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The National Archives ‘Women’s March’ Photoshop Disaster

The National Archives of the USA is putting on a show. “Rightfully Hers: American Women and The Vote.” Out front of the show, there is a large visual display that includes an iconic photograph of the Jan 21, 2017 Women’s March on DC with some blurred out elements. Specifically blurred out is some language on the protest signs, language the Archive staff judged to be political or NSFW. You can read more about it here.

This has created a little tempest. Scholarly readings from Jörg Colberg, from John Edwin Mason, from ReadingThePictures.org, and so on have traversed Twitter with cries of Stalinist erasure and so on. “The is how democracy dies” has been repeated more than once.

Let us back up a little ways. Consider this picture, based on the same iconic photograph:

This is an imaginary poster I made, by blurring the relevant picture and putting some writing on it to advertise an imaginary show. This is clearly a promotional item, not a piece of an Archive. This is not a formal record of the event. While people might certainly complain about my graphic design skills, almost nobody would complain that I was inappropriately altering a photograph.

This is relevant because the National Archives is claiming their version of the photo as a promotional item, essentially the equivalent of my sketchy poster job here.

Here is another picture, also made by me. Imagine it, if you will, hanging in the exhibit itself, presented as a actual artifact, a object from the National Archives:

In this case, the picture is obviously a bad idea. It could be, would be, and most certainly should be vigorously attacked. The modifications alter the apparent facts (in, yes, ludicrous ways) and the picture is, we imagine, presented to us as factual.

Two pictures. One “ok” and one definitely “not ok.” The National Archives claims their altered photo falls in the “ok” region for the same reason that my fake poster does. The commentators seem to largely claim that it instead falls in the “not ok” region, without much supporting argument.

Between the extremes illustrated above there is a vast area, which includes a lot of things that are “ok” as promotional material, and a lot of things that are “not ok” as artifacts from the archive. Also, there is a good-sized grey area in which things are not so clear.

The actual altered photo is presented as a large display outside the exhibit hall, in a position where we expect to see some sort of poster, some sort of promotional material. Often but not always, though, such promotional materials include truthful, accurate, reproductions of what we can expect to see inside the exhibit. One could be forgiven for assuming that the altered photo used as a promotion is just such an accurate reproduction.

I believe the National Archives did err, here. The error, though, is not in altering an archived artifact.

They have fallen, probably by accident, into the grey area. The made a promotional picture, essentially a poster, but made two errors that compound one another. First, the alterations do not make it clear that the photograph has been altered. At first glance, it appears to be a factual and accurate photo, a “truthful” photo. Secondly, by displaying the photo in a position where it is not unusual to find unaltered photographs, they have muddled the perception.

Had they made a dramatic alteration, blurring the whole thing out as I did, the public would generally recognize it as an alteration, and hence classify it correctly as a graphic, a promotional poster. Failing that, they should have left it unaltered to avoid confusion.

The National Archives, as the supposed guardians of some sort of objective truth, of factual, concrete, things, have no business in any grey areas. They owe the public clarity. They have a duty to distinguish clearly between promotional posters and factual archival material, and they have failed, here, in that obligation.


About the author: Andrew Molitor writes software by day and takes pictures by night. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Molitor is based in Norfolk, Virginia, and does his best to obsess over gear, specs, or sharpness. You can find more of his writing on his blog. This article was also published here.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Photos Reimagined as Satirical Paintings

In this article, I am going to share a huge project in which Henri Cartier-Bresson’s black and white photos are reimagined into satirical paintings. What would Bresson see if he were still shooting today? The colorful paintings will definitely give you a glimpse!

Why Henri Cartier-Bresson?

The best reason is for his amazing compositions. Among the plethora of photographers out there, his use of “geometry” as he calls it, is some of the best there is. As most of us know, he was classically trained by a painter named Andre Lhote, the author of an excellent book Treatise of Landscape Painting.

Bresson was also inspired by the surrealist painters and took photos of quite a few famous masters like Salvador Dali, Man Ray, Maurice Tabard, Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti, and Pablo Picasso. He even considered himself a surrealist, but had to keep that a personal secret if he wanted to get any serious work as a photojournalist.

Here’s an interview he did with Charlie Rose:

Charlie: Composition for you?

HCB: Geometry.

Charlie: Geometry? Are you born with that; a sense of geometry?

HCB: Has to be cultivated. It’s a rhythm, the way the head falls here, this goes back, there’s a line between different elements. There’s a square here, a rectangle, another rectangle. See, it’s all these problems which I’m preoccupied with. The greatest joy for me is geometry; that means a structure. You can’t go shooting for shapes, for patterns and all this, but it is a sensuous pleasure, an intellectual pleasure, at the same time to have everything in the right place. It’s a recognition of an order which is in front of you.

If you Google the word “geometry” and look at the definition along with images, you’ll see lots of triangles, squares, circles, and rectangles. If you look in Bresson’s book “The Decisive Moment,” which is known to be “A Bible for Photographers,” you’ll even see a geometrical diagram.

The diagrammed image is cropped (his 35mm camera was a 1.5 ratio) to be the same size as the phi rectangle. When we combine all of our knowledge of what geometry is (found online), with the phi rectangle next to the diagram on Bresson’s photo, we can see that dynamic symmetry is definitely geometry related. Whether or not you think Bresson used dynamic symmetry is beside the point. Start applying more geometry to your photography and art, then perhaps you’ll eventually learn that dynamic symmetry is a tool you’d like to use as well.

We’ve also got this diagram from Andre Lhote’s book with a geometric diagram. If you read the page below, you’ll learn that Lhote talks about the master painters and how they used phi to construct their masterpieces. He also mentions Matila Ghyka, who also wrote a book called “The Geometry of Art and Life.” All of these are breadcrumbs left behind for anyone seeking to know more.

For all of the reasons covered, that is why Henri Cartier-Bresson was the master of choice to pay an homage to. He prioritized composition in his work, surrounded himself with other artists, and followed in the footsteps of the masters before him.

Why Street Photography?

Street photography has its finger on the pulse of the life as we live today, which is an important part of the history of our time. When we look back at the masterful paintings in museums, we see a history of their time. Imagine if it were all fantasy art with people floating in clouds or timeless like the nude figure. It would probably tantalize the eyes just as well, but we wouldn’t have the important aspect of history.

