varina Patel

    Mantled in Mist, Banff National Park

Take a look at the mist in this shot from Lake Crescent in Washington’s Olympic National Park. It filters the soft, morning light and, along with the wide-angle lens, it helps create great depth in the image. The mist adds a sense of mystery to the scene. The second shot from Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada has some similar characteristics. The fog creates a sense of mystery and a certain moodiness in the image. In both cases, we also made the most of selective lighting as we chose our subjects. Notice that the light in each image is mostly focused on just one area in each photo.

Controlling Exposure

  • Anna Bay, Australia 
  •  Anna Bay, Australia

Another creative way to create moody images is by changing exposure. This is exactly what Jay did while photographing this scene in Australia. The image on the left is under-exposed by about 1.0 EV (exposure value), while the image on the right is taken with a normal exposure. As you can see, the dramatic mood created by under-exposing the image is lost in the image with normal exposure. You can achieve the same results by post-processing a normally exposed image.

Moody Storm Lighting


Dark, heavy, overcast clouds during storms produce similar results. Here is an image captured during a sudden thunderstorms in Yellowstone National Park.

Feel free to share your own examples of moody photos in the comments below.

About Author Jay Patel

I could startoff like this – “Seeds of Jay Patel’s appreciation for beautiful places were planted early in his childhood….” but it would get boring really fast. I will just sum it up and say that I am a Landscape and Wilderness Photographer who loves to capture dramatic light. My photographs have been published in various magazines, calendars and advertising materials throughout the world.
Patience is a virtue...unless you are chasing your dreams