The Art of Motion Picture Photography

Film making is a complex and intricate art. The components required to successfully create a full length feature film are numerous and tend to vary from film to film. An average film production crew consists of Script Writer(s), Producer(s), a Director, Camera Operator(s), a Cinematographer, an Editor, a Casting Director, a set Designer, a Costume Designer, Sound Department, Music Department, a Hair and Makeup team, as well as a number of actors and actresses.

Stanley Kubrick shooting 2001: A Space Odyssey

Stanley Kubrick and crew, shooting 2001: A Space Odyssey

The history of film dates back to the early 1890’s, with the first ever paid exhibition having been screened to the public by the Lumier Brothers in 1895 at Le Grand Café, Paris. This 30 second clip depicted a train pulling into a station and it was shot at just the right angle to make it appear as if the train was coming towards the audience. Exciting stuff, right? In today’s time, it may seem about as enthralling as watching your moustache grow, but a century ago this was pretty spectacular stuff. Often covering their eyes during the screening, audiences were terrified and literally believed that the train was going to fly right out of the frame and run over them!

L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (Arrival of a train at La Ciotat)

L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (Arrival of a train at La Ciotat)

The Lumiere Brothers

The Lumiere Brothers

During this era, cinematographers (Also known as Directors of Photography), were the sole creators of the entire film production on set. There was little to no cinematic technique, usually no camera movement, and flat compositions reminiscent of the stage. Today, Cinematography is a broad combination of artistic techniques and camera technologies, which includes everything from aspect ratio, framing, lighting, camera movement to lens, focal length, and even the film/ tape stock or video/ digital storage devices used.

Early Film making: A scene from the silent film "A Trip to the Moon" (1902) by Georges Méliès.

Early Film making: A scene from the silent film “A Trip to the Moon” (1902) by Georges Méliès.

Award winning Steven Spielberg film E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), received worldwide praise for its cinematography.

Award winning Steven Spielberg film E.T The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), received worldwide praise for its cinematography.

As a self-proclaimed film aficionado, my tempestuous romance with film began during the mid to late 1990’s. This was a time when films like Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction and Silence of the Lambs, quite rapidly grew in popularity.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park

I found myself hooked on the action, the horror, the suspense. This was my passion. I craved the thrill of i t. It was only in 2004 that I discovered the beauty of film as art. The spell-bindingly whimsical tale of Amélie, a Parisian waitress with a vividly overactive imagination, caught my eye as well as my heart. Besides a stellar performance by the lovely Audrey Tautou, the creative use of lighting, clever camera angles and signature close-up scenes, made this a truly memorable cinematic experience for me. This is where my love of cinematography and indie/ art films began.

So with that said, here is a list of some of my cinematographic favorites.

Amelie (2001) – Bruno Delbonnel

Audrey Tautou as Amelie

Audrey Tautou as Amelie

Amelie

Amelie

The secret life of Walter Mitty (2013) – Stuart Dryburgh

Sean Penn in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Sean Penn in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty

Titanic (1997) – Russel Carpenter

Exquisite lighting from a scene in Titanic

Exquisite lighting from a scene in Titanic

           Titanic

Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – Anthony Dod Mantle

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire

Slumdog Millionaire-Latika sees Jamal

Slumdog Millionaire-Latika sees Jamal

A.I (2001) – Janusz Kaminski

The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) – Eric Gautier

Gael Garcia Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries

Gael Garcia Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries

The Motorcycle Diaries

Interview with the vampire (1994) – Philippe Rousselot

interview1

louis-2

Inception (2010) – Wally Pfister

Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Inception

Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Inception

Marion Cotilard in Inception

Marion Cotillard in Inception

Ellen Page and Leonardo Dicaprio in Inception

Ellen Page and Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception

Black Swan (2010) – Matthew Libatique

Requiem for a dream (2000) – Matthew Libatique

    