Ironically, I prefer mostly timeless photos and paintings that have no clues of when they were created. Some images or paintings might provoke an emotional response like humor because they present something relatable to the time we live in. This doesn’t mean in 200 years that emotional response will still have an impact on the viewer. Times change and things are sometimes no longer relative, that’s why we can’t rely on emotional response alone if our art is to stand the test of time. We have to have a solid foundation of design and technique as well.

A good example of creating art that represents the time you live in and still holds its emotional impact hundreds of years later is this painting by Joseph Ducreux “Self Portrait-Mocking,” painted in 1793. I saw this group of kids excitingly mocking the “mocking” painting. If you search out Ducreux, you’ll see more of his paintings capturing funny gestures.

When mixing satire with the time we live in, just as they do in movies (i.e. Fight Club, Office Space, Spaceballs, Anchorman, American Psycho, Borat, Team America), it gives us a chance to acknowledge trends that are humorous while also shedding light on potentially heavy topics. This was the approach for the ten
paintings to follow, which were selected from Bresson’s best compositions.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Master Copy Remakes

What is a Master Copy Remake? This was first inspired by seeing how Pablo Picasso remade a painting by Edouard Manet. He didn’t copy it exactly like most artists would, he infused his own artistic style. We can see many artists doing this like Vincent Van Gogh did with Jean-Francois Millet. So, a master copy remake is getting inspiration from a master, using a similar composition, then reinventing it with your own personal tastes and style. Simple and fun!

A Quick Overview of the Process

The paintings are 24×36 which are a 1.5 ratio, the same rectangle Bresson used to compose his images. Most cameras have the ratio of 1.5, but some are 1.333 (micro 4/3 cameras), and 1.25 (5/4 film cameras). I used a limited palette, including Burnt Umber (brown), French Ultramarine Blue, Permanent Alizarin Crimson (red), Cadmium Yellow, Titanium White.

Thumbnails and notes were created first. I used inspiration from Bresson’s photos, mixed it with my own style, then made rough sketches with items I wanted to include. You’ll see reoccurring themes and objects in the paintings to unify them, but also to hit home some of the growing trends of society today (Starbucks Frappacino, old cigarette butts, plastic bottles, red bull cans,

vaping, Crocs foot wear, hover boards, one wheel, saggy pants, prescription drugs, fanny packs, camouflage, beanies, Target bags, James Laker Jersey, Dre Beats, Tattoos, Piercings, Fringe purses, Obesity, hair styles, Apple technology, Hawaiian shirts, Facebook, etc).

The preliminary drawings were started near the end of April, 2019, and organized with the 1.5 dynamic symmetry grid, and other design techniques like arabesques and ellipses. The canvas was stained, then squared for enlarging the drawing.

Since I was still learning to paint when these were started, I finished what I could at the time, set the painting aside, then came back to it once all of them were finished. This way I could make retouches with more experience and knowledge of the painting process. This is a great example of applying dynamic symmetry and design techniques while the painting skills are still developing. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or painter to apply the techniques. Starting with a solid foundation and an informed composition is the most important thing when creating masterful work.

All titles are of the original photo, but with the updated year of 2020.

“Behind the Gare St. Lazare, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Behind the Gare St. Lazare, 1932”

“Eunuch of the Imperial Court, Peking, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Eunuch of the Imperial Court, Peking, 1949”

“Abruzzo, Italy, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Abruzzo, Italy, 1951”

“Mexico, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Mexico, 1964”

“Roman Amphitheater, Valencia, Spain, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Roman Amphitheater, Valencia, Spain, 1933”

“Sifnos, Greece, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Sifnos, Greece, 1961”

“Trastevere, Rome, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Trastevere, Rome, 1959”

“Au Bord de la Marne, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Au Bord de la Marne, 1938”

“Hyeres, France, 2020”

Original photo by Henri Cartier-Bresson: “Hyeres, France, 1932”

Conclusion

Start your own project because once you have a goal in mind and work towards it, you’ll feel a sense of joy and purpose. If you do your own master copy remake, have fun with it. Slowly incorporate the same geometry or dynamic symmetry that Henri Cartier-Bresson did. If you’re analyzing a master painter, make note of the design techniques they used and try to use them in your own work.

That’s it for this one, thanks so much for joining in! Do you have a favorite painting? Please let me know below, I’d love to hear your thoughts. See you next time!


P.S. Here’s a video in which you can see some clips of Bresson’s interview and see some of the photos he took of master artists.


About the author: Tavis Leaf Glover is a fine art photographer and author based in Honolulu, Hawaii. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Flickr, Instagram, and Facebook. Glover is also an educator about applying Gestalt psychology principles to photography and art. This article was also published here.

How Can You Get Kickstarter To Help Your Kickstarter Project?

Elise McCave, Director of Narrative Film for Kickstarter, offers advice that applies to pitching projects at every level.

Kickstarter Film helps projects on the popular crowdfunding reach their goals. But how do they pick the types of projects they help on?

We spoke with Kickstarter Director of Narrative Film, Elise McCave about that, but in the process learned about the pitching process in general, and what opportunities Kickstart Film has coming up for filmmakers in the very near future.

NFS: Tell us about Kickstarter film and where you get involved in the process?

Read More

Blackmagic Design: DaVinci Resolve Used To Grade Ford vs Ferrari

Blackmagic Design announced today that EFILM Senior Colorist Skip Kimball used DaVinci Resolve Studio to grade Twentieth Century Fox’s Ford vs Ferrari. Directed by James Mangold, the film follows the true story of car designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and test driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) as they work to build a revolutionary sports car […]

The post Blackmagic Design: DaVinci Resolve Used To Grade Ford vs Ferrari appeared first on Below the Line.

Street Photography: Risk and Reward

Today I’m going to talk about the correlation between lackluster street photography and avoiding taking risks when out shooting people in public. Before I do, however, I thought it would be helpful to first offer my own definition of street photography. If it does not align with your ideas on what street photography is, well that’s perfectly fine. To each his or her own, right?

I’ve always thought of street photography as a subcategory of documentary photography and to some extent photojournalism. Where documentary photography and photojournalism can be defined as non-fiction visual storytelling employed to chronicle important events in history or document the human condition, street photography is more an art form without constraint.

Street photography is usually random, candid, and somewhat incoherent. It’s often ambiguous. It suggests rather than insists. Its focus is more on the capturing of eye-pleasing, compelling compositions than the need to tell a story.

