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DSLR Video Weekly: Composing Shots

This is article #22 in the DSLR Video Weekly series.  If you’d like the whole thing in one shot, check out the book Creating DSLR Video: From Snapshots to Great Shots.

Once you get the hang of video, be sure to monetize it by becoming a contributor to Adobe Stock.


Well-defined diagonal lines lead the plane into the hangar and guide the viewer’s eyes to the primary subject. Photo by Alex Lindsay

The act of composition is the actual framing of the shot. How you compose the frame has a great impact on how a viewer perceives information. A tight shot can convey an emotional response, whereas a point-of-view shot can place the viewer into the action. You’ll find that the art of cinema has several shot types to choose from and even its own language to help those involved in creating film and video.

An additional challenge to pay attention to is how shots lead into each other. Professional filmmakers rarely string a bunch of shots into a pretty montage. Rather, they plan out a sequence of different angles that helps tell the story.

Poring Over the Footage

Changing the angle of the camera can really make a difference in a shot. This shot is from the Las Vegas strip. With all sorts of neon signage, I wanted to simplify the frame. Placing my camera at the base of the sign gave me a clear sky and let me fill more of the frame. I particularly liked the way the signs created strong lines that would intersect at a dramatic angle. An additional benefit of this angle is how the animated arrows on the signs pointed upward as they rippled on and off.

 


ISO 800
1/60 sec.
f/2.8
50mm lens

The use of strong angles can guide a viewer’s eyes through a scene. The top shot takes a simple environment and adds drama. The lines in the wood intersect with the edges of the receipt. The camera is off center as well as tilted to add additional perspective to the shot.

ISO 800
1/50 sec.
f/2.2
50mm lens

The lower shot uses angles to help simplify a complex scene. With so much to look at, a viewer can get distracted by the multiple planes, people, and equipment. Strong diagonal lines guide the eye to the plane and provide a focus point as the plane pulls into the empty hangar.

 


This shot is a much simpler scene at a farmer’s market in Washington, D.C. Here I wanted to put the viewer into my shoes. I positioned the camera at eye level above the produce and tilted down. While shooting the scene, several shoppers’ hands reached in from all sides to examine the produce.

ISO 400
1/50 sec.
f/5
58mm lens

Join us each Saturday for the next installment of this weekly series.

Once you get the hang of video, be sure to monetize it by becoming a contributor to Adobe Stock.

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