Friday, December 25, 2015

Cinematic Photography (night)

Cinematic Photography is an expression that I came across lately. Another name for the same genre seems to be "Hollywood Look".

There is a difference in tone rendering between photography and cinematography, no doubt. However, a certain flavour of street photography, in particular during night time, adopted the Hollywood cinematography look.
To my surprise, it is very effective, and very simple to do.

Before learning about the "Hollywood Look", I just enjoyed watching Hollywood movies once in a a while. Now that I am aware what the effective colour composition used for the Hollywood look is, I am surprised to find it all over the place, e.g. in commercials.

Now, what is so particular about that "look"?

The basic concept seems to be to create a background in complementary colours of the foreground. The foreground will therefore be dominant over the background.

Movies usually tell stories about humans. Those typically have an orange skin tone. So, in order to put an emphasis on the "subject", i.e. the actor, one would tone the actor in the scene in an orange like hue. To make the actor pop, the background would now be toned in the complementary colour, i.e. turquoise.

With that knowledge, watch a Hollywood movie! You will notice, there is a strong preference to orange tones, accompanied by blueish and/or greenish backgrounds.

The Hollywood Look follows a really basic compositional principle that warm colours attract, while cold colours repel (fore- and background).

Let's have a look on a simple photography

Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto

The very same photography, with a Hollywood look applied

Cinematic look

So, what did I do to achieve this look?
First of all, this applies to nighttime images. Nothing I will tell you here will look good in daytime pics!

To achieve the look, I used 3 steps, which only concerned colour temperature.
  1. Graduated filter from the top, decreased colour temperature (getting some blue)
  2. Graduated filter from the bottom, adjusted tint to green
  3. Broad radial filter, warm up colour temperature
The above filters can be stored as presets.
I advice to store the radial filter within the above mentioned presets. 
Now, having applied a preset, the radial (orange) filter can be used as a spotlight, to determine the area to be highlighted.

Concluding, it seems that a rather blue upper portion, a greenish lower portion and a foreground mid-portion having orange tint, define the look of movies.
Very often, the blue is ignored and replaced by turquoise produced by the original process.


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