Cinematography Masterclass, Light and Shadow
Cinematography is the science or art of motion picture photography by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as film stock.
That sounds geeky. If that’s what is the definition of cinematography then all engineers could have been good in cinematography as they are good with definitions. Go to any film school around the world to learn cinematography and if they throw such definition towards you then don’t be surprised.( I am telling you because I am also from a film school.) But is that the real definition of cinematography? In fact there no definition for cinematography.
Go to the world’s best cinematographers like Roberto Schaefer, Steven Fierberg, Conrad Hall, Robert Primes,…. and ask them who is the cinematographer and you will get something different from above definition.They will answer something like
…who creates wonderful images,that are provocative, that are new, that are fresh, telling a story like never told before….the eyes of the director,.. someone who visualizes the written words,… someone who makes director’s dream come alive and get it on the screen,… a visual story teller who speaks through light and shadow. Cinematographer is a person who is touching a human being without the person realizing that.
Which one is better? No doubt the second one because its not from any film book but from the experience of thousands of hours of work by the masters. You must watch following video where world’s best cinematographers are telliing you what exactly you wanna know and I bet you that you won’t find it in any film school around the world.
Isn’t that wonderful? So after all cinematography is not about the camera angles and camera movements or flat lighting, its definitely more of a light and shadow combination, its more about your framing. In my previous post I discussed about Ida (2014) which was nominated for Oscars in the cinematography category, has 90% static shots but killer composition and lighting.
So What Is Lighting In Cinematography?
Light is a particle and wave at the same time which is used to create shadows… light is that enters the lens and strikes the chip or the emotion, cinematographers biggest enemy as well as the best friend as it works against you as well as for you,… its like a paint to an artist,.. Light is a form of expression, form of story telling.. light is pretty much life… its an invisible force.
And most important thing…. I see lots of discussions on internet about which camera they use and which lenses they use. Many guys have bought the different cameras and they discuss this camera crap whole day. Camera is for shooting and not for discussing on internet. I bought a professional DSLR thinking I will do street photography and I never clicked a shot of street photography. That doesn’t make me a photographer just because I have a great camera. Stop obsessing over cameras and start shooting. Come on guys its just a machine and it is meant to be operated by a human. We don’t call cameras cinematographers, we call humans associated with it.
Here is a small story you might like.
A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door, the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’
The photographer said nothing until dinner was finished, then he said to the host:
‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific Stove.
As Victor J. Kemper said in the end of the video
Think for one moment nobody gives a damn what camera you use as long as you have that drive that passion and talent,… you know how to use the tool(camera) you can shoot a damn good movie.
Here is a short film shot on Phone 4S which you might like.
So if you are interested in cinematography, pickup your camera and start shooting.