Brett Eldridge

Creating a Moody Landscape Photo

April 25, 2018
Photography, Moody, Lightroom, Landscape, How To, Tips

How I Created This Moody Shot With Lightroom

I have been taking landscape photos for a while, but only recently decided to add mood to them. Here is how I created this moody landscape photo with Lightroom.
Lightroom Moody Photo Conversion

Get a Little Mood in Camera First

The obvious first step is to capture a great photo, and make sure you capture it in RAW format so you can bring out detail later. In this photo, because I was going for a moody look, I used a long exposure of 30 seconds to smooth out the water, and wash over the rocks. I didn't need an ND Filter because it was prior to sunrise.

Lightroom Editing

Here is a screenshot of my Lightroom settings. I will talk about each setting section below.
Moody Landscape Photo Lightroom Settings

Basic Settings

My exposure was a little low in my raw file. So I lifted it. Added a good amount of contrast to start removing the grey areas. Drop the highlights a little, and raised up the shadows. Then lifted the white point and lowered the blacks until there was a little white and black showing (Hold ALT in Windows). I really wanted to add contrast to this image, so I pushed the clarity quite high. This looks bad in a lot of photos, but, it worked really well in this image. And lastly, I dropped the overall saturation quite a lot.

HSL & Color Settings

Orange and aqua were my colors of choice for this photo, and are used often in 'Cinematic' and dramatic shots. So I reduced the saturation of most colors, and increased the saturation of the orange and aqua. I still had a little yellow and blue, but instead of removing them, I made them a little darker with luminance.

Split Toning

I used split toning just a fraction to bring in a little more aqua to the image, especially in the highlights.

Detail Settings

I added some sharpening with a mask to bring out some details in the rocks, and I added a little luminance to counter my initially low exposure and the grain it produced. I had a tiny amount of grain where i bought up the shadows, the luminance helped with this.

Lens Correction

I always make these adjustments to all photos unless it is a specific fisheye or I want to keep a warped perspective. For this photo, I was using the 20mm lens, and it has a noticeable warp, so I remove that easily with 'Profile Correction'. I also remove 'Chromatic Aberration' which is a color separation issue you can get around objects with contrast.

Effects

Just the smallest amount of Post-Crop Vignetting to bring the attention to the middle of the photo.

Final Photo

Here is the final photo. I found that the biggest changes to get a moody effect is to add lots of contrast, and make the photo quite dark overall. I also removed a lot of conflicting and messy colors. These are just my tips, each photo will be different, and all photographers do things a little different. I just wanted to share how I do my moody landscape photos.
Pallarenda Beach Moody Landscape Photo

Location

Pallarenda Beach near Townsville, Queensland, Australia.
See Also: 10 Must Haves for Landscape Photographers