Cinematic Photography 101

Cinematic Photography 101

Tips to Achieve Cinematic Photos
Sinematik Fotoğrafçılık

What is Cinematic Photography

The cinematic style has grown in popularity and demand in photography. Fundamentally, a cinematic image possesses a potent atmosphere, setting, and narrative, akin to a still captured from one of your beloved famous productions. Photographers may use the visual language of film to create cinematic images as photography and cinematography have a lot of similar topics and approaches.

The spectator might be drawn in by subtle elements that allude to a tale, an emotion, or a mood. It also involves giving our photos a distinct style, which may be achieved with adjustments to tone, composition, lighting, or camera settings.

Sinematik Fotoğrafçılık

Characteristics of Cinematic Photography

1. Aspect Ratio

You know a cinematic look when you see it in movies. A wider aspect ratio will make your pictures achieve this look. You can change the aspect ratio on your camera to 16:9; however, if you want a wider aspect ratio, such as 1.85:1 or 2.35:1, you will need to crop the image in post-production.

A tip to ensure that your picture will look cinematic after cropping it is using the grid view from your camera. It will allow you to adjust the shot so that all the elements you need in your photo stay after cropping the top and bottom of the picture.

It is also always a good practice to shoot your images with a wider frame than required, i.e., with extra spacing around your desired composition. This allows you to crop the image to fit your envisioned composition in post-production.

2. Exposure

In photography, the aperture controls the amount of light that enters the camera. By using f-stops, also known as focal ratio, f-ratio, or f-number, you may change the lens opening. The depth of field and exposure of your shot are determined by the aperture in your camera's lens. To take a cinematic portrait, it is important to comprehend how the aperture functions.

Related: Aperture Explained

Using larger apertures, generally between f/1.4 to f/5.6, creates a shallow depth and provides a fuzzy backdrop. This allows you to enhance the visual impact of the image and draw attention to the subject.

3. Colour

The technique of boosting and changing a photograph’s colour to provide a desired visual impression is known as "cinematic colour grading." In summary, colours elicit feelings in viewers and affect their psychology. This creative ability aids in selecting a movie's colour scheme, which in turn communicates a certain mood, vibe, and feeling.

4. Light

Cinematic lighting is a cinema lighting method that enhances the plot by adding depth, drama, and mood beyond the traditional three-point lighting configuration. Lighting techniques including bouncing light, filtering light, and altering colour temperatures are used in cinematic lighting.

5. Location

Location is a fundamental characteristic in cinematic photography, as it can significantly influence the mood, atmosphere, and storytelling of a film or photograph. This can include setting the scene, the visual aesthetics, the presence of symbols, emotional impact, and visual contrast and texture, among others.

6. Layering

Layering gives flat, two-dimensional photos the appearance of three-dimensionality. By arranging people or items on several planes and using layering to construct a narrative throughout the whole shot, you may add interest to your picture.

7. Emotion

Cinematic photographers can elicit empathy with a subject using visual signals. The cinematographer directs the audience's emotional reaction using anything from wide-angle shots that highlight the character's surroundings to close-up shots that highlight minor facial expressions.

Sinematik Fotoğrafçılık

Common Cinematic Shots & Angles

1. Extreme Long Shot

To demonstrate the scale of things in relation to their surroundings, such as little birds in a forest, the extreme long shot captures a very vast region. Usually, it serves as an establishing shot while moving from one large metropolis to another.

2. Medium Shot

A medium distance away from the subject is used to take a waist shot, also known as a medium shot (MS). In addition to being utilised for speech situations, it also shows more of the environment and body language. It will frequently frame many subjects, a section of the backdrop, and the overall area.

3. Long Shot

The long, full, or wide shot is a shot that is taken from a substantially closer distance, allowing viewers to have a better look at the action, without being too close to feel emotionally invested in it. Though still distant enough to allow for a full-body shot, they are also closer to the camera. It can be employed to provide the impression that your audience is a casual observer, like in the case of your subjects crossing the street hand in hand.

4. Low-angle Shot

A view from a camera angle low on the vertical axis, anything below the eye line, gazing up, is referred to as a low-angle shot in cinematography. It might even be right beneath the subject's feet at times. The individual appears stronger due to the low-angle shot's psychological impact.

5. Full Shot

A full shot is a kind of camera shot where the complete body of the character extends from the top to the bottom of the frame. A character is framed from head to toe in a full shot. With the use of these images, the viewer can see a character's physical attributes, activities, and emotions on their face. When utilising one or more characters, a full shot can effectively convey the background and context of the character.

6. Establishing Shot

Any single shot intended to introduce and set the elements of a scene in a movie, TV program, or other sort of video material is, by definition, an establishing shot. Basic setting details like the place, the time of day, the characters, the objects, and everything else pertinent to the actual environment are included in these aspects.

7. POV Shot

A point-of-view shot, often referred to as a first-person shot, subjective camera, or POV shot, is a brief cinematic scene that is framed as though seen through the eyes of a character (the subject).

