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Learn the Language of the Camera Lens

Updated on September 17, 2010

    Every great DP (Director of Photography) understands that camera angles make a suggestion to the viewer.
    The lens is a suggestive form of language. Visual cues are important in every film production. Camera angles are important and should be well thought out by the DP before the shoot takes place. The meaning of an entire scene could be lost or conveyed to the audience by the inexperienced or experienced DP.
    The director gives an interpretation of a scene to the DP and the DP translates the spoken language to visual terms that the brain interprets at a subconscious level.
    A camera angled up to a subject, whether it is animate such as an actor or inanimate such as a building, conveys a meaning of elevation or higher up. Many public speakers are elevated on a stage with the audience looking up. Yes, it is meant to give the audience a clear view of the subject, and it also sending a clear subliminal message to the subconscious mind giving the suggestion of higher opinion of the person speaking. Keeping the tilt at ninety degrees suggest the viewer obtain a neutral opinion of the person or object. Reducing the camera angle lower than ninety degrees suggest the viewer lower opinion.
    Using the camera lens to zoom out away from one subject and cuts to the next scene where the audience observes the camera lens zooming out from another subject denotes a separation. If the DP were to use the same method and zoom in it would give an impression to the mind that the two subjects are coming together.
    The above mentioned camera angles are not all inclusive  to the meaning of the angles. The angles are interacting with the actors facial features, tone of voice, lighting, verbal language being used in the scene. It is the Director of Photography’s job to decide which camera angles would best benefit and forward the meaning that the director desires to express.
    The lens communicates to an audience the surroundings of a subject. An example of creating suspense and tension is created when the main character is being chased down an ally at night. Suddenly he or she loses sight of the assailant. The main character stops, breaths heavily looking around. If the audience were to see the assailant coming from a long way off because the DP were using a wide angle for this scene the tension would be lost. Pull the shot in close on the main character and much of the surrounding is lost beyond the perimeter of the lens. A tension builds inside the audience as the viewers guess the location of the assailant. Suddenly the assailant slowly rises up from behind creating peril and the emotion of fear.
    Learn the language of the lens and how it speaks to the audience.     


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    • Marlin 55 profile imageAUTHOR

      Marlin 55 

      8 years ago from USA

      Sorry I haven't been writing on film making, but I will very soon. I am getting ready to begin adding videos to my work and thank you for the comments

    • photolenses profile image


      8 years ago

      Superb ideas on camera Ienses! highly loved your Hub! I would like to take a look at a great deal more soon?


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