It can include people but does not have to. It can be honest and it can be deceitful, and sometimes both at once. It defies any attempt to define or label it since its interpretation is ever-evolving. Simply, it is free verse poetry in a visual format.

Good street photography, like good poetry, evokes an emotional response, which ignites the imagination of its viewers inviting them to create their own story out of nothing. Not always, of course. Some street photography does suggest a story, but unlike documentary photography and photojournalism, it’s not the cornerstone of the craft.

When it works, when all the compositional elements come together, along with just the right play of light and shadow, and you have a compelling, visually strong subject matter, the resulting image will usually draw attention, will demand to be considered and explored, and hopefully revisited.

It looks easy enough, but looks can be deceiving. There’s more to street photography than simply taking pictures in an urban setting. Experienced street photographers are able to pre-visualize that decisive moment as it is still coalescing in their viewfinder. They are also fearless when it comes to getting in close to their subjects. Learning to overcome your fears is one of the most important aspects of becoming a good street photographer and that’s what I’m hoping to explore here.

First, let’s go over some of the habits of risk-averse street photographers. If any of the following strikes a chord, not to worry, we’re all guilty of this sort of behavior and shooting style.

Neil Simon is often quoted as saying, “If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine Chapel floor.” This quote speaks to one’s presumable (and in my case, reasonable) fear of heights, seeing as the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling is a vertigo-inducing 68 feet above the floor. It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the sudden stop. Personally, I have no interest in confirming that theory.

It also speaks to the fact that sometimes your best and most rewarding work is born out of that which is most difficult to achieve. If producing good street photography was easy, everybody would be doing it.

With street photography, it’s up to you to determine the level of risk with which you are comfortable. Just know that in many cases comfort and quality are, to an extent, mutually exclusive. I know, because like most street shooters I, too, have spent my fair share of time avoiding risk and my photos suffered for it.

The risk-averse street shooter might be comfortable shooting an empty street sans people. More times than not, the resulting image is about as exciting and engaging as a ripe Banana duct-taped to a boring white wall.

If he or she does include people in said image, count on them being as small as an ant’s turd. If like me, you’re into candid and interesting faces and expressions, not to worry, a quick 800% zoom into the image and there you go. Sure, the pixels and noise will be the size of acorns but that’s beside the point.

Then there are those who take shots of people from like a quarter mile away with a 35mm or 50mm lens, so as not to offend. In post, they’ll severely crop it down and voilà there’s your close-up candid of people. Yes, the resulting image will be about as muddy as a politician’s promises and as sharp as a puddle of paint, but at least no one had to travel outside of their little zone of anxiety-free comfort, right? It’s both easy and peasy.

Another exciting way to engage in risk-free street photography is to employ a long telephoto lens. Snapping away at people roaming around downtown from your front porch in the suburbs is a sure way to avoid any uncomfortable confrontations. Plus, think of the money you’ll save not having to actually drive to where the action is.

Long telephoto lenses also offer features not available to regular lenses, such as lens compression and a depth-of-field as shallow as an Instagram influencer. How exciting is that!? Pretty darn exciting, if you ask me (insert looong yawn here).

The latest “exciting” trend in street photography, based on how ubiquitous is it on social media nowadays, has to be taking photos of people from behind. I have no idea of when the backside of people became so darn enthralling and popular but my best guess is that it has something to do with Pornhub.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it works but mostly it doesn’t. Mostly, when I come across such images, I find myself asking why? Why did the photographer even shoot this? What am I supposed to be getting from this image? When in doubt, assume it doesn’t work, hit delete and save us all from having to see yet another boring shot of a person’s back.

So just when does shooting people from behind work, you might be wondering. When the people in the shot are not your primary subject but rather a compositional element that balances out the image or provides a sense of scale. The image should be able to stand on its own without those peoples’ backs in it. Even then, your image will be stronger if they are facing you rather than facing away from you.

By this point, many of you experienced street shooters will have already surmised where I’m heading with all this. It can be summed up in one discomfort-inducing sentence: Shoot wide and get close.

A quick Google search of the best images made by the masters of street photography over the past century will confirm this. Time and again you’ll see candid, close up shots of people living their lives in an urban environment. Yes, some of the masters (Saul Leiter immediately comes to mind) explored the streets with a long lens mounted to the front of their cameras and produced some stunning images along the way, but where’s the challenge in that?

For me, the act of trying to capture that decisive moment on the street is a difficult endeavor made exciting by pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. I know I’ve been a little hard on those who aren’t yet comfortable getting in close, but I truly feel you are missing out on the thrill and perhaps not yet producing your best work. I know because I’ve been there myself.

One good way to start out is to hit the streets with one or two other more experienced shooters. There’s safety in numbers and often your courage quotient will increase when you know someone’s got your back.

Introduce a wide prime (24mm, 28mm, 35mm) to your camera, if you’ve got one, and you’ll have no choice but to push yourself beyond your boundaries. Plus, the lens distortion a wider prime offers can really add interest to an image if you’re close enough to your subject.

If you’re the shy type, try asking friendly-looking people to pose for a photo. It’s a good way to get a handle on talking to and photographing strangers. You’ll be surprised at the number of people who will say yes to your request.

When in the field do your best not to look apprehensive about taking pictures. Ideally, you want to come across like you are supposed to be there shooting away. You’re a street photographer engaged in your craft, so own it. People will be less likely to respond negatively if you look like you’re busy working with your camera.

The thrill of getting in close and capturing a compelling image is like a drug that’ll change the way you see and shoot. Overcoming your fears will take practice and lots of it, of course, but in time you’ll be making images that would have made Cartier-Bresson raise an envious eyebrow in delight.

Happy shooting.


P.S. Here’s a video in which I share some street photography advice while shooting with the Fujifilm X-Pro3 on the streets of Toronto.


About the author: Dave Bottoms has spent the past decade exploring the streets of Toronto, Canada, where he calls home. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Around Bottoms’ neck hangs a Fujifilm X Pro 2 sporting an 18/2 prime most of the time. Dave is also an Admin for the Toronto Street Photography and Canadian Street Photographers groups on Facebook. When not taking pictures he is a freelance writer/editor for hire and is currently working on a street/documentary photography book of his work. You can find more of his work on his Instagram and blog.