Life of Pi (2012) – Claudio Miranda

Life of Pi.2

Life of Pi

Django Unchained (2012) – Robert Richardson

Inglourious Basterds (2009) – Robert Richardson

Road to perdition (2002) – Conrad Hall

American Beauty (1999) – Conrad Hall

Reservoir Dogs (1992) – Andrzej Sekula

American Psycho (2000) – Andrzej Sekula

Pulp Fiction (1994) – Andrzej Sekula

Silence of the Lambs (1991) – Tak Fujimoto

The Sixth Sense (1999) – Tak Fujimoto

The Shining  (1980)- John Alcott

Barry Lyndon  (1975)- John Alcott

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) – Dion Beebe

Equilibrium (2002) – Dion Beebe

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – Robert Yeoman

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – Robert Yeoman

The Darjeeling Limited (2007) – Robert Yeoman

The Grand Budapest Hotel  (2014) – Robert Yeoman

Gangs of New York (2002) – Michael Ballhaus

Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) – Michael Ballhaus

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind (2004) – Ellen Kuras

A Clockwork Orange (1971)- John Alcott

Another Earth

Close encounters with the beauty of the ocean

Close encounters with the beauty of the ocean

It was writer and undersea explorer, Arthur C. Clarke that said, “How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” I agree with him. About 71% of the earth’s surface is covered by water and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of the Earth’s water content. More than 95% of this underwater world remains unexplored, with countless species co-existing in this vast abyss.

Earth: The water planet

Earth: The water planet

There is an entire world right below the surface of our oceans. A world that exists completely independent of our technology, our politics, our religion, even our mere existence. Science fiction has taught us that the truth is out there, but what about the truth that’s down there? Down below, in the darkest corners of our deep blue seas? I’ll give you a clue. It looks something like this.

Fangtooth fish

Fangtooth fish

Deepsea Hatchet Fish

Deepsea Hatchet Fish

Underwater Arthropods

Underwater Arthropods

Gotta love the neighbors!

Okay, so maybe our neighbors would be far too happy if we joined them down there in the great blue beyond, preferably for dinner, I’d assume. But a weekend away at the bottom of The Mariana Trench (approx. 11 Km deep) would be detrimental to us humans, since we are only capable of diving up to 700 m below the sea’s surface in a fully kitted diving suit.

Besides the creepy creatures lurking in the dark, cold abyss, there are hundreds of thousands of species that exist in our oceans today. Many of which are beautiful, unique and captivatingly interesting. No need to fret. You can still get a glimpse of life under water, without having to worry about being eaten alive, running out of air or being crushed by that pesky oceanic water pressure. An amazing source of images (and information) on underwater wildlife is the Seaphotos website (see link at the bottom of this page) which showcases breathtaking images captured by the acclaimed photographer, author and naturalist, David J. Hall.

Beneath Cold Seas

Beneath Cold Seas

His most recently published book, the National Outdoor Book Award (NOBA) winning, Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific North West, features elegantly shot images as captured by Hall, as well as an introduction by marine biologist Sarika Cullis-Suzuki.

Specifically focusing on cold water marine life, this book aims to refute the widespread belief that these creatures are dull and uninteresting. Here’s a look at some of the stunning images you will find in this truly fascinating and inspirational book.

Jelly fish swarm with surface debris

Jelly fish swarm with surface debris

opalescent nudibranchs and ascidians

opalescent nudibranchs and ascidians

Sea Pens

Sea Pens

Nudibranch

Nudibranch

Seals

Seals

Candy Stripe Shrimp

Candy Stripe Shrimp

Moon Jelly Fish and Cross Jellies

Moon Jelly Fish and Cross Jellies

Salmon headed upstream

Salmon headed upstream

Ochre Sea Stars (Pisaster ochraceus) are most common in the intertidal zone and are often seen in tidepools and clinging to rocks above water, at low tide. Several of these stars appear to be feeding on mussels. Also seen in the photograph made just beneath the surface, are white plumose and green surf anemones. Browning Pass, British Columbia

Ochre Sea Stars (Pisaster ochraceus) are most common in the intertidal zone and are often seen in tidepools and clinging to rocks above water, at low tide. Several of these stars appear to be feeding on mussels. Also seen in the photograph made just beneath the surface, are white plumose and green surf anemones.
Browning Pass, British Columbia

The ocean is a truly amazing and vital part of our planet. Love Planet Ocean and support biodiversity so that our future generations won’t have to marvel at images like these whilst wondering why life in the ocean became extinct.

For more information and pictures from the depths below, you can visit the following links:

http://www.seaphotos.com/

http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/why-no-one-should-mess-with-the-ocean#1u2jp63

http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/HTML/oceanography_how_deep.html

http://marinebio.org/

http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/biodiversity/what_you_can_do/

Pictures and Words

War and Peace: 17 year old Jan Rose Kasmir offers a flower to soldiers during the Pentagon anti-war protest in 1967.

War and Peace: 17 year old Jan Rose Kasmir offers a flower to soldiers during the Pentagon anti-war protest in 1967.

“Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” – Marc Riboud

In 1967 during the Pentagon anti-war protests, French photographer Marc Riboud captured a memorable image that would forever be known as an iconic symbol for the Flower Power movement in America. Often described as “A gauzy juxtaposition of armed forces and flower child innocence”, this photograph tells the story of a 17 year old girl who offered a daisy to bayonet wielding soldiers in a quest to stop the war. Her efforts were not in vain, it seems, as her innocent act of kindness began to speak to the soldiers. There were still, however, 681 one protesters arrested that day and dozens beaten, as they were pushed off the Pentagon’s steps.

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Every now and then though, it’s possible to come across something so indescribably moving that no words could rightly do it justice. It could be the picture of the weeping face of an innocent child, or a watercolor painting of boats resting on the shores of the French Riviera. It could simply even be the abstract mixture of color in an oil based painting. What is it about this image of a girl with a flower in a time of war, that speaks to us so deeply? I believe that this picture is a window into the true nature of humanity. Good versus evil. Innocence versus innocence lost. It is a reflection of a reminder of our forgotten youth. This photograph- the idea of it, what it symbolizes- is so much more than that.

100,000 Monks in prayer for a better world

100,000 Monks in prayer for a better world

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller

Often we find that the way we see things affects our inner being. That strong emotional response influenced by a connection felt in our great proverbial heart is utterly rewarding. Quite recently I found myself searching for this undeniable connection to something real and beautiful. Not mainstream commercial beauty, nor a simple beauty to the eye, but an honest beauty to the heart and soul. With the help of my trusty friend Google, a good cup of herbal tea and a heart-melting collection of pictures compiled by Maia McCann on Distractify (Please check out her link at the ende of this page), I was able to find what I needed. Of course, there were other sources and other images that moved me, but today I’d like to share just a few of my favorite images with you, along with some wise (and quite suitable) quotes.

“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

 Martin Luther King Jr.

3 Weeks old infant with albinism snuggles up to his cousin for a snooze.

3 Weeks old infant with albinism snuggles up to his cousin for a snooze.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Nelson Mandela
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“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”

Albert Schweitzer

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“The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.”

Chief Joseph

Supporters celebrate as Minnesota legalizes gay marriage.

Supporters celebrate as Minnesota legalizes gay marriage.


Edit: Here are some inspiring pictures that were taken of strong women that changed history. This simply made me smile with pride. Please check out the link to the source below.

Women boxing on a roof in L.A in 1933

Women boxing on a roof in L.A in 1933

Kathrine Switzer becomes the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, despite attempts by the marathon organizer to stop her. [1967]

Kathrine Switzer becomes the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, despite attempts by the marathon organizer to stop her. [1967]

Volunteers learn how to fight fires at Pearl Harbor [c. 1941 - 1945]

Volunteers learn how to fight fires at Pearl Harbor [c. 1941 – 1945]

A Lockheed employee working on a P-38 Lightning [Burbank, California, 1944]

A Lockheed employee working on a P-38 Lightning [Burbank, California, 1944]

Sarla Thakral, 21 years old, the first Indian woman to earn a pilot license. [1936]

Sarla Thakral, 21 years old, the first Indian woman to earn a pilot license. [1936]

Photograph of a samurai warrior. [c. late 1800s]

Photograph of a samurai warrior. [c. late 1800s]

I’d like to thank Distractify for this wonderful compilation of pictures. Here are the links as promised.

http://news.distractify.com/people/complex-humans/?v=1

http://news.distractify.com/people/powerful-photos-of-women/?v=1

I am not my hair… and other lesser known truths

Going natural

Going natural: Epic beauty or epic disaster?

 

A wise woman sang: “I am not my hair, I am not my skin. I am not your expectations… I am a soul that lives within.”

Firstly, I’d like to thank India Arie for sharing this wisdom.  But what does it mean to me to not be defined by my hair?

I think everyone knows what it’s like to be judged based on what they look like. Heck, we’re all guilty of doing it to someone else in some way or the other. Her hair’s too straight, her hair’s not straight enough. Too dark, too light. Too thick, too thin. Too plain, too crazy. We all want different things, thus we all like different things. One man’s ugly is another man’s gorgeous. It’s all a matter of perception. So, again this statement- I am NOT my hair, I am NOT my skin –it resonates with so many of us because we can relate to it. This is how I can relate.