8. Aerial Shot

A shot that is taken from a higher vantage point than what is framed in the image is called an aerial shot. Viewers can better comprehend what is happening below through aerial images, both literally and figuratively.

9. Dutch Angle

Known by several names such as "canted angle" or "oblique angle" shot, the Dutch angle shot is a very effective camera angle technique that every cinematographer should possess. A degree of roll axis rotation of the camera yields the Dutch angle. To make your camera rest unevenly on a surface, imagine placing some cardboard below one of its sides. Depending on the scene and context, the Dutch Angle is generally used to create a sense of uneasiness for the viewers.

Cinematic Photography Tips

1. Add Depth

You may give your cinematic photography more depth and richness by strategically framing your pictures. This entices viewers to interact and examine the image on several levels. Deeply felt scenes may have a highly cinematic appearance. For example, incorporating out-of-focus foreground features into your frame can serve to accentuate the depth of the image and draw the viewer in. Similar to this, depth may also be created by shooting through scenery, such as leaves or an open window. Consider situations from the perspectives of the foreground, midground, and backdrop, and then try to find a method to set each apart.

2. Shoot in RAW

In photography, the most widely used file format is JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group). It allows you to store more data on your camera by compressing digital images with no discernible loss in quality. But it limits how much processing you can perform before the quality starts to decline.

Digital Cameras, such as the Canon R System series, can capture RAW images. RAW image formats preserve more details and colours in images and have a higher dynamic range. This gives you greater flexibility to edit your images without compromising on quality and detail.

3. Use the Scenery

Pictures from movies frequently have a strong feeling of location and context. Utilising the surroundings is one approach to do this. To add features to the picture, make use of the shapes and things surrounding the topic. For example, frame to include the grass in the front if your subject is in a field. Take a shot through the window to demonstrate how cramped they feel if they are in a tiny space. Look for interesting perspectives to photograph from and think of inventive ways to incorporate the environment into your picture.

4. Separate Your Subject

Subject separation is a crucial method that is frequently used in cinematic scenes. This entails photographing or lighting your subject in a way that makes them stand out from the background. Using a wide aperture to provide a narrow depth of focus and a blurred backdrop is one easy technique to do this. The ideal prime lens is one with a wide maximum aperture, such as a 50mm f/1.4. In addition to utilising a wide aperture, you may use longer focal lengths and move your subjects further away from the backdrop to make them stand out from the background.

5. Try Backlighting

In cinematography, backlighting is frequently employed. To lighten the margins of the subject's figure, one must position a light source—such as the sun, a lamp, or a reflector—behind them. A strong, harsh light could highlight the well-defined body in a superhero movie. A soft backlight that subtly separates the subject from the background may be used in a historical drama. To bounce light into the shadow side of the subject, use a flash, reflector, or a nearby surface, such as a white wall.

6. Hint at a Story

A cinematic photo should seem like a scene from a movie and convey a story. Adding narrative can help create a mood and a hint at a story within the scene. A few ways to do this is to capture intriguing expressions of subjects, using organic props (sipping a cup of coffee, for example), or even just performing natural acts like conversing, gazing at something or crying.

7. Try Bold & High-Contrast Shots

Cinematic photos frequently have a dramatic contrast between bright and dark areas, with certain portions of the picture in shadow. Shooting from light to dark or from dark to light is one method of achieving quality high-contrast shots.

8. Use Layering (Foreground, Midground and Background)

Foreground, midground, and background components may give your photographs a three-dimensional look and enhance the depth of your cinematic photography. To bring the viewer's attention to the image and add levels of visual appeal, use leading lines or natural framing. Try varying the depth of field by either keeping the foreground and midground crisp while using a wide aperture to blur the background or the opposite for a different impact. To convey perspective and size, include people or things in the front. Additionally, think about spotlighting various components inside the frame using light and shadow to add character and depth.

9. Consider Different Angles & Height

The way people view your topic might be affected by the height and angle of the camera. This method has been employed by great filmmakers in the past and today to help them depict their characters in a certain way in movies, and the same notion holds for still photos. For example, a camera angle that looks up at the person from below might make them appear strong, but a camera angle that looks down can make them appear weak or vulnerable. Instead, taking pictures at eye level helps foster empathy for the subject. This puts the spectator on the same level as the subject, which works particularly well when taking pictures of kids.

10. Capture Movement

Cinematic photography demands an acute sense of time and composition in order to capture movement. When tracking a moving subject, use tactics like panning to keep the target crisp as the surrounding blurs. Try varying the shutter speed to create artistic motion blur or freezing. Use a variety of dynamic angles and viewpoints to capture the scene's motion and intensity. To add more movement and drama, pay attention to contrast and lighting. Finally, to produce visually striking photos that convey a sense of movement and life, don't be afraid to explore and push the limits of conventional approaches.

Related products:

Related articles