Expressive images often convey meaning by projecting a mood or atmosphere that strike a particular emotional tone. Mood and atmosphere can also create a context that helps us tell an expressive story about our subjects. Atmosphere and mood is also conveyed through composition, lighting and color. When we choose to abstract an image by showing less and saying more, we can usually create a communicative atmosphere and mood as well. I use three different approaches in each of the following three examples to stir the emotions of my viewers through the use of both atmosphere and mood.
Shopkeeper, Essaouira, Morocco
It was just past dawn in this ancient port city, and its shopkeepers are beginning their day. I used my spot meter to expose for the bright flow of light on the street, an illuminated path of cobblestones running between the morning shadows and the darkened shops. A shopkeeper steps into that path to sweep the walk in front of his shop’s entrance. Given this dramatic lighting, all attention is placed on the man with the broom. An atmosphere of quiet privacy greets him. The shadowy passersby do not even see him, just as we can barely see them. The sepia tone brings a dimension of age to the scene. By using contrasting light and shadow, I abstract the image and create both atmosphere and mood to trigger an emotional response.
In a cloud of dust, Tan Chau, Vietnam
They came at me out of the golden haze of rising dust—a steady flow of roaring bikes. It is rush hour on the dirt roads of Tan Chau. The helmeted and masked cyclists could see as little as I could. It was a wonder that when the dust finally settled, no accident marred the scene....
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