Growing up, I absorbed all the misconceptions about beauty that the media and my culture forced upon me. My hair, as it was prior to heat styling, was not at all what I perceived to be beautiful. Straight was perfection. Blonde reigned supreme. My hair was too thick, unmanageable, not straight enough, too dry, too coarse, too damaged, too dark. When you’re that unhappy with a part of yourself and all you can say are bad things, there’s only one thing you can do (or so I thought), attempt to change it. I bought a fancy extra hot, slim nozzle hair dryer and an expensive wet/dry flat iron and went to work on my troubled mane. The results: Amazing. My hair was sleek, shiny and super straight. I loved it! No more cat-that-just-got-struck-by-lightning ponytails. Many people warned me to stock up on the anti-heat hair lubes and I followed suit. I also turned up the heat on my heat styling because the more my curly roots grew out, the more I had to flat iron them. Everyone loved and admired my hair and I thought that I finally had the hair I’d always wished I had.

All that glitters, isn’t gold. Sometimes it’s dandruff.

The itch was killing me. All the products and extra heat on my scalp had caused me to become victim to die hard dandruff! The spiky little aerials constantly searching for signal from my perfectly flat side part was killing me too. My hair was breaking, my arms were tired and I’d become obsessed. I was devastated. Over the years I’d tried many new things to bring life (and manageability) back to my hair. I changed my hair colour a few times, changed my products many times, cut my hair, changed my hair style. I’d even reached the self-realisation that my hair was in a straight-comatose funk, which made me resort to buying a curling iron. Of course THAT didn’t work either, as I hadn’t realised that I have naturally curly hair which I’d been scorching into submission for years. It all came back to the same terrible truth. My hair was not happy.

After numerous attempts to get the “perfect” hair I saw in the magazines, that long silky straight or wavy curl, I decided that I needed a big change. My hair was badly damaged and I needed to accept that. I needed to start over and a new haircut seemed like the best way to do exactly that. I went shorter. Shorter than I’d ever gone before. Everyone hated it, but I loved it. I finally wasted less time and money on my hair and I was looking forward to new, healthier looking hair. BUT that’s not the happy ending I was hoping for. My hair grew, ah yes, it grew. It grew very very slowly. I was still flat ironing. In fact, I’d stopped using my blow dryer all together and my hair had gotten much worse. Once I had enough regrowth, I could tell that my nightmare had returned. Thick, curly roots had begun to pop-up from my skull like weeds in an overgrown garden. Washing my hair became a dreaded chore. Avoiding all extreme weather conditions- rain, wind, sunshine- remained a fearful routine, as I couldn’t risk moisture ruining all my hard work. Again, I was obsessed and it was tiring. This constant fear of what people thought of my hair was crippling me and it greatly affected my social-life. I wouldn’t go to the beach, I wouldn’t dance too long at parties, I didn’t want to go hiking. I was too scared that my hair would frizz and that everyone would see the shocking truth.

Kroes or curly?

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. I met someone truly wonderful and she helped me to see the error of my ways. I finally decided to consider for a moment, why I changed all the aspects of my hair care routine, but one. Heat styling. My hair had fallen victim to this method of torture since it was long enough to braid and wear in ponytails. It broke combs, it was unmanageable and I was lead to believe that it NEEDED heat to survive. Almost like a naughty kid you try to silence with sweets. The kid may be calm for now, but his teeth will always rot and he’ll be left with something pretty ugly and unhealthy looking. I believed that my hair was imperfect in its natural state. So what did that say about me? Like my hair, was I not good enough? Was I not perfect enough without straight hair? Was I not pretty enough? Enough, I thought, enough of this. India Arie was right. I am NOT my hair. BUT my hair is a part of me and I need to love it as it is. In exactly the same way I love my body and my inner-self. I decided to take that leap and let my hair be…well…what it is! In the wise words of The Beetles,  “Let it be, let it be.”

I’ve only just become acquainted with my absolutely glorious natural curls. I didn’t even know I had them! I’m loving every curl, every strand, every moment. I live without fear of the impending doom that is moisture threatening to ‘ruin’ my hair. In fact, my hair LOVES moisture now. Of course, this wasn’t an over-night thing. It took months of doubt, will-powering, self motivating pep talks and research, to get me to where I am today. I am still transitioning and someday my hair will be completely healed from the trauma it had been subjected to for so many years. For now, I swim, I walk in the rain, I run, I don’t care for shower caps and I am proud of what I have. I’ve heard the criticism and the negative comments from the haters, but I’ve also gotten many compliments and words of encouragement. Regardless, it’s MY hair, it’s MY choice and at the risk of quoting the McDonalds slogan- “I’m lovin’ it!”