Top Essentials for Shooting Dark and Moody Photography

Every photographer has their unique shooting style, and if you're at the creative end of the spectrum, you might be into shooting dark and moody photography, which has a certain artistic flair. You can enhance shadows and reduce highlights during postproduction. It is better to get the image while shooting by using the right equipment to manage lighting while introducing darker elements. Take a look at our top essentials for shooting dark and moody photography. 


Backgrounds can be used to set the tone of the set and enhance the subject by providing contrast, but they can also be used to allow the subject to blend into the shadows for dark shots. The PIXAPRO Hand-Painted Background in Neutral Grey it's a great option to introduce some texture and uniqueness in different shots. The grey colour adds a dramatic flair to the setup as it sets a darker tone for the image.

There are also pitch-black options available if you're looking for a background that will reduce the spill of life, prevent light from bouncing off the backdrop, and highlight the subjects from different angles. The PIXAPRO Black 1.35m x 10m Seamless Paper Background is an ideal option as it is made of thick paper, which makes it resistant to quite a bit of wear and tear. It is also easy to roll up, store, and carry to different locations so you can bring the drama to any set you shoot at. 


2 X 3m Hand-Painted Canvas Backdrop (Neutral Grey) and 1.35m X 10m Seamless Paper Basic Background Kit


Props can bring life to any set by adding dimension and for creating moody photographs, as they can be used to bring in some angles and cast shadows for additional depth. The PIXAPRO 3D Block Prop set includes a range of handmade medium-density fibreboard blocks in different shapes that can be used to create an elaborate set to showcase the subject. The various cylinders and cuboids can even be painted to mimic the mood you wish to achieve, including dark colours such as black to enhance the moodiness of the shot by absorbing the light, specifically if it has a matte black finish to prevent light from bouncing off the props.

Another interesting prop idea involves using the PIXAPRO ShadowCasters, which are 40x40cm wooden gobos shaped like a cut-out stencil that can be placed between any light source to produce unique patterns of light using shadow effects that can add an interesting visual effect to your subject. These shadow casters are used in cinematography to create the illusion of light streaming through windows with decorative bars and natural elements such as trees. For achieving the best results, it is recommended to use a sharp and bright light source such as flashes or speedlights without using any light modifiers or diffusers to achieve well-defined shadows. The great thing about using these shadow casters is that they can be used to produce multiple shadow effects depending on the distance from the light source to enhance the moodiness of the shot.     


Mix Set 3D Block Prop- Goshoot Product Photography and ShadowCaster Wooden Gobos


For capturing dark and moody photography, you will need a light source that can be adjusted for brightness. The budget range  PIXAPRO LED200BMKIII is a compact light that is bi-colour balanced, and it has a maximum light output of 16,000 lux @ 1m due to the latest high-intensity integrated LED technology. It also has a colour rendering index rating of greater than 95, which ensures accurate colour reproduction making it excellent for videography and still photography. The best part of this light is that it comes with an easy-to-use dimmer dial that can be used to decrease the light intensity from 100% to 10% to create darker and moodier shots without flickering during the shoot. 

LED200B MKIII Pro Bi-Colour LED Studio Light

Beauty Dish

Modifiers are the key to adding depth and creating moody images. The PIXAPRO 100cm silver interior beauty dish can transform any light into a soft and gentle stream that provides more contrast than softboxes. Beauty dishes are primarily used for beauty and fashion shots as they can be used to add some drama by accentuating facial features. The dish comes with a highly reflective silver interior that reflects the light to evenly disperse and surround the subject to ensure you get the right shadows in the right places. The reflective surface provides a more contrasting light that creates a profound deviation between highlights and shadows for a unique effect. This beauty dish also comes with two diffusers and a honeycomb grid which help to focus delight onto the subject and reduce unwanted lights fill for a more defined image.

100cm (39.3") Collapsible Portable Silver Beauty Dish S-Type


PIXAPRO 150x200cm moveable scrim combined with the Black and Silver fabric is ideal for controlling lighting intensity. It is commonly used in the film and television industry to diffuse harsh lighting effectively. This scrim can be used for both natural and artificial lighting as it comes with a 2-stop diffusion material that softens lighting for a don't down effect. The black fabric is excellent for negative fill as it absorbs light and prevents any reflective light due to the matte material. It is ideal for increasing contrast, especially when shooting dramatic images. Additionally, the scrim is placed on a movable frame with lockable wheels for portability, and it is easy to set up as the durable aluminium frame can be assembled quickly and even adjusted for height for different photography setups.


PIXAPRO 150x200cm moveable scrim and Black and Silver fabric


Dark and moody images can also be created by using gel sheets in front of your primary lighting source. The PIXAPRO Creative Colour Gel Pack is a great option as it comes with 11 individual 30 x 30 cm gel sheets in colours ranging from pink to black so you can achieve unique lighting effects. These sheets can also be cut down before they are attached using double clips or even tape to the light source, which should be either a strobe light or LED panels for best results. The different colours can change the tone of your photography by adding a vintage or moody feel to the shots.

30x30cm Creative Colour Gel Pack

Optical snoot

The PIXAPRO Optical Snoot spot Projector can also be used to add moody accents to any photo shoot. It comes with a detachable 85mm lens for focus control, built-in shutter blades to control the shape of the light, and a selection of 12 gobos to produce different shapes and patterns on the subject and background. The projector also comes with a Canon EF lens mount and it can produce projections of different dimensions depending on the type of lens used.  

Gobo Set C For PiXAPRO Optical Snoot Spot Projectors


For creating dark and moody photographs, setting the scene is extremely important as well as managing lighting which can be done through multiple modifiers. Different visual effects can also be integrated by using shadows and shapes to produce a more creative photograph that is still in line with the overall theme.