BSC Expo 2020: Cooke Optics Reveals New Lenses

Cooke Optics will be presenting the very latest lenses in its line-up, including the newest Anamorphic/i Full Frame 85mm Macro, on Stand 548 at BSC Expo, which takes place at Battersea Evolution, London, Friday 31st January to Saturday 1st February 2020. Both coatings of the Anamorphic/i Full Frame Plus prime lenses, Standard and SF (Special […]

The post BSC Expo 2020: Cooke Optics Reveals New Lenses appeared first on Below the Line.

Canon EOS RP full-frame camcorder US$999 Rich Port observations

The unusual name of the Canon EOS RP mirrorless hybrid camera reminds me of the English translation of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico: Rich Port. (The model is indeed EOS RP, even though you can’t immediately see the second letter on the front of the body.) I am quite surprised how few of my video colleagues have even heard about this full-frame camera/camcorder which you can currently get new for only US$999 (body only). I have several things to applaud about it beyond its full-frame sensor, picture quality and impeccable continuous autofocus, and a few details I would improve. Ahead you will learn about both, and how to accomplish those improvements, even if Canon doesn’t.

What to applaud about the Canon EOS RP full-frame camera/camcorder

Impeccable Dual Pixel continuous autofocus

…for when you can’t repeat the action, and must get it right the first time, every time.

26.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor

…for better sensitivity in low light and to facilitate reduced depth of field, when desired.

2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder

…to see it easily, even in bright sunlight.

3.0″ 1.04m-dot variable angle touchscreen LCD monitor

…for easier viewing from high and low angles or even for self-video-logging.

RF Lens Mount

The EOS RP features the RF lens mount, which supports Canon’s line of RF-mount lenses. This mount is characterized by its wide 54mm diameter and short 20mm flange-back distance, which promotes the ability to design lenses that are both faster and smaller than their SLR equivalents. The mount also incorporates a 12-pin electronic contact system for more sophisticated autofocus and image stabilization capabilities. This mount design also lends full compatibility to existing EF and EF-S-mount lenses via an optional EF-EOS R Mount Adapter.

Truly worldcam, including ≈23.976p, 25p, ≈29.97p, 50p and ≈59.94p

After a free firmware update, the full-frame Canon EOS RP which you can currently get new for US$999 (AmazonB&H) is now truly worldcam, including:

  • ≈23.976p (aka “23.98p”) at 4K UHD and HD 1080p (both 16:9 aspect ratio)
  • 25p at 4K UHD, HD 1080p and HD 720p (all 16:9 aspect ratio)
  • ≈29.97p at HD 1080p and HD 720p (both 16:9 aspect ratio)
  • 50p at HD 1080p and 720p (both 16:9 aspect ratio)
  • ≈59.94p at 1080p and 720p (both 16:9 aspect ratio)

As I have covered in many articles with the word worldcam, this is important in order to accept all possible contracts even for clients in another region, where a different set of framerates fit in the local broadcast television system.

Has both a microphone input and a headphone output

Both are TRS 3.5mm, but at at least they exist and can be used.

”My Menu” and Custom shooting mode (C1-C3)

Even though some of the EOS RP’s menus are cumbersome and poorly arranged, this fact can fortunately be compensated by the My Menu(which allows you to create your own menu of your favorite things you need to change often) and the three custom shooting modes (C1-C3).

Fortunately displays non-integer framerates in menus

Unlike some other camera manufacturers which cruelly round non-integer framerates in many their camera menus, which confuses many users and even other manufacturers who are new to video (those guilty manufacturers include JVC and Sony in most cameras under US$5000), both Canon and Panasonic have atoned from that sin in recent years, and the Canon EOS RP is no exception. So it displays ≈59.94 as “59.94”, ≈29.97 as “29.97” and ≈23.976 as “23.98”. More about that last one ahead.

Clarification about the ≈23.976p addition to the EOS RP via a free firmware update

Sadly, many reviewers used the term “24p” in their headline and continued to call it “24p” throughout their article or video. Canon fortunately added ≈23.976 HD 1080p after already having it at the pre-existing at 4K UHD (both 16:9 aspect ratio). Canon has not (yet) added exact 24.000p, just as has not (yet added) 4K DCI (4096×2160, 256∶135 or ≈1.90∶1 aspect ratio) resolution to the EOS RP camcorder.

As I have been clarifying for many years, the exact 24.000 framerate is not the same as the television-friendly (since 1953 for NTSC and ex-NTSC regions) ≈23.976 framerate. These two framerates are indistinguishable from an esthetic perspective, but drastically different from a distribution perspective. Digital theaters which follow the DCI do not accept ≈23.976 so if you are using a camera that shoots ≈23.976 but not exact 24.000, you must retime the footage and then use it on a timeline set for exact 24.000 for DCI distribution.

More about this topic in my 2017 article When exact 24 fps beats 23.976… and when it doesn’t (illustrated above) and also Is your camera WorldCam & CineCam too?.

If your distribution requires mainly traditional television, web, tablets and smartphones, then the only issue for you to understand is that if you are not distributing for DCI film theaters and your camera doesn’t offer exact 24.000p, your 24-ish framerate for shooting and editing should be ≈23.976 (aka “23.98”).

What I would like improved in the Canon EOS RP via a future firmware update

Image credit: Adam Wilt
  • Video waveform and/or false color. Of course, you can use an external HDMI monitor or Adam Wilt’s ≈US$20 FieldMonitor for iOS for your iPad, iPod Touch or iPhone (shown above) to add this feature. At least Panasonic’s GH5 and GH5s offer video waveform.
  • Shutter angle so the operator won’t have to change the shutter speed manually while changing framerates, i.e. to achieve 180-degree shutter by setting it at 1/48 (or 1/50 if 1/48 is unavailable) at ≈23.976p, 1/50 at 25p or 1/60 at ≈29.97p. At least Panasonic’s GH5 and GH5s offer the shutter angle option.
  • C-LOG, Canon’s profile offered only in more expensive Canon camcorders. Thanks to Andrew Reid, you can add this profile (and much more) to your Canon EOS RP for ≈US$26. See ahead.

