"Best Cinematography" often is a category in the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, but what actually is cinematography? The word comes from the Greek word kinesis, which means "movement," and the word grapho, which is "record." In current terms, cinematography is the way and technique filmmakers use to shoot their movie. There are many elements of cinematography that filmmakers have to consider in order to enlighten the details in the film, and make the story alive. These elements are, but not limited to, lighting, color, focus, framing, and scale, and they all contribute to the creation of a shot.
Ever since movies transitioned from black and white to color, they have become more and more realistic. This is the work of color. Colors in a scene can be used repetitively to show relations between characters and settings, or even to show emotion.
However, it is not the only way to do so. Because of the omnipotent presence of lighting, it can also be used to show emotion. It is also used for dramatic effect. For example, villains in horror movies are shadowed, while angels are bathed in light. While lighting and color represent props in a shot, framing is when the edges of the shot includes or excludes what happens in front of the camera.
Focus directs and audience's attention to the details of the scene. Racking focus, which is adjusting the lens so that it focuses on another object, is a typical technique that a filmmaker would use. Focus puts the attention on the characters, but scale is effective in bringing the relationship between the characters. This is the typical "close-up," or "long shot." The distance between the camera and actors can develop a link with the characters. Western movies would usually use the "medium long shot" to vertically frame a cowboy so that his weapon would always be visible. All of these methods work together to convey a meaning deeper than pictures and dialog.
Like all movies, Sean Penn also used cinematography in the...