Cinematography- an introduction

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Today we will go through the following

1. Introduction to focal length and lenses

2. What is the exposure triangle

3. What is aperture

4. What is focus

5. What is shutter speed

6. What is ISO

7. What makes good composition


The focal length of your lens essentially determines how ‘zoomed in’ your photos are; the higher the number, the more zoomed your lens will be.

It is often misunderstood that the focal length is measured from the front or rear of the lens when, in reality, it’s the distance between the point of convergence in your lens to the sensor or film in your camera.

Take a look at the diagram below that explains this:

EXAMPLES:  WIDE ANGLE 14-24mm WIDE ANGLE 24-35mm STANDARD 35-70mm MID TELEPHOTO 70mm-105mm TELEPHOTO 105-300mm


3. Aperture/ 4, focus

Aperture refers to the opening of a lens's diaphragm through which light passes. It is calibrated in f/stops and is generally written as numbers such as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, 11 and

5. Shutter Speed:

Shutter speed is responsible for two particular things: changing the brightness of your photo, and creating dramatic effects by either freezing action or blurring motion.

Shutter speed is the length of time camera shutter is open, exposing light onto the camera sensor. Essentially, it’s how long your camera spends taking a photo. This has a few important effects in how your images will appear.

When you use a long shutter speed, you end up exposing your sensor for a significant period of time. The first big effect of it is motion blur. If your shutter speed is long, moving subjects in your photo will appear blurred along the direction of motion. This effect is used quite often in advertisements of cars and motorbikes, where a sense of speed and motion is communicated to the viewer by intentionally blurring the moving wheels.

6. ISO:

n the case of digital cameras, ISO sensitivity is a measure of the camera's ability to capture light.

However, raising your ISO has consequences. A photo taken at too high of an ISO will show a lot of grain, also known as noise, and might not be usable. So, brightening a photo via ISO is always a trade-off. You should only raise your ISO when you are unable to brighten the photo via shutter speed or aperture instead (for example, if using a longer shutter speed would cause your subject to be blurry).


The arrangement of everything that appears in the framing – actors, lighting, décor, props, costume – is called mise-en-scène, a French term that means “placing on stage.” The frame and camerawork are also considered part of the mise-en-scène of a movie. In cinema, placing on the stage really means placing on the screen, and the director is in charge of deciding what goes where, when, and how (SOURCE:

Useful link:

Deconstructions of mise-en-scene:

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