Giving the cinematic treatment affects the appearance of a photo and the mood it conveys. The recent times have seen a growth in popularity of photo edits that bring out cinematic outputs. Cinematic edits do not just make an image stand out, but also reminds viewers of popular films they may have seen earlier. Such types of photo editing mimic the lighting in blockbuster films, so prior to making the edits, professionals study the films themselves.
Like how a product photo editing professional has to have an understanding of the most important details of a product to apply appropriate edits, editors have to adopt the mindset of a cinematographer to achieve cinematic outputs. A genuine attempt is made to observe the composition of each shot and understand how the lighting establishes each scene’s mood. Photography and filmmaking may be different, but they share several rules. Subsequently, what you can learn from films can be applied to photography.
A lot of processes go into creating such photos, including shooting with fixed prime lenses and setting the cinematic mood with appropriate lighting. Hard lighting is often used in movies for setting a dramatic tone and soft lighting is used for making scenes look heavenly and dreamy. Understanding how to create these with appropriate use of the light source is the task of a photographer.
Even if photographed shots look beautiful, some extra edits still have to be done to make them look more cinematic. Color grading, especially, is used to manipulate the hues and tones in filmmaking. It does not just establish the film’s appearance, but also heightens the overall mood of it. Naturally, the same has to be done to make cinematic photos. This is a task best left to professional picture editing professionals if you want the dramatic outputs.
To color grade a photo, editors play around with temperatures to suit the mood their clients would like to convey in the picture. The color palette affects the perception of viewers, so editors also keep that in mind. The temperature is set towards yellow to make an image feel and look warmer and towards blue to elicit a colder response. The saturation, hues and luminance values are adjusted until the preferred color palette is achieved.
Color grading is ultimately an artistic choice. For instance, the colors of movies by Michael Bay are different from those of Wes Anderson. There are not any precise rules to follow in this respect though, as it is with product photo editing. The trick is to not go overboard with dramatic edits, but keep real things as they are. The sky has to be blue, and skin tones should not appear overtly orange or pale.