Andrew Reid’s ≈US$26 EOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles Pack

For about US$26, you can get the following ten profiles added to your Canon EOS RP (or other Canon camera):

  1. EOSHD C-LOG (Custom LOG). “C-LOG (Custom LOG) greatly extends dynamic range in the shadows to match that of Canon LOG as closely as possible. This means you can expose for the highlights and maximise the dynamic range of your videos.”
  2. EOSHD Scarlett (silver blacks and a soft film-like texture but vivid, rich colour)
  3. EOSHD Chrome (moody desaturated cinema look for drama, horror, sci-fi)
  4. EOSHD Mono-Adams (high contrast black and white, adding drama to landscape and cityscape scenes)
  5. EOSHD Monochrome (low contrast black and white, for portraits and a classic 1960’s Italian cinema style)
  6. EOSHD Vivid SkinTone (alive colour, electricity to image, overall vitality to skin)
  7. EOSHD Cinema 1 (highest contrast and saturation)
  8. EOSHD Cinema 2 (raised black level but maintains high contrast)
  9. EOSHD Cinema 3 (normal saturation and contrast)
  10. EOSHD Cinema 4 (a more muted and less stylised film look for all-round cinema)

For more information, see Andrew Reid’s article here.

Conclusions and purchase links

I am intrigued by all that can be achieved by the Canon EOS RP full-frame camera. If interested, get it while you still can for US$999 (AmazonB&H).

NOTE: Many online posts complain about the “lack” of ≈23.976p on this camera in 1080p. Those were published before the free firmware update (which changed everything), or people who read about those prior posts and simply echoed the outdated information. Indeed, the Canon EOS RP has ≈23.976p (aka “23.98”)) even in HD 1080p after the latest free firmware update.

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Save US$20 on Google Fi, my favorite mobile telephony and data service

One of my favorite service for broadcasting live via is Google Fi. Click here to save US$20 on Google Fi, which now works on iPhone and Android. With Google Fi (covered previously in several articles), there is no extra charge for data-only SIM cards on the same account, for up to 10 devices. You only pay for the total data, and data is free after 6 GB per month. So you could be using one Google FI SIM card on your primary phone, another in a tablet or secondary phone (or third, of fourth…).

FTC disclosure

No manufacturer is specifically paying Allan Tépper or TecnoTur LLC to write this article or the mentioned books. Some of the other manufacturers listed above have contracted Tépper and/or TecnoTur LLC to carry out consulting and/or translations/localizations/transcreations. Many of the manufacturers listed above have sent Allan Tépper review units. So far, none of the manufacturers listed above is/are sponsors of the TecnoTur , BeyondPodcasting CapicúaFM or TuRadioGlobal programs, although they are welcome to do so, and some are, may be (or may have been) sponsors of ProVideo Coalition magazine. Some links to third parties listed in this article and/or on this web page may indirectly benefit TecnoTur LLC via affiliate programs. Allan Tépper’s opinions are his own. Allan Tépper is not liable for misuse or misunderstanding of information he shares.

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Perfect is Boring: Lens Makers Need to Loosen Up and Have Fun

Over the past few years, I’ve experienced a number of lenses that were optically stunning. Near-perfect examples of optical technology, lenses like the Sony 135mm f/1.8 (which I reviewed and loved) and 24mm f/1.4 (also loved) along with the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2 or their RF 50mm f/1.2 all exhibited these traits of pushing towards “perfection.”

Sony especially, on multiple occasions, has spent a great deal of time speaking to press about how they attained results that ride ever closer to the line of flawless.

Yet my favorite images, and favorite shooting experiences, over that same time period did not happen on any of these lenses. They’re fantastic products, don’t get me wrong, but I’m beginning to feel that they’re unexciting.

Perfection is boring.

My favorite images that I have captured over the past few years were taken on Leica lenses, and though they are sharp the reason they are coveted and lusted after isn’t because of their chromatic aberration control (they don’t have this) or edge to edge sharpness (or this) or even their ability to suppress vignetting (they definitely don’t have this). No, the reason they are coveted is their “look.”

Photo by Jaron Schneider w/ Noctilux-M 1:1.25/75 ASPH

That look would not exist if these lenses were perfect.

I recently talked about this subject with my friend Ted Forbes on our Podcast, The Art of Photography: Off Camera, and we both agreed that as excellent as it is to have optically perfect lenses, we miss having lenses with character. I argued that when a lens is so nearly perfect like the Sony 24mm or the 135mm are, they don’t exhibit any “soul.” They capture images that are sharp — beautifully wonderfully sharp — but are they as compelling?

Photo by Jaron Schneider w/ Summilux-M 1:1.4/35 ASPH.
Photo by Jaron Schneider w/ Summilux-M 1:1.4/35 ASPH.

I’m not big into shooting film anymore. Though I learned on film and I have two Nikon F film cameras (and I used to develop all my own film), I’ve fully transitioned to digital. When I was talking about this subject, I surmised that many modern photographers who decide to shoot film may or may not be realizing the reason they are doing it is because of the lenses. Half the “look” of film shots are the optics, optics that are unique to that time because of their imperfections.

What if a camera manufacturer re-released lenses of old, remade for modern sensors. Add autofocus, but keep the soul of the original lens intact? Would that not be desirable?

Photo by Jaron Schneider w/ Noctilux-M 1:1.25/75 ASPH.

Imagine if Canon, or Sony, or whoever released a set of “classic” lenses. I don’t think it would work as well if they released them slowly over time but instead came out with a series of five or six all at once. I wouldn’t expect them to be that expensive, and they wouldn’t be “optically excellent” like G-Master or Canon L glass. They would be a symbol of a company’s commitment to creativity, and show that they are still in touch with what makes photography a hobby people start to begin with: it’s fun.

I keep mentioning Canon and Sony, but I don’t know that those two are actually the best to do this. Sony is really hung up on making perfect lenses (though they could theoretically remake old Minolta glass), and Canon might not have the ability to perfectly recreate these older lenses. But do you know who does?

Nikon.

Nikon has a device that they have developed internally that helps them make their Nikkor lenses. It’s called the Optical Performance and Total Image Analyzer, or OPTIA for short. Nikon shares very little about this technology, and some folks at Nikon don’t seem to understand it themselves. But based on this article describing its capability, I believe Nikon is currently best set up to recreate classic lenses on modern bodies while still staying true to what made those classic lenses sing.

Imagine the Nikkor Noct 58mm f/1.2, remade for modern cameras but with all the soul of the original.

OPTIA is capable of not only helping lens designers build those near-perfect lenses that I mentioned earlier, but it can also actually determine what about a specific lens gives it its specific characteristics, its “soul.” Nikon’s description of OPTIA says that “in the past, a prototype lens was physically manufactured, and used repeatedly to take images for evaluation. However, it is now possible to confirm bokeh and reproduction of textures, etc. by looking at the simulated image generated by the image simulator.”

