Composition & Lighting


I love cinematography. If you ask any seasoned cinematographer, what is the most important thing you need to know about cinematography, they will likely tell you that two of the most basic and important aspects of cinematography is composition and lighting. Each of these elements can enforce the content or emotion within a scene or shot individually, but when they are used in concert, they can dictate what you see and feel on the screen.

These are two of the most valuable things that I have learned as a cinematographer. It was heavily emphasized in my degree program as well as in the field. It can be interpreted from a subjective or objective viewpoint. It can put us at ease or make us feel uneasy. But most importantly, it is as much a part of the story as the written word, the performances or the soundtrack/score, and should be treated a such, and given its due attention. A lot of beginning filmmakers (and some seasoned) think you can just point a camera and start filming. They think that the story alone will sell the film to their audience (and in some cases this is true), however the differences between a good film and a great film is when all the elements are given their due process.

Composition: Is how the elements within a scene or shot are placed and how they are positioned within the camera’s frame.

Lighting: Is how the scene or shot is shaped using light. It also affects textures and where the viewer’s eye is led.

Together, these factors can induce emotion and foreshadow coming events. These elements should never be overlooked or taken for granted. Cinematography is as much a science as it is an art form and it should be respected as much as it is appreciated.

Photograph: Screen Lights

By: Q. Ajimine



Exuding lust and luster

Model: Tiara Aleina, Location: Kula, Maui, HI

The purpose of this photograph was clearly meant to capture the essence of the title, lust and luster. Fortunately, Tia is one of those models that have no fear or shame. Because she exudes a natural confidence and sexuality, this photoshoot produced many good quality (content-based) photographs. What I like about the overall image is the two opposite converging triangles that balance out the image. Obviously, the point of the dresses neckline is one triangle, but the less obvious one is the triangle created by the low-angle which widens her breasts that creates the base of the triangle. Her arms and hair (which also form triangles) force the point of this triangle to her forehead. Furthermore, there is a subliminal aspect that enforces this triangle, which is created by the circular curves of her breasts and the half-circle highlight of her forehead. These lines and curves within the image dictated that the image be monochrome. I chose sepia, because it created a softer look when compared to grayscale. This image was edited in Photoshop and Red Giant’s PhotoLooks (Magic Bullet Suite).

Rose Colored


Life is often seen through rose-colored glasses

Model: Uilani Davis, Location: Kahului, Maui, HI

When I was editing this image, I couldn’t help but notice Uilani’s expression. It was pensive yet possessed a quality of sadness. The original image is full of deep reds, but this saturation didn’t blend well with the emotional content of the scene and I felt that desaturation was the obvious progression. This led to the image becoming flat, so after color correcting the image and increasing the highlights on her face, I used a plugin from Red Giant called, PhotoLooks (Magic Bullet Suite) to add the selective focus, increase the contrast and add the rose tint. The selective focus creates depth, and the contrast and highlights draw attention to her face. In the case of this scene, emotion is the contrasting element that separates it from the overall beauty of the image.



The duality of a woman – demure and proud

Model: Uilani Davis, Location: Kahului, Maui, HI

I shot these photographs along with a few others with the intention of creating a set of individual photos. When I was going through the set, I was inspired to merge these two images together based on Uilani’s personality. She is demure, proud and confident. I happened to be editing these two images in Photoshop and had them side-by-side when the inspiration struck. I liked the lines of each image as they flow and almost subconsciously merge together. If it were not for the empty space between the two figures, the two dresses could be easily be interpreted as one. As for Uilani, her posture in each image clearly defines each emotion. The merging of these images is serendipitous based on the line alone.

Interview: Zak Kinsella – Why I found this shoot inspiring

This is a promo video of an interview I did with Zak Kinsella. Zak is a freelance comic book artist and illustrator. He discusses who he is, what he does and his future goals. I find this video inspiring because of how I was able to produce this piece in a small space and in a relatively short period of time while being creative with my lighting design. Though I used practical lighting on-camera, off-camera is three 500W lights, which is used to light the overall scene. Matching the lighting to make it invisible to the conscious viewer was a challenge, but I was able to get the lighting right in the allotted time. I used color correction and conversion gels and a flag kit to make the scene look like it was lit naturally via practical lighting. Another cool aspect of this shoot was getting the interviewee to play along with the humoristic side of the interview. The point of the project was to have fun while making something creative that was both, usable and functional, which I think we were able to pull off.

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