How to Use Adobe Photoshop and Color Theory To Set the Mood of Your Images

Few changes can as dramatically affect the feel of an image as those to color. One moment a straight-faced person is content in a golden glow, the next that same expression tells a different story when the tones are set to blue.

There aren't many elements of photography to be passionate about, though two that rule almost all else are light and color. There are striking similarities between the two, insofar as how they can set scenes and set the mood of a captured moment's story, but they're also intrinsically linked. A high-key image will seldom make sense if it's blue in tone, and conversely, low-key images with warm tones suffer a similar problem. That isn't to say there aren't plenty of real instances in which it's dingy and orange or bright and blue, but color theory and T.V and film's use of it dictate a certain way of looking at scenes, among others.

When you stray from the extremities of exposure, as most photographs, videos, and films usually do, you have tremendous control over how the scene is perceived, just from color theory. But that only speaks of the mood, and doesn't touch on just how much creative control colors in an image give us as photographers. Altering colors of your images can turn the bland to memorable and the nice to beautiful. Forgettable sunsets can be transformed into stunning with as little as a well-chosen gradient.

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4 Comments

Robert Peterson's picture

The video demonstrates some interesting ideas using Photoshop, not, as the title suggests, Lightroom. I would think the article references the wrong video but searching YouTube for the title retrieves the same Photoshop focused video.

Greg Wilson's picture

You're linking to a wrong video... 🤦‍♂️

Marcel Rapuano's picture

The video is about Color Grading in Photoshop using Gradient Maps and Color Fills, not Lightroom like mentioned in the title. Like Robert mentioned (not the author but the first comment), in Youtube there is a video, which is the same as above that has the same title, which goes to show that either we have 2 videos with the same name and different subjects, or the author haven't seen the video at all before posting.