Dave Etchells from Imaging Resource interviewed Nikon about the OPTIA years ago, and despite Nikon’s coyness was able to extract a bit of information from them about it.

“It seems that the most important part of OPTIA is its measurement capability, an ability to much more fully characterize the individual lens elements than was previously possible,” he wrote. “This enhanced understanding of the individual lens elements then plays into more advanced simulation software, but Yamamoto-san emphasized in his remarks that it was the measurement or optical characterization capability that was the most significant part of the advancement.”

Granted, Nikon either wasn’t able or was reluctant to fully explain OPTIA at the time, and even their website description of the system is vague. But from multiple sources that I’ve read, the idea seems to be that the device has the ability to see any lens and analyze its every characteristic.

Imagine the AI AF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8S, remade for modern day but with all the character of the original.

That is to say, OPTIA can analyze any lens and then allow engineers to know exactly how to reproduce that look, or any specific part of a lens’ look, in another lens. “OPTIA provides data for designers to use as a guide, and the image simulator creates simulations based on the design.”

Nikon hasn’t actually used OPTIA to reproduce old lenses like I am suggesting they could. They only mention that a small handful of new lenses were developed using OPTIA’s capability, like the 105mm f/1.4E, the 58mm f/1.4G, and the 35mm f/1.8G. But based on how they describe OPTIA, the suggestion of analyzing older, classic Nikkor glass and reproducing it with the addition of autofocus is absolutely possible. No other company has ever made mention of any technology even close to this, which is why I think Nikon is in the best position to take advantage of that technology and give photographers fun, unique lenses again.

Not perfect, but classic. Fun.

I think the focus of making optically excellent glass has become a kind of competition among camera companies, and it’s a mix of their fault and ours. On the one hand, they keep fighting amongst each other to produce the sharpest, most perfect lenses for their systems. On the other hand, we as consumers just love to pixel peep. Hell, I just performed an experiment and wrote over 1000 words on sharpness comparisons among all mirrorless 24-70mm lenses on the market. That kind of thing definitely reinforces to manufacturers that the most important thing about a lens is perfection across the board.

I apologize for this and hope that they understand that as much as I look for perfection in some cases, I also am begging them to give me the option to shoot with something with a unique soul.

Photo by Jaron Schneider w/ Noctilux-M 1:1.25/75 ASPH.
Photo by Jaron Schneider w/ Noctilux-M 1:1.25/75 ASPH.

I keep thinking back to my time in Germany with Leica M lenses, and how for the first time in quite a while, I was just loving taking photos. It didn’t matter of what, all that mattered was using those lenses because of how they made me feel. I think that feeling can be replicated for everyone… if only lens manufacturers decide to let it happen.

Rigidesigns Para Mount VESA for Production Monitors

Rigidesigns, a US company specialized in high-quality monitor tripod mounts, just released the Para Mount VESA. This compact and sturdy mounting option is VESA 100×100 compatible and can help you mount production monitors up to 35lb/16kg on a light stand easily. Let’s take a closer look at it!

VESA Mount to C-Stand Adapters

If you want to mount a production monitor – usually monitors over 17″ – to a light stand or C-Stand, you typically need to buy an extra VESA mount to C-stand adapter. At the moment, existing solutions on the market are elementary. Indeed, most of them only allow you to mount your monitor on a stand, and voila. Indeed, you can’t tilt your monitor or mount extra accessories to it.

ParaMountVESA_01

From left to right: Shape Swivel Mount, FSI MM100-LP, Matthews Monitor Mount for Baby (5/8″) Spigot

Some solutions from companies like Shape with their Swivel Monitor Mount exist, but they are monitor-specific. Other VESA to C-stand plates from FSI or Matthews, for example, are a bit more versatile, but not more than the Para Mount VESA by Rigidesigns.

ParaMountVESA_Featured

Image credit: Rigidesigns

Low-Profile and Build Quality

The Para Mount VESA by Rigidesigns is only 2-inches wide plate that you can mount at the back of any compatible production monitor – VESA 100×100 – if you want to put it on a light stand quickly.

Your production monitor is securely mounted to the mount via four screws (two into each bracket). The low-profile design allows you to leave it on the monitor at all times. Also, it should fit in the original case without any problems.

ParaMountVESA_02

Image credit: Rigidesigns

It’s rare that I feel like a product is built like a tank and that it should last for years. The Para Mount VESA is made of high-quality materials only, including:

  • 6061 Machined CNC Aluminum for the frame.
  • Aluminum for the handle.
  • Steel for the hinge.
  • Metal for the latching mechanism.
  • Stainless steel for the 1/4-20″ tightening.
  • A bit of soft rubber for the grip.

The maximum payload of the Para Mount VESA is 35lb/16kg, which should be sufficient for most of the production monitors available. As an example, a 24-inch Atomos Neon monitor is 18.95lb/8.6kg. I have no doubts that this monitor mount will survive your production monitor.

Rigidesigns Para Mount VESA Features

Once the Para Mount VESA is folded, there is a handle at the top of the monitor. It allows you to quickly get it out of your fly case and transport the monitor on set.

ParaMountVESA_07

Image credit: Rigidesigns

To deploy it, you need to pull the metal latch that keeps it in place. Then, the Para Mount VESA folds at 90°, and you can mount it on your C-stand/light stand. The cool thing in the design of this VESA adapter is that thanks to the friction hinge, you can still tilt your monitor up and down once it’s on your lighting stand.

ParaMountVESA_09

Image credit: Rigidesigns

The real selling point of the Para Mount VESA is the numerous 1/4” and 3/8-inch holes all over the plate. You can use these mounting points to attach magic arms, a battery plate, a wireless video transmitter, a cup holder, or whatever you want.

ParaMountVESA_03

Image credit: Rigidesigns

Desktop Mounting and Battery Bracket

If you don’t want to mount your production monitor on a light stand but prefer to put it on a table, no problems. Indeed, by fully extending the Para Mount VESA, the built-in handle doubles as a stand.

ParaMountVESA_08

Image credit: Rigidesigns

Finally, if you want to mount a V-Mount or Gold Mount battery directly to the Para Mount VESA, the team at Rigidesigns got you covered. As an optional accessory, you can buy the Para Mount Battery Plate.

ParaMountVESA_06

The Para Mount Battery Plate. Image credit: Rigidesigns

This plate allows you to mount your power source on either side of the monitor, or even on the top of the mount.

