How to Process a Moody Photograph

Conveying mood in a photograph sometimes requires a little extra care in your processing technique. I took this shot in Tinkers Creek State Park in Ohio on a foggy morning. To preserve the moody atmosphere, I processed a single RAW image twice – then combined these two versions of the same image using Photoshop Layers & Masks.

Low Contrast Processing

Fog and humidity in the air reduce the contrast of objects that are farther away, so my first step was to process the RAW file with low contrast. The image you see above shows the result. The foggy atmosphere in the trees and highlights is preserved, but the grass in the foreground and the wooden boardwalk look dull and unappealing.

High Contrast Processing

Next, I used the same RAW file and processed the image with higher contrast settings. The image above shows that these adjustments produced good details in the foreground – but the appearance of the fog in the tree was all but lost. As a final step, I selectively combined the low-contrast and high-contrast images using layers and masks in Photoshop. I retain good details in the foreground, while also preserving the foggy, low-contrast mood in the trees and the highlights.

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.
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