In this lab we looked at cinematography and framing (composition) what it is and how it is used. This weeks blog displays what i gathered from the lecture. This lab was done in order for us to understand the concept of cinematography and what is involved in it.

Cinematography is the art of motion pictures, in which photography and camera work coalesce together to produce motion picture. Cinematography can influence the audiences attention to focus at a specific part of the screen through the use of selective seeing that leads to the audience to use selective perception subconsciously and behave in certain way that was intended by the director; in order to convey the message, story and emotions of the screenplay and characters clearly through manipulation of camera lens, composition and lighting.

Example of a motion picture (Citizen Kane [1941]), setting a feel of a scene from a movie clip that uses composition and lighting.

Composition is vital in any work. from photography, to film production. This is due to how we perceive objects automatically; without composition there’s a certain structure, a certain feel that is lost when a piece of work is reviewed.

So what is Composition? – composition is the arrangement of visual elements in a work of art, in order to produce an effective way of viewing images. The composition aids to direct the viewer’s attention to certain parts of the work, that may be of great importance without it being explicitly written down.

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“visually, there’s a language far more complex than words”- visions of light (1992)


An example of this technique is shown in the film Rosemary Baby (1968), the director has used composition to frame a certain scene in which the actors face is hidden during a phone call, causing an unconscious body movement from the audience in order to try to see her face. This was an example that was used in the film “Visions of light”.

Scene from rosemary baby, in which composition plays a key role.

With the aid of lighting, composition intensifies the image of a film being viewed, as we respond to light subconsciously. Lighting allows the cinematographer to communicate an emotion or an idea clearly without the requirement of a dialogue. This demonstrates the importance of light in cinematography as it can tell the story just by how the director uses different lighting techniques on certain scenes. However, this can only happen if the actor or even an object and camera work together in harmony, especially in film production if they wish produce a production that is of a good quality.

“our perception is guided if not dictated by the event context when imposed”- Herbert Zettl (Sight Sound Motion)

With lighting the consideration of colour temperature (which is measured in kelvin) is of great importance as it gives a feel of the time it was captured. It sells the mood and the effect according to the script. Lighting constructs different moods, which was highly used when the existence of colour was of unknown in the film industries, this was a prominent feature of FILM NOIR which had a way, a spark of telling a story through visual vocabulary, that was developed through the use of highly contrasted lighting, composition and lens/camera angle shot; whilst also adding simplicity to them.

Film Noir was a very experimental genre, which sketched with darkness. As sound (capturing dialogue) wasn’t available during that time period, lighting revealed the characters behaviour. Dialogue wasn’t seen of great importance, as the music did most of the talking with the use of light. Cinematography is highly praised, sometimes cinematography and composition is purely accidental however this can produce outstanding scenes such as this scene from the Godfather (1972).

This scene from the Godfather allows Marlon Brandos character to stay mysterious by hiding his eyes.



In terms of PHOTOGRAPHY, rules are imposed in order to produced intriguing pictures using composition. such rules include

  • Rule of thirds (states that we are drawn to where the lines intersect always! similar to the Fibonacci spiral.)

But what do you mean by we are drawn to the lines that intersect you may ask? Well the rule of thirds is a rule that came about in 1797 by John Thomas Smith, in a which he wrote book called ‘Remarks on Rural Scenery’ in which he expands work from a Sir Joshua Reynolds about the balance of dark and lighting in a paintings, in which he formed what is now know as the rule of thirds or the rule of thumbs. This rule is a guideline or a process that composes visual images from films, paintings to photography in orderly format, that is divided into 9 equal parts by equally spaced out horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Where the line intersect is the pin point where each subject in picture of scene from a frame should be located. This layout aids to keeping the image tidy, and also more interesting an example using the rule of third below.