ParaMountVESA_05

Image credit: Rigidesigns

Pricing and Availability

The Para Mount VESA retails for $259.00, and it is available in a red or black colorway. The Para Mount Battery Plate is an extra $125.00. Both products are available now on Rigidesigns’ website.

What do you think of this VESA adapter plate by Rigidesigns? Do you often use production monitors on your shoots? Let us know in the comments below!

The post Rigidesigns Para Mount VESA for Production Monitors appeared first on cinema5D.

Marc Galer: 2020 – Sony Alpha Imaging Developments – Where to from here?

Marc Galer: What does the future have in store for Sony Alpha photographers? 2020 marks an important point in Sony’s imaging technology development. Sony has been at the forefront of imaging innovation in the interchangeable lens camera market since 2010…

The post Marc Galer: 2020 – Sony Alpha Imaging Developments – Where to from here? appeared first on sonyalpharumors.

Sundance 2020: Spotlight on Robert Leitzell, DP of “Black Bear”

8Sure to be a crowd-pleaser amongst filmmakers, Black Bear is a story of a director who blurs the line between art and reality.  The protagonist, played by Aubrey Plaza, draws the audience into her search for creative revitalization, which she pursues through the real-life manipulation of a married couple hosting her at a remote lake house in the Adirondacks.  Black Bear is one of ten films in the Sundance Film Festival’s NEXT Category.  Below is our interview with the movie’s cinematographer, Rob Leitzell.

Aubrey Plaza and Christopher Abbott appear in Black Bear. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Rob Leitzell.

Name: Robert Leitzell
Film: Black Bear (dir.Lawrence Michael Levine)
Competition Category: NEXT
Camera Body: Arri Alexa Mini
Lenses: Cooke Speed Panchro

cinema5D: Where did your connection to cameras start?
RL: My dad was an avid amateur photographer and shot thousands of slides when he traveled for work. He let me use his camera when I was a kid, eventually bought me my own. I kept shooting until college, but I was almost entirely self-taught from Ansel Adams’s books. Learning darkroom printing from my dad’s system was a years-long obsession.

cinema5D:  So you were artistically inclined from early on then?
RL: As a kid who wanted to be an artist but didn’t show much talent in drawing or painting, I learned to work with my hands:  learning carpentry and construction for my school theater. By the time I was in college, I was drafting and designing stage sets.  That led me to a job helping a group of young filmmakers design and build sets for an opera they were writing.

cinema5D:  What was your major in college?
RL: I somehow majored in “Photography and Performance Art” at Wesleyan University.

cinema5D:  And that was where you were building sets?
RL: I built sets from 2003 to 2008 or so…both in college and for a little while after for a friend at Columbia Grad.

BTS Photos of Black Bear by Erika Svensson & Katie Grant.

cinema5D:  Back to the opera-writing filmmakers.  Were they your gateway to the filmmaking world?
RL:  That experience and the photos I took of their show led me to shoot some of their student films.  I found that my experience as a photographer gave me a good start as a cinematographer. I shot short films and music videos for them for a number of years.  Then, I worked on the side as a grip to make money, until I enrolled at NYU Grad Film to study directing.

cinema5D:  How was your experience in the directing program at NYU?
RL:  I met some really talented people and great professors at NYU, but directing stressed me out.  I didn’t feel that I had the talent as a writer that NYU wanted out of its directors, so I dropped out and took the opportunity to go and work on Beasts of the Southern Wild with a lot of my friends, which was a pretty convincing life path. My experience in art and design led to a number of jobs as a Technical Director and VFX Cinematographer, which I alternated with more traditional narrative cinematography. For the past few years, I’ve been entirely focused on that more traditional vein of work. I love it, but it has not been a particularly straight path.

BTS Photos of Black Bear by Erika Svensson & Katie Grant.

cinema5D: What movies have really inspired you?  Any favorite DPs or directors?
RL: Early on, (I was inspired) by a lot of black and white masters:  Fellini’s 8 1/2. Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc, Murnau’s Sunrise, Fritz Lang’s M, Dziga Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera…
Then I found color: Terrence Malick and Wong Kar-wai. Their respective Badlands/Days of Heaven/Thin Red Line/The New World and Chungking Express/Happy Together/In the Mood for Love/2046 are  I return to pretty frequently. The past five years or so have been Kaurismaki, Cassavettes, Assayas, Apichatong. Those are heavy-hitters for me, but there are more! I love how every film clues me in to new things. Black Bear got me really into Maurice Pialat and Sang-soo Hong.

cinema5D: Were those the directors that Lawrence Michael Levine wanted you to watch for reference?
RL:  Lawrence turned me on to the incredible work of Sang-soo Hong, and we watched Maurice Pialat’s work,  specifically Loulou and A Nos Amours.  We talked a lot about Olivier Assayas, who has a remarkable feel for camera work in all his films (and has had a number of great DP’s). We watched and rewatched a bunch of Assayas films, because he moves the camera like nobody else.

cinema5D:  Were the two of you in agreement on what you did and didn’t want?
RL: Honestly, we came into the process with a lot of mutual trust and admiration, and were pretty much on the same page from the beginning.

cinema5D: What’s your advice to directors on how to optimize their relationships with their DPs?
RL: Frequently I will try and watch movies that a director finds inspiring or fascinating or that follow a similar vibe, but visual art of any kind can be useful. What I’m trying to find is a shorthand vocabulary for the film that we can use to get complicated concepts and emotions across quickly and specifically when we are tired or stressed or short on time. Saying “do it like such-and-such would” can save easily ten minutes of conversation if you’ve done your homework in advance together. Shotlisting and storyboarding can be useful, but you always need to be ready to cast off that framework if better opportunities arise.

Having a director who is interested in keeping channels open and unifying the visual approach across the board is a necessary element of making beautiful work. I find that seeing the set dressed is always really inspiring, and always comes, necessarily, pretty late in the game. (I’m lucky enough to be married to a really talented Production Designer and Costume Designer, who has taught me a lot about the process of creativity.)

BTS Photos of Black Bear by Erika Svensson & Katie Grant.

