Welcome to a new year...2019 where has the time gone? This week we are going to explore MY signature style - Dark & Moody. My first love with Still Life and to be honest…it still is. It is what I am known for and I usually end up teaching in my Workshops, as it is requested so often.
So, let's get a little Dark & Moody...
The essence of Dark & Moody is the details, but the deep shadows and saturated colour. More often than not I tend to add a pop of red or chocolate browns, but blues and yellows work well too. Consider your backdrops, your props and accessories… Dark, matte, and textures will enhance the moody feel, consider dark wood furniture or painted canvas for a backdrop. I personally love a good rustic timber crate.
Choose the main subject (or Hero) that’s perhaps lighter in colour or tone or even slightly reflective…. something that can stand out amongst the dark, or perhaps try a pop of colour?
Think raw, rustic, weathered, worn, organic, dramatic when styling your scene, it does not have to be country or rustic, it could be clean and modern too.
Light is always important. I like to use a single side light source and block/absorb the light around the scene using black light blocker or dark fabric. Matte, organic textiles also absorb the light and enhance the shadows. Experiment with this. I think the magic happens when your subject seems to stand out from the background. You might find placing your set up just on the edge of the sidelight works really well. Experiment.
TIP: If shooting with a DSLR try spot metering, as with the White on White, your camera will do the exact opposite and try and make everything lighter. So this time you may need to Underexpose your images to get the desired result, possibly not as much, try 1 or 2 stops underexposed, but not too much.
TIP: This is where shooting in RAW rather than .JPEG, is preferable, as this allows room to rescue any areas that may be over or underexposed in Lightroom or Photoshop (or similar).
Experiment in post-processing. Enhancing and deepening the shadows and reducing highlights. Play with saturation and vibrancy. Add contrast, make your shadows deep and any colour pop!
As well as using a dark backdrop, experiment with crates, baskets, open cupboards, the corner of a window in deep shade…place an interesting subject in your ‘space’…..and make a little dark and moody magic. If you are feeling overwhelmed and this one can be tricky to get right, start simple, it is better to get a feel for this subject than overwhelm the subject matter. One single flower, or cupcake, or strawberry (or apple) is better to start with, and can often be VERY effective.
TIP: Using fruit? Try using a spray bottle of water and little spray the fruit, perks it up, makes it look fresh and inviting and the drips can be interesting focal points. Or try a can of soft drink or bottle of beer (or cider)…spray and let the water drip down the sides, make it look icy and cold. If it is icy cold in the fridge and you photograph it on a warm day you will naturally get condensation down the sides - FABULOUS!!
Don’t forget to share and hashtag #MySundayStills #Dark&Moody
~ Julz, xo
P.S. Here are some other dark and moody images for some inspiration…(if you click on the image you can see it full frame)