The Quest For Mood & Atmosphere

We all have our oddities and I was blessed with an extra helping of them.

One of the things I write about on this blog is mood & atmosphere. I can “see” mood and atmosphere. I see it in photos and I hear it in music. I read it in words.

Every day and every time of day has an atmosphere to it. At least for me it does. Every season. Of course, most of you know that I live for the mood that develops at the beginning and the end of daylight. Not just the beautiful colors, but how they effect objects both natural and manufactured. . The “tones” that develop. Sometimes the sounds of a city getting out of bed to begin the day is moody, or wildlife beginning to stir in the country. Maybe settling down at sunset. I love the middle of the night when absolute quiet takes over.

Every winter for the past twenty years or so, in the middle of the night in winter there are mating calls from Great-horned Owls apparently in a nearby tree. I listen to them while I am in bed. Now that’s atmosphere!

Music. I have done entire posts on music. Several of them. In addition to the instrumentation, the voice, and the words, there is often a mood that belongs unuiqley to that song.

Words in song lyrics, poetry (yes I love “some” poetry), novels, speeches, movies and TV, do more than convey what happens literally or what might happen. They can develop a mood or atmosphere. They sometimes create a “feeling” above and beyond the obvious. The tone, the cadence, the inflection. Of course, sometimes the subject in and of itself. Scenes that are lush and rich, but also those that are stark and plain, create moods.

I do love old movies and TV shows. Especially old movies. They often carry within them a poetic feel that is missing in newer movies. The dialog often rules in these movies although the music can add to the art.

I love old crime dramas. Noir if you will. Often corny, but sometimes not, their means of communicating and using the language is to me, a form of art in and of itself.

Old westerns are similar. Plus, they’ve got horses and western scenery. Oft times, low budget old western movies and some old TV westerns are shot entirely on sound stages that are fixed up to look (often badly) like the outdoors. To me, even that can be a form of art. What kind of mood and atmosphere (there I go again) can be created on a set like that? Is it stirring, or corny? Either way, a mood is created.

Sometimes, not always, when I was out creating images, the point of my search, was to find what kind of mood and/or atmosphere existed and capture it in pictures? It was there, I just needed to make a photograph that conveyed it to others.

Of course, other times I just wanted a sharp, properly exposed image of something interesting or pretty. Its okay to do either or both.

To me; life can at times be boring. I should not let that happen but I do. When, no matter the time of day and no matter where you are and what you are doing, you can be mesmerized or at least entertained by the mood and atmosphere you are surrounded by, the day will become more interesting.

Only the first two of the images below were selected because they are moody or atmospheric. With that having been said, almost all photos, at least those made with purpose, carry with them a mood or atmosphere of some sort. To some degree. Those first two which are guest images, most certainly carry that benefit.

The dreamy autumn scene below is dripping with atmosphere. I can feel it. I believe it was shot somewhere in Europe. It was created by Lurie Belegurschi. Great work!!

I do not often think of wildlife imagery as being moody, or atmospheric. They can however be moody at times and they can most definitely be powerfully atmospheric.

Denise Ippolito captured this image of two Red Cranes performing a winter courtship dance. Their performance of the dance, and the steam coming from their breath, makes this image atmospheric and dripping with mood.

I say with absolute honesty, that the entire selection except one of my own very old images below, was selected long before I began writing today’s post about my “moodiness” if you will. Still, photos can have moods and within any body of work, there will be moods to be found.

Sunrise/sunset images always have some mood, which is derived from the colorful atmosphere plus the compositional choices that were made.

Often sunrise pictures carry with them a “ new dawn, a new day” feeling to them, that inspire us to be grateful and happy to see the new light.

Sometimes the feeling or mood is dreamy.

Fog in and of itself has mood and a great atmosphere. Fog at the edge of light, when that light is red or gold, and has dreamy clouds and silhouettes of trees and grasses, becomes a delight of mood and atmosphere.

Of course, sunrise and sunset in and of itself carries with it some nice moods. When the rays illuminate some beautiful sandstone rock on the shores of Lake Michigan at the very least there will be a feeling of gratitude for the day ahead.

The location below is called Cave Point and it resides at the shores of lake Michigan in Door County, Wisconsin. Whether I was alone or with a friend, and whether I was teaching a workshop or making images for myself, I always began my day in that county at this location.

Fog, without the colors of sunrise, can create an atmosphere even more powerful than the “high color” type.

Sometimes the “new day’ phenomenon carries over beyond sunrise photography. These wild Indian Blanket (I believe) flowers were illuminated by the morning sun, although well after its rising,. Almost like the sun chose this subject for the spotlight to make a statement.

If the new sun provides a specific atmosphere and feeling to a subject, soft, gentile overcast light brings with if not a somber mood, a peaceful, colorful feeling.

Abstractions, often carry with them yet another sort of mood. This is a pond. I believe, although I could be wrong, that I might have been searching for individual close-up images of flowers when I came across this “darkish” pond. I moved around until it became a total abstraction of reality. Whether there be a mood or not in this scene, is I suppose debatable. I only know that I found a certain quality that I liked and now that moment will live on.

Let us finish today’s imagery with some more randomly selected images without thoughts of mood or atmosphere. Water, flowers, animals. Everything in nature is a valid subject for a nature photographer.

One of the moodiest and most thought provoking symbols of modern times, “Old Glory”. Photographer unknown.

Closeup of grunge American flag

Finally, some mood provoking words.

The Raven
Edgar Allan Poe – 1809-1849

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door—
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—Only this and nothing more.”

Finally, from the most powerful book ever written, the Bible.

Revelation 19:11,12,13

And I saw Heaven opened and behold a white horse, He who sat upon him was called Faithful and True and in righteousness He does judge and make war.

His eyes were of a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns, and He had a name written that no man knew but He Himself

And He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood, and His name was called the Word of God

The Word as you see it above, is Jesus Christ

God Bless,

Next post I will deal with some architectural subjects, both new and old.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s