Tones in Photography

Tones in Photography

You can use tones in your photographs to convey emotion and mood. Choose tones that are consistent with your message to tell a strong story. Watch below to find out more!

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Video Transcript

Are you looking for a way to convey mood and emotion with your images? I have an idea for you! Hi, I’m Julie from Ultimate Photo Tips, and for today’s Two Minute Photo Tip, I want to talk about using tone — how light or dark your image is — to convey mood and emotion.

We do this all the time in our spoken language. I might use words like "She was bright and cheerful, " or "I was feeling light-hearted." "Light" and "bright." In the same way, a high key image with light tones can convey happiness, an uplifting feeling, cheerful.

On the opposite side, I could say I was feeling dark and gloomy. That goes along with a low key image, with darker tones. That can convey a feeling of melancholy, a more subdued image, maybe even a sense of mystery.

Let me show you some examples of tones in photography.

Photo of bubbles illustrating creative use of light tones
© Julie Waterhouse Photography

In this first image, it’s an image of bubbles. I’ve used a light tone to convey that sense of light and airy bubbles. If I had pumped up the contrast, I could have maybe created a nice graphic, but it wouldn’t have had that sense of lightness to it.

Rural landscape photo illustrating creative use of dark tones
© Julie Waterhouse Photography

In this image, I’ve actually darkened down the sky in my post-processing to make it even more gloomy It’s clear that it’s not a place you really want to go on vacation ;-). I’ve increased that sense of loneliness and isolation.

So, make some conscious choices about the tonality of your image. When you’re shooting high key, or low key, make sure that it goes along with, and reinforces, the story that you’re trying to tell.

That’s it for this week! If you enjoyed this video about tones in photography, please spread the love, and share with with your friends! And I’ll see you next time.

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