Exercise – Atmosphere

Record two very short scenes, either a single shot or a maximum of four shots that can edit together.
Clearly define the atmosphere you intend to create. Think how you can use lighting, shade and colour to achieve this.

  • Find a suitable location. Think carefully about available light and colour
  • Test how the light looks through your camera.
  • Use additional materials to create desired colour and texture within the scene.
  • Use reflectors and additional lights if they are available.
  • Record your image(s) and edit them.

Upload your sequence to the blog and edit them.


I wish – ChloeClik from ChloeClik on Vimeo.

At first my initial idea was to photograph someone walking in the wood, surrounding by the harmonious bird song and the crunch and crackle of twigs I felt it would have been very atmospheric. Yet the lighting would be the sun (with a few reflectors) and I felt it would be best to chose a harder situation to work with the light.

I was sitting outside enjoying myself when I thought of my poor sister who has had a terrible relapse of M.E recently plus a kidney infection. She hasn’t left the house in weeks and every time I’m in the garden or sat on the seafront I think of her and how hard it is.

With that in mind I decided to create the atmosphere of sadness. As Amber wasn’t well enough to pose I would purely film her in her natural setting of the bed and work around that and use colours and light to highlight her emotions. Then outside we would see my actors running around having a great time tossing a ball to each other or fooling about. Both would be framed. The final frame would be a pull back zoom as the door closed.


Shot in the bedroom and through the window into the garden. A big contrast of light, colour and atmosphere.


Colours that denote pain, loneliness, isolation are generally pale blues, white’s, grey and black. Anything pale with no overly bold colours.

Outside my actors would wear bold and vivid colours throwing a brightly coloured ball to each other. Running around laughing, blue skies, green grass. A very happy image.


In the room the lights would be off allowing dark shadows to representing the exhaustion and fatigue.

Outside the sun would be shining (plan ahead) and the blossom would be in full bloom.


Sound is imperative to creating atmosphere both by being loud and being silent. I recorded the birds singing separately and pasted it into the movie reducing the sound levels so it appeared outside. It adds a calm, tranquil effect and there’s nothing nicer when you’re ill to listen to the birds sing their hearts out.

I also added the inclusion of footsteps to correlate with my actor (effect from iMovie) beginning fading out they increase in volume introducing the arrival of a new character who appears in the next frame.

The shoot 

As we began the shoot I realised it didn’t feel quite realistic my actors running around the garden and shouting and laughing as that’s not the demeanour of my actors. Instead following the French new wave style I didn’t give my actress a script, I told her to come to the window and improvise. Just as long as she interacted with Amber in a happy and upbeat way.

I grabbed some props which have been in use, the pack of tablets for the pain, a book with an inspiring title and a message and produced a tracking shot ending up on Amber ill in bed. The colours of the bedspread are all pale blue associated with loneliness, peacefulness and sadness. The whites represented a clinical appearance and also to illustrate the source of light from the window.

Then I pulled back so the exposure was on the window and this cast Amber in a slight dark appearance reinforcing the fatigue and illness. I love the contrast of the dark and light as it’s so symbolic to how Amber is feeling. It was quite emotional doing this shoot as I remembered the times I had been like this and the pain I feel for my little sister going through such darkness.

I timed it so my actress would come to the window and was pleased she had followed the French wave and improvised with a beautiful basket of bright vibrant colours serving to increase the contrast between the outside and inside world. I also ensured she had a brightly coloured jumper. The sun was shining, the grass vibrant and my actress was cheerful waving at the exhausted Amber who weakly waved back.

Finally pulling back from the sleeping Amber (a blur to show how time has passed) and then the door closes, symbolic in it’s own right.

Look at other student’s sequences and compare your techniques.

In progress.

What works or doesn’t work?

What doesn’t work?

I was frustrated with myself that I cut the shot too soon as the waiting was taking a while but I moved fractionally and the jump was visible in the shot so I had split the scene. This happened twice. If I’d had it on a tripod it wouldn’t have been an issue but it would have lacked the natural slight motion of the shot.

My actress kept looking over to where I was filming, had my sister felt well I would have re shot this so in future I will ensure the actors have no interaction with myself as the cameraman at all.

Again I cut it too soon as I pulled backwards. The transition of going backwards wasn’t very smooth, there’s a clear stumble.

What works

Everything I worked to creating slotted into place nicely, the dark and light contrast was good highlighting the divide between the two.

If budget, time and equipment were no issue how would you change your sequences?

I would find a way to remove the chromic aberration from the window, it appears as a pale purple line whenever shot against bright backgrounds. I’d also have invested in a dolly to pull the camera back (we are making one but it’s in progress) and perhaps re shot and made the room appear darker. I did edit a version to make it darker but it lost the airy clinical feel. I would have also done some subjective shots of the room spinning.

How important is lighting.

Lighting is essential to creating mood, drawing the viewers eye and creating a scene to look how it does so in your imagination. I have a fascinating book called Light Science and Magic so am going to be doing some reading into that.


4 thoughts on “Exercise – Atmosphere

  1. I loved the use of colour here. I read your notes before watching the video and its clearly represented in the shoot. Literally cold miserable colours in doors to the contrast of brightness outside.
    In addition I see how you have embraced the suggestions of following realism and new wave, bringing the drama down a notch or two draws the viewer into the scene more. It appears to allow personal recognition and thus leading to empathy which will always help the audience feel at home.
    Awesome stuff Chloe.


    • ChloeClik says:

      Your comment means so much! Thank you! Really pleased you enjoyed the video. It’s funny, I’ve never really tried to do anything like New wave, it’s always been big drama, pumped up action and dramatic music, doing something like this slowed everything down a bit and I really enjoyed it.

      Thanks so much! 😀


  2. Ashley says:

    Hi Chloe – a great movie. What I like is that in both the part where the camera is focused in the room and when it focusses out the window, you get one side of Amber’s face in the light – I think it was important that she didn’t get lost in the dark. I also think your outside actor’s brightly coloured jersey was effective – straight away you feel the difference between what’s going on inside and outside.
    It must have been hard to film this – well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ChloeClik says:

      Thank you Ashley! I was really pleased the lighting worked like that because usually it tries to either overexpose or underexpose one or the other. It was quite a challenge especially as with Amber’s health I only had one slot of three minutes to get right so I was quite relieved the first shot worked 🙂 Thank you!


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