I love the movies. I love blocking out the world for an hour and a half and taking in a good motion picture. Like many creative people, I like to pay special attention to the thought, craft, and hard work that went into lighting, directing, and composing each scene.
I think much can be learned from studying the masterful use of color and composition in many films. ** As part of my latest cinematic color study, I’ve developed a set of movie based Lightroom Presets. Get them here. ** I’ve spent the last several months studying some of my favorite visually stunning films and developing Lightroom presets that incorporate the tone and color of each film. With this set you’ll be able to quickly apply a preset to your photographs and instantly get a more cinematic result. If you would like to be notified when this Preset Pack is available, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter:
I developed the Cinematic Lightroom Preset Pack with landscape photography in mind, but you will be able to apply them to almost any photograph as a starting point and adjust them to your taste.
The above color adjustments are based on the movie “Interstellar.” My philosophy for image editing is increasingly centered around subtly. It only takes a little adjustment to make a big difference in the overall look of an image. You will read below that color is the dominant element of design. My goal with each of these presets is to push the image in the direction of the film they are based in. Intensity can be increased or decreased but I find that the subtle approach is often the best one.
Color is one of the strongest, most dominate elements of composition. Of all the compositional elements such as contrast, shape, value, focal point, balance, shadow, pattern, texture, line, tempo, and rhythm, it is color that has the ability to overpower the others and grab a viewers attention.
My first real consideration of color as a strong element of design happened during a graphic design class in college called Design and Color. I recall that the first half of the class was spend doing assignments and making designs that were required to be absent of color. Removing the most dominant design element allowed us to focus on grasping how all the other elements of composition worked together or conflicted with each other to portray a design.
Only after we had some experience working with all of these supporting elements were we allowed to take our first steps into studying color. The assignments were grueling, yet effective. We were tasked with recreating the color wheel and various other color charts using perfectly cut paper circles and squares pasted on card stock. The hard part? Each color hue and shade had to be carefully created by mixing acrylic paints a little at a time until the correct value was represented. Only the base primary color paints could be used to mix the other colors.
It was hard work. I spent many a late night cutting paper, mixing paint, and trying to match colors. It was hard, but it gave me a very valuable education in color. I learned how complimentary colors work together and how values influence the tone of a color. When I remember to apply these lessons I believe it helps me be a better photographer.
One of my favorite assignments was to pick a famous piece of artwork and extract the main colors from the image and paint a cross section showing the extracted colors. You can see this assignment here:
I’m using the same technique as part of my process to create my Cinematic Lightroom Pack. I grab a frame or image that I feel represents the color scheme of a movie, and then extract the main colors from the image and display them in strips. From this color pallet, it’s now easier to choose the correct hues for the highlights, mid-tones and shadows that can be applied to a photograph with a custom built Lightroom preset.
I’m super excited to get this Cinematic Lightroom Preset pack finished up and released for all of you to try out. I know you’ll love applying them to your images!
In the mean time, take a look at the color extractions for the following films. Presets based on many of these movies will likely end up in the preset pack.
The Secret Life of Walter Mity
Star Trek Into Darkness
The Empire Strikes Back
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Big Hero 6
The Brothers Bloom
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Dark Knight
2001: A Space Odyssey
I am Legend