How I achieve this moody look in my forest photos

Outdoor photography isn't easy. There are many factors that make this style really challenging, but today I'm going to concentrate on just one: Mood. I often read comments on my photos that say something like "Oh I love the mood in your photos", but what does this really mean?

I'm very specific about the kind of photos that I like to take and make. I have already mentioned in other blog posts, that I like to go out when it's dark, cloudy and foggy. There is something about that eerie and mysterious look that I'm really attracted to. I feel that the sense of adventure is greater in those conditions. I don't know really know, maybe it's because of the place where I live (Basque Country), where rain and clouds are a constant in our lives and I'm just comfortable shooting in the rain. I guess that somehow, having grown up in an environment like ours, has played an important role in the style of photographs that I enjoy shooting, and I'm very grateful for that. 

I always carry a small camera with me and this helps a lot, because whenever the conditions are right (for the kind of photos I like to take) I always have a tool available in my car. I'm lucky to live surrounded by beautiful forests and mountains, so in less than a thirty minute drive, I have all these locations that you see in the photos below, for myself. I'm usually the only one out there, probably because people don't find rainy weather exciting to go out and shoot, so it's always a pleasure to wander around these places in silence. 

Other important factors of my photographs are how I expose and edit. I like dark shadows and vibrant colors. How do I achieve that? By under exposing while I'm taking the photos and playing with the curve tones and the different sliders of colors in Lightroom. Many people have told me that I under expose a bit too much in camera (sometimes even a couple of stops), and then during post processing I open up the shadows quite a lot. For many photographers, this may sound a bit contradictory, because they prefer to get the correct exposure when they are out in the field. However, I find editing as important as the actual process of taking the photo, so I've put in a lot of hours to develop an editing style that I really like and that works for my photos. 

Over the years I've created a bunch of presets, and most of the photos you see here are based on a couple of those. Once I apply the preset, the next step is to adapt the sliders to each photo. The same happens with the new Forged presets that I use and were created by Tribe Red Leaf Studios. Their colors are incredible, but when you buy presets from others, you need to adapt them to your own work, because the light, atmosphere, textures and subjects are different in each session. Even if I put my presets up for sale, you probably wouldn't be able to get the same tones as I do, unless you also exposed and took the photos in the same kind of light and conditions that I work in. 

There are some repetitive factors on my photos, the locations I shoot, the conditions in which I photograph, the way I expose in camera and the kind of presets I apply in editing. I know that that's what differentiates my work from yours, and I really believe that each of us should have our own techniques and should work to find a unique look. This is not easy, because we are constantly flooded by the same kind of photos, in the same kind of places and with similar styles... But at least, we should try to overcome this and create something different and one of a kind.

It's important to know how the weather conditions affect the way a place looks, therefore, I always recommend to go back to the same place and shoot over and over in order to learn when it's best to choose one location or another. Yes, sometimes I'm lucky and I'm rewarded by these beautiful scenes even when I wasn't planning on it, but a lot of the times I just head back home with an empty card. And that is still fine, because the little walk in the forest is always perfect to clear your mind and to connect with nature.

So, tell me, what do you like to photograph and what are your favorite conditions to photograph in? Let me know, I'd love to hear!