The Decisive Moment brilliantly explained, a flourish of monochrome, easy backup, adapting lenses to rangefinders, finding models, meaning in street photography, iconic photo fraud(?), the rise of interesting NFTs (?), film overtaking digital, how to (really) become a great photographer, great set photography, a macro fantasy, the biggest camera maker in the world – not who you think, teaming up on photoshoots, lens and camera news, and much more to read this weekend 🙂
Last week, in Cambridge, guards dressed in shiny green regularly stopped tourists from visiting certain streets, while a film crew was shooting a movie. Juding by the hero car, a Volvo XC90, the director has impeccable taste 😉 And this was confirmed by the choice of cameras and lenses : Cooke S4 on ARRI.
When we were waved on to continue our walk in between takes, I just had to stay and watch a little longer. The scene being shot was simply the car driving away from point A, in front of a college door, to the end of a twisty street, possibly 60 meters away. 10 seconds of shooting max. No lead actors.
For this, at least 20 extras were hired to simply walk along the street while the car was driving. After every take, the scene unfolded in reverse motion, with the extras being “reset” (placed back at their original location), the car being driven back to point A and the whole crew going through the same lengthy check-list process up to the call of “Action”. When the light wasn’t right, we waited.
Once again, I was struck by how different our two worlds are, in spite of both telling stories through images, using silicium (or gelatin) and glass to do so. So much is hidden inside that truism “films use time in storytelling” that it baffles me that more articles aren’t devoted to it … (Continued below) Quick note: last week was an all-colour post, so this week, I am cleansing my system with an all-monochrome flourish. Ahhhh, that feels better 😉
When the director of a blockbuster biopic (“Spencer”) is also an avid potographer, good things happen. See what photos can look like, on elaborate sets, and read what the author thinks about stealing moments.
The term is well-known and much used, but most often, wrongly so. This essential article summarizes this into my obsessional mantra : “The Decisive Moment is Only About Composition”. Let me repeat myself: in a medium where time cannot be used for storytelling, we can only suggest stories, and we can mostly do so through composition!! Do read this. And please note the grand master’s point of view on the rule of turds, golden whatsits and other such gobbledygook 😉
If you associate NFTs with puzzlingly awful low-res automated images, costly instagram scams, wild and unfounded speculation, you’re not alone. So when an NFT drop is associated with someone the Tate Museum calls “One of the most significant and influential photographers of the twentieth century”, you can be hopeful progress is afoot. This is not strictly speaking news, but was recently brought to my attention by a prominent photo gallery sales director now working for an art blockchain. And it really seems worth sharing.
If we consider photography to have no impact on the environment, this is completely off topic. But, trust me, you’ll be surprised by what you read and hear here. As most of us on DS are conservationists at heart, this is one big argument to spread widely.
Back to movies. Beyond storytelling, how does the added variable of time in filmmaking affect the gear market? That probably sounds like an odd question, but bear with me. The two dominant differences between the photography market and the filmmaking market are build-up and aesthetics.
Cine cameras can be built up for the circumstances they are being used in. A Red Komodo can be used in the field with a small battery, a grip and a lens, for a super stealthy and portable reportage setup. The same exact camera can be at the center of a $100k 100kg setup on a movie set. The closer you come to vlogging and to photography the more monolithic and the less adaptable the gear becomes. A battery grip is about the most extreme you can go.
Cine lenses are built for aesthetics (the director of photography will choose their look to suit the mood of the movie being made). They are built for dependability and ease of use (same aperture throughout the range, no focus breathing, same focus throw, same dimensions so as to be switchable with another without rebuilding the setup, …) The closer you come to photography, the more this exciting combo of looks and usability gets sacrificed in favour of theoretical performance.
Also, both are designed to be rented for projects (hence, for extreme sturdiness), rarely to be owned. Which, again, is a complete departure from the photo universe, where all us gas-afflicted users show pride of ownership of far too many bodies and even more lenses 😉 All of this is easy to observe. But how do we tie it all to theone major difference that is the passing of time, in storytelling? Unsurprisingly, the fastest growing social platform – video based, naturally – is called TikTok. This fascinating questions needs more answers.
Also, what do you prefer? Last week’s all colour? Or this week’s all mono? Same locations, same time, same weather, same gear, same me.
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