Rule of third taking place in this image, in which the image has been split into 9 evenly squares in order to make the image interesting.
  • Fibonacci spiral (also known as the golden spiral or the golden mean) is a set law that uses mathematical sequence of numbers which was made famous by Leonardo Fibonacci around the 1200 A.D (yep composition was vital during that period too!) this idea came about due to  Fibonacci when he noticed that there’s a ratio throughout nature, a sort of design that we are instantly drawn to without any explanation, a sort of magnet that attract us. The Fibonacci spiral those this without leading the eyes, but fulfils its purpose.
image from google
image that uses the Fibonacci spiral that draw the viewers attention to the important part
These rules aid to produce a layout that differentiate different objects in a certain way that captures the viewer’s attention. With these rules, the lens helps to capture the story of the image. The use of different types of lens produce different lighting results based on the exposure of the lens, this can create spectacular images that draw the focus of the audience. Effective composition helps to focus the attention on what the photographer, or director wants you to convey.


Cinematography as been used throughout the film industry in order for the film to be effective such much films that uses this are:

  • Atonement (2007)

This movie was one of my favourite movie of all times and was not surprised when I found out it  was nominated for the 2008 Academy award for best cinematography, especially after learning what cinematography. This movie defiantly ticked the box; This film makes use of cinematography in order to tell a story about two couples that are torn apart due to a lie made by the Cecilia (Keira Knightly) younger sister Briony (Saoirse Ronan). The film uses composition and lighting to capture different numerous scenes in the right essence throughout and to draw the viewers attention to the characters, the environment and issues they faced due to this little white lie.

From the front cover of the movie to the actual movie itself, such use of composition and lightening added to the film to becoming more intriguing as the cinematographer (Seamus McGarvey) directed the viewers to parts vital/critical parts of each scene consistently without losing them.

The images below shows examples of of elements of cinematography in the movie and a short video that shows effective use composition and lighting and music (sound)to create a feel.

The front cover of Atonement uses the Fibonacci spiral to focus the audiences attention to the character
Close of view of type writer, makes scene more interesting as we try to make out what’s being typed (Atonement 2007)
Use of lighting  Atonement(2007) to capture someone in deep thoughts. minimal lights used only source of light is from the window. very effective as it draws the audience attention and somewhat feel for this character



Visions of light (1992)

Visions of light: The art of cinematography 

During my spare time, i watched a movie recommended by Rakesh called visions of lights, that would aid to understanding cinematography better. The documentary was interesting as I’ve came crossed the word before but didn’t truly understood what it actually meant or what it is. The film started by showing the basic roles and duties in film production. From this we start to see  cinematographers discussed well basically cinematography in their opinion and how important it was in film production , also how it can aid to the effectiveness of a film if used properly.This documentary also showed famous/influential work of some of the cinematographers and how it started of a trend that is still being used in the film industry. One work i was rosemary’s baby. this was because how the cinematographer for that particular film (William.A.Frank) started he purposely used composition to hide her face during a the telephone which i used as an example above. He did this to make that scene more intriguing as we the viewers will eagerly trying find a way to see her face in order to find out what’s truly happening. This i thought was genius! and wouldn’t have guessed having watched the movie a while back.

rosemary baby, telephone scene face cut out makes it more intriguing



For this lab session, we were given a list of words in which we asked to take photographs which best represent them. The main idea behind the task i think, was to get us to start thinking creatively and outside the box  as after all we are on a design course.

The images in the slideshow are images that were taken via my mobile phone during the lab session, in which I had to capture various images that fits into the following given 9 words. These images aim to capture what  I perceived from these words in visual form, some obvious others not so much.

  1.  Line
  2. Shape
  3. Value
  4. Colour
  5. Texture
  6. Mass/Volume
  7. Space
  8. Time
  9. Motion

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This was quite confusing and to be fair a bit tricky to capture images that fitted these 9 words. However, having said that i managed to capture some images that i felt represented those words at that given time.



Film lighting – Kris Malkiewicz

chapter 1

This chapter focuses on cinematography as a whole what is it. it goes into detail, however it talks about cinematography as collaborator. Therefore it basically points out different parts in film production and its relationship with its cinematographer… so for example it takes a a director and explains how a cinematographer works with them. Malkiewicz states that a director and a cinematographer has a symbolic relationship as both of them equally relies on each other, one won’t necessarily work well without the other.

other sources reading