Our Photography is driven by many different feelings, one of the important ones being Mood. And I don’t just mean the mood inherent in the subject before us: the play of light, the atmosphere. Primarily today I’m talking about the mood we wish to create in processing: how we want the viewer to perceive the subject we have chosen to photograph. The emotions we wish to evoke.

The images today were taken early this year round the back of the Theatre complex in Milton Keynes. I had a spare half hour while my wife shopped. The architecture in that area adjacent to a multi-storey car park has an industrial feel to it – plenty of geometry to tempt my eye.

IMG_5435This first image is what one might call a Pictorial approach to a documentary picture. Now, I realise that is a contradictory statement. What I’m trying to say is that what this image attempts is a ‘pleasing’ rendition of this scene. I’ve used the colour that was inherent in the image to draw attention to, and contrast, the angular patterned grille and the oval backside of a light. It’s an image to which I would expect a fairly lukewarm response. It’s OK. It’s about the attractive relationships of the objects. Nothing more, really.

A minute earlier I shot this.

IMG_5433_ColThis is an image that I have worked on, in processing, to add contrast, grain and grittyness. It’s almost monochromatic. The colour in the light has gone – not because I’ve removed it, the angle of view was responsible for draining colour from it The mood of this is quite different. It’s industrial, harsh, gritty, cold. Blue can be a very cold colour. It’s no longer ‘pleasing’ in the normal understanding of the word. Do you feel an air of menace? Is there a sinister feel to it, perhaps?  But if you like contrast and line you may actually have a more positive approach to this image. It tells a story. It creates a mood. It asks questions. You might be wondering what happens beyond that grille.

The final image, below, is a re-working of the second image. I’ve converted it to B&W and raised the contrast further. It is now purely an image about tone and geometry. I took a long hard look and wondered about flipping the image. I liked the idea of the light providing a natural ‘stop’ to the image. But is the menace still there in the B&W version? Is it as cold in feel as the first version? Does it evoke the same emotional response? Do you prefer the ‘flipped’ version?

IMG_5433_1What do you think? Do post a comment and let me know which you prefer and why.


About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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20 Responses to Interpretations

  1. Meanderer says:

    The first image doesn’t feel too industrial and bleak to me – something to do with the netting which reminds me of gingham material – softening the industrial harshness. The brown areas also make it look softer and more homely.

    The second image continues this feeling for me but now it looks a little more modern – and again the ‘gingham’ with its blue tones softens the image. I don’t get a sense of bleakness from it.

    The third image, however, does strike me as bleak and forbidding. I wouldn’t want to hang around it too long. The monochrome treatment takes away the homely blue-toned ‘gingham’ leaving a strong industrial feeling. The stark spotlight adds to the feeling of bleakness and discomfort.

    Well done for conveying so many different meanings in one scene!

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for those thoughtful observations, Meanderer. The netting is actually metal mesh or a grille. Depends on what you like you call it. We all see different things in an image and it’s interesting that your thinking was that this was something softer than it actually is.

  2. Len says:

    Excellent post Andy. Mood has so much to do with the final product. First when we shoot an image, our mood and the subject is conveyed through the light and composition. In my view, the real impact is when we edit the image. In my case, my mood impacts what treatment is applied to the photo. With today’s software, we can create the mood we want. A truly creative mood results in experimentation like you have shown here.

  3. oneowner says:

    I like all three images but my favorite is the second. The desaturated color gives it a slightly more abstract look, more geometric. You’re right about the third image being the most menacing.

    • LensScaper says:

      Interestingly there are, so far, more people preferring the second image over the other two. But no-one has yet said anything about the image being flipped as in the third image

  4. I like the second image the best – the blue tones and the grittiness make it the most appealing to my eye.

    (Also – I didn’t think about the “gingham” look, until Meanderer mentioned it, but now I can’t NOT see it!)

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Melinda. It’s definitely not Gingham. It’s industrial style steel mesh. Would you, ideally, like to see the second image flipped as the third one has been?

      • Interesting question, Andy. And, honestly, I can’t think of a reason to prefer one orientation over the other. Do you supposed left- or right-handedness has anything to do with a preference one way or the other?

        • LensScaper says:

          I think it’s just about the way you read a composition. And one school of thought is that it can help to have a strong focus of interest toward the right edge, because we tend to read images left to right. That circular light visually acts as a ‘full stop’ and stops your eye drifting out of the image. But does the grille/mesh hold the eye in just as well?

          • I suppose that our reading from left to right influences our preference (if we know it or not) for a strong focus of interest on the right side?

            The circular light did catch my eye in both images, though probably I did stop slightly longer (very slightly) at the light in the flipped version. But I think that’s because I looked at it, then looked at the earlier image, then back again. But, still, I can’t decide on a favorite.

            I asked about handedness because I am ambidextrous, and wondered if that might even things out, leaving my unable to determine a favorite.

  5. mark says:

    I like the third. The BW high contrast emphasizes the geometric abstraction. I also prefer that it is flipped although I’m not sure why. Maybe because the more interesting element is on the left where my eye starts.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for that comment Mark. As you may have read from my replies to other comments, I think the presence of that circular light close to the right edge in the flipped image functions as an end point or full-stop that arrests the eye.

  6. Chillbrook says:

    An interesting analysis Andy. My compositional preference has tended to be subject on the right of the picture when I can manage that. Certainly almost always for macro.. Like Melinda, its not been so much a conscious thing, just felt right somehow and your third image demonstrates this perfectly!

  7. poppytump says:

    The last image does feel more *menacing to me Andy .. almost metamorphic patterns bottom to top indistinct to stark … and with the light looking deceptively like a mirror surrounded by blackness I’m almost expecting a reflection …. of something … unsettling ..
    So for me the last image has a definite mood !

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