Cinematography is the art of capturing images during the creation of motion pictures. In the past, artists working as cinematographers generally relied almost exclusively on cameras that captured footage on film, but over time, video capture technology has become more advanced, and as a result, many films are also made with high-definition digital cameras and other similar devices. The main focus of cinematography is capturing images for movies that are both beautiful and powerful in the way they drive narrative. When it comes to the visual design of a film, the cinematographer is usually a close collaborator with the film's director, and is generally the second highest ranked person in most movie crews.
The abilities needed in the field of cinematography are somewhat similar to those needed in still photography, but there are also many differences. The camera and the actors often move around while a shot is being captured, so lighting across a whole scene and manipulation of the camera during moving sequences are both crucially important aspects. There are also many tools, such as camera dollies, that a cinematographer must fully understand, and these things aren't used in still photography.
Even though cinematography is the art of capturing imagery for a movie, the cinematographer himself is not necessarily the main person responsible for the way a movie looks. In many cases, the director is equally or even more responsible. Often, the director may choose the angles and camera movements in a movie, while the cinematographer focuses on lighting and camera lenses or other technical aspects. The dynamics of this relationship can vary quite a lot depending on the particular skills of the director. Some directors know very little about camerawork, so they mostly focus on working with actors; others might have more knowledge of cinematography and collaborate much more closely on the visual aspects of the movie.
There are many different ways for a cinematographer to affect the way an audience feels about a movie scene. Small changes in lighting, manipulation of the colors in the frame, and subtle adjustments of lenses and focus can all play a role in creating emotions. Sometimes the techniques of cinematography can be very flashy and noticeable, leading to movies that are notably unusual in a visual sense, but sometimes they are very subtle and naturalistic, often to the point where the audience doesn't even become aware of the visual manipulation.