the art of making motion pictures.
Cinematography is the language of film.
It spells out to the viewer the story that is being told. It has syntax that everyone understands without necessarily knowing the definitions. It is a very deliberate act of showing in the frame what is important. There are rules and the rules can be broken, but even then the language is still understood.
Cinematography is utilizing the tools that speak this language: Wide shots, close ups, high angles, low angles, dutch angles, point of view, panning, dollying, zooming. A high angle looks down upon a subject. A character shot with a high angle will look vulnerable or small. A subject shot with from a low angle will look more powerful or menacing. A dutch angle (angle skewed to the left or right) can be disorienting and add anxiety to the shot. A simple close up shot of hand can relay emotion of the subject.
A cinematographer is someone who is skilled in this language and knows how to use these tools to tell the story. A cinematographer is fluent in composition of the frame, what to include and not include in the frame, the rule of thirds.
Light is the most misunderstood, sometimes overlooked and the most important aspect of cinematography. Knowing how to light and what to light can make or break a shot. Key. backlight, diffusion, blocking, fill, negative fill, spot are all assets in a cinematographers lighting toolbox.
Here are some places to visit to find out more information on Cinematography:
If you can find a copy of this on DVD it is a must have.
Visions OF Light – The Art Of Cinematography