Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Beauty of Still Photography


I shot my first "Fashion Photography" shoot Wednesday night. Its amazing the differences between motion picture and still photography. With Motion picture you have many different elements and 24 frames per second that can go about to make a good shot.Two big elements that can be used to draw out emotion in cinematography are the motion of the camera and the motion of the actor, or subject if there is any.

With Still photography you have 1 frame and 1 chance to get the composition, framing, lighting, look from the model,and pose of the model to be perfect! Sometimes in motion picture films you make use of an offset composition or strange lighting to have some effect later in the shot,novelty moves that you don't have with stills.

Its for some of these reasons that leads me to feel that still photography is harder then motion picture cinematography. However this means that still photography can be a great way to train your eye for motion picture work because of how small the margin between a good photo and a bad photo is. A margin I'm still learning how to hit every time, but that is what practice is for.

When Things Come Together


Monday, March 9, 2009

The Problem of White Walls.

I was Gaffing on set this last weekend on a set for a short film which was filled with dream sequences. For one of the scenes the character wonders into a room to find his now dead friend waiting there for him. The room we had to shoot in was a small square room which was completely empty with white walls. Upon first glance I was terrified to shoot in such a room! Then I was given one of my favorite instructions of all time "Light this however the **** you want, and don't let it make since" After looking back at the white walled room I pictured it as a blank canvas waiting to be painted and went to grab my things.

There are a few reasons why white walls can be monsters to deal with on set. The biggest being that they are uninteresting and very flat. When you are shooting a film or taking a picture you are creating a world. Everything within your world has to go together to make it believable, or people will reject the matrix which you created. Another big issue with white walls is that they can overexpose very easily making it hard to get good separation between your characters and your background.

To fix my white wall problem was easy. Since it was a dream sequence I could get away with a very easy trick to fix the wall. I simply started by changing the color of the wall all together by using a Fresnel light with a magenta gel. I then decided to break up the color by cutting a cookie and shining a green gelled light at the wall. Green is the contrasting color to magenta so it provided and interesting mix.I also shined a moving water light, which changed colors, into a mirror which bounced into the corner of the wall providing some extra jazz. Finally I lit the actor with a separate white light to bring exposure to his face. Top it off with a keep out sign and some zombie make up from the art director and you got yourself a pretty interesting scene!

Bad Dream

The lighting was a big hit among the crew and the room got tagged the name "70s Dance Room". Now wasn't that more interesting then a white wall?


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Its very difficult to stay motivated. I tend to jump at opportunities and projects quickly, in hopes that I'll shoot something really great or be able to acquire some new skill. This isn't always the case and occasionally I'll find myself burnt out and frustrated.

The best way I've found to fix the problem is to just push through it. I'm rarely completely thrilled with things that I've shot, but that doesn't mean I can't learn from them. That doesn't mean its completely worthless. We have to take everything in stride and remember to look ahead, keeping our mistakes in the past and our frustrations under our feet as we climb our way through.

You can't ever let frustration defeat you! Besides, you never know when you will come across a happy accident.

Lack of Contrast