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What is a long shot?

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Constantly adding new terms to your vocabulary while on your photography or videography journey? It's important to have a "long shot" in your photography and videography wheelhouse as it's a versatile and dramatic shot. A long shot is also known as a wide shot. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the long shot.

Man having fun jumping in the morning at sunrise on the beach reflections on the water surface sea and mountain background long shot

What is a long shot or wide shot? 

A long shot or wide shot is all about characterization and can set a strong tone for a photo or movie. Using a long shot, you can capture the entire subject from head to toe. In photography and videography, long shots are one of the best ways to define the subject you're shooting in relation to their background. Long shots can be used as for humanizing or making a character seem small against the expanse of nature or their surroundings.

It can also help establish a character in how they interact with the scene. Long shots can be vital to create characters with depth. Even with a huge environment allowed by the wide angle, the focus is still on the subject. The creation of relationships is a key point. How close characters are in the expanse? How small they are in relation to the setting? Is this the opening scene? 

Long shot of a couple on the beach

These are all things to understand about long shot. When you're learning what a long shot is, it's also a good idea to keep in mind the point of view. Here's a quick rundown on what is a point-of-view shot.

When to use long shot in videos and photos?

You're probably getting the idea that the long shot is pretty important but also versatile.

Let's look at how a long shot is used in three popular mediums. 

Q: What is a long shot in photos? 

With a still image, it can be difficult to capture personality and scenery at the same time. That's where a long shot can come to the rescue.

Just picture using a long shot on a tiny character with a storm raging largely in the background. Depending on what the person is doing, it can create a relationship and new meaning in the interaction. 

Q: What is a long shot in film?

A long shot is frequently used in film as an establishing shot. In just a few seconds, a viewer can get an idea of what the setting is and who the central characters likely are.

The main plotline might even be really apparent, thanks to the sheer number of things a wide angle can cram into view.

Establishing shot of the Grand Budapest Hotel
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Q: What is a long shot in video?

Long shot doesn't just have to be reserved for filmmaking. You can make use of it in your everyday videos too, to switch things up. The next time you're taking a video of a friend, consider using a wider angle and see what emotions come out of it. 

How to use a long shot?

First, it's a good idea to establish which type of lens you will use. When trying to cram as much into a scene as possible, a wide-angle lens is useful.

It's also a good idea to think about how extreme you want your long shot to be. For instance, with an extreme long shot, your character may be hardly visible, or not visible at all. Think about what's best for the story you are working to tell.  

Examples of long shot in videos to inspire you

Now that you have an idea of how to use a long shot, let's get some ideas from films famous for their use of long shot. Through these three examples, you can get a sense of the variety that long shot brings to the table. 

Long shot in Fight Club's final scene

Perhaps one of the most famous and perfect uses of long shot, this final scene has so much more meaning and grandeur due to the wide-angle lens used. Because of the wide angle, we can see things happening to the right and left that a closer shot wouldn't allow. 

The long shot can give a sense that these two are the only ones in the world without needing words.

The feeling of distance between the characters and the world beyond is well established. 

Long shot in Indiana Jones' boulder scene 

Aside from famous films using long shot, some of the most famous and memorable scenes are also defined using this shooting technique. Here, the long shot is used to try to cram as much of the scenery and Indiana Johns as they can in the tight quarters. This makes the boulder seem massive and the viewer gets a deep sense of the scale when compared to our adventuring archaeologist. In many ways, it makes the boulder feel like it could pop out of the screen, adding suspense!

Long shot in Roma 

This award-winning movie only uses long shots. The sense of distance that we're given with this technique makes even characters close to the camera feel far away.

This is a window into another world and we're constantly reminded that we're not a part of this story. Rather, we've been granted a privilege to look in on the characters and see what they're up to—and we feel helpless in stressful scenes. 

Create long shots in your videos

Want to learn more about photography, video production or video editing?

Why not read up about establishing shots, J-cuts, making a time lapse video

, aperture, focal length, and more in Clipchamp's Video Glossary?

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