I have figured out over the years that a lot of the work I’m proudest of, visually, is striking because of a really herculean effort by the other departments on set. Filmmakers are often less fluent and comfortable with the art/costume/hmu side of the process, which I think limits what they are capable of. Being able to collaborate closely with those department heads is an amazing experience for me. I’m not particularly interested in coming on to a film and pursuing a unilateral approach to what I think the cinematography “should be.” I really prefer trying to find a way to get what I see for a film in line with a director’s vision, a PD’s vision, and so on.

cinema5D: Were the people on this particular production team a draw for you to work on Black Bear?  RL:  It’s tricky, because at the end of the day its the production team who are the people that put together what I need to do my job on set, and in this case, I had never met or worked with anyone on production.  (Lawrence and I) had never worked together as Director/DP, but I so liked the way he talked about this movie that I probably would have done it for any budget and any timeline. I just believed in it from the get-go. In this case, I was lucky enough to also have the support and talent of a great cast and crew, which is always special.

cinema5D: What about the script made you believe in it from the ”get-go?”

RL: Normally, I find I need to read a script two or three times to really get a handle on what my approach should be, but in this case, the movie was brilliantly clear on the first read. The script was so emotionally intense and structurally distinct that it grabbed my attention immediately. There were other things, of course. A single location can be a blessing. Having that location on a beautiful lake in upstate New York for the hot months of summer had an appeal to myself and many members of our talented crew.

cinema5D:  Let’s talk about preproduction. How did you and Lawrence prepare?
RL: Preproduction was a race.  The abbreviated schedule didn’t allow for much of a tech scout, and the location was locked by the time I came on-board. Without having done a director’s scout or having good floorplans, it was pretty difficult to do any particularly elaborate shot-listing. We did go through that process for scenes that demanded a clear approach, just so we had some structure down and could talk through a dry-run of different ways to approach scenes.

Largely, though, we spent a lot of time talking about the feeling of certain scenes, the general language of the film, what kind of shots we liked, what we wanted to avoid. We were ready to work quickly from that sort of general shooting bible on the day.

The limited prep schedule also caused headaches for my wonderful G&E team, working in a difficult location, on a tight schedule: no time to put anything into the walls, window reflections, and a small team to deal with that. They killed it.

cinema5D: Any personal philosophy for running the camera department?
RL: I’m not particularly dogmatic in my approach, and try to stay as flexible as possible. It’s obvious that every film requires different things visually, but I think that’s also true emotionally, and it requires a lot of patience and subtlety to get yourself in the right place. I try to be as friendly and positive on set as possible. I look for crew who are friendly and kind, and who have an artistic and creative mindset. I rely heavily on my crew as active collaborators in a shared vision. At a certain point on any shoot, there will be moments where you will feel your energy lag, or your vision wander, and it’s enormously helpful to have everyone around you understand the beauty and specificity of this film, and this time.

BTS Photos of Black Bear by Erika Svensson & Katie Grant.

I also know every single mistake in a film will irritate and haunt me for years: through edit, through the color correct, through the premiere, and so on. It’s always worth it to get it right, but it’s never worth it to do so in a way that doesn’t respect the degree of physical work. Filmmaking is emotionally and physically draining. I work hard not to waste the efforts of others, and I try to make time on set comfortable and fun.

cinema5D:  Any dealbreakers that will get someone kicked off your team?
RL: I don’t rehire crew who have a bad attitude or who aren’t up to the challenges of the job. When you have somebody with either of those issues, I think it’s important to work to replace them as quickly as possible. Keeping people around who are a liability is unfair to the professionalism and work of everyone else on set.

cinema5D:  Fair enough! Why did you decide to go with the Alex Mini?
RL: It’s hard to find a reason not to use the Alexa Mini at the moment. Put aside the technical advantages, which are formidable. It’s also a camera that I know so intimately that it becomes a simple tool, in no way a distraction or piece of tech, and can become almost invisible on set in the hands of a good AC. A good gaffer knows just how far they can push it, a good colorist already has worked that image a hundred different ways. It leaves more mental space to make creative decisions, and in the end is still the loveliest image around.

cinema5D: So it was just a given.
RL: I did test a Venice, and although the dual-ISO would have been useful for us, it’s heavy for handheld, and I wasn’t convinced it was ready for production on a shoot like ours. We were six hours out of the city and without the budget for a second camera body, so any sort of equipment mishap would have been disastrous. I haven’t had an Alexa of any kind fail on me since I began shooting on them, almost a decade ago.

cinema5D:  What about the optics?
RL:  Choosing Speed Panchros for lenses came after a lot of discussion and testing. I have enough experience to be able to limit my choices down to 3 or 4 families of lenses. Before (making a selection), I go to a rental bay and put a normal length on the camera from each set, maybe a 40mm, and it’s almost always obvious which one has the right feel.  I have a set of technical needs that will limit my choices somewhat, but my process for selecting lenses ends up being pretty emotional.

In this case, Speed Panchros were the correct choice.  They are flattering to faces; they have lovely fall off and a touch of vignetting. They have a glamour and timelessness that felt right for Black Bear.  There are some lengths that I tried to keep out of the film. The wide and long ends of the group are not the best, which ends up locking you into a 32mm to 75mm range, but that’s a pretty happy place for me anyway, and I could never shake how nice the 32 and 40 are.

cinema5D: Did you and Levine stay on the same page through principle photography?
RL: We trusted each other. He was pretty hands-off throughout. Generally speaking, we’d see if the blocking we’d planned could work, watch a rehearsal, have a brief discussion of the shooting strategy, and then from that point on, I gave him the freedom to be 100% consumed by his work with the actors. Maybe once or twice each day he’d come to me for a tweak or suggestion or concern, but otherwise, we kept pretty locked in on our departments.

cinema5D: Did you use any new tech or tools for this shoot?
RL: Our incredible gaffer Derek Horani brought a set of Astera tubes, which are so common on music video and commercial work, but I’d never used them on a narrative project. They were unbelievably helpful, but as with all bits of tech their true utility showed itself in Derek’s exceptional proficiency with them. Being able to run dimmers mid-take, on a small shoot with limited crew and power, is a remarkable ability. I have been a big proponent of the Ratpak AKS system, and always carry one in my kit as well, but on this shoot, the Asteras were king. His team also worked hard every single night to get a really finicky location power system working through endless blackouts and annoyances.

BTS Photos of Black Bear by Erika Svensson & Katie Grant.

cinema5D: Any go-to accessory or extra luxury you always put in your kit?
RL: I love my on board TVlogic OLED, it’s a real gift to have a relatively color-accurate OLED in a form factor that can be on camera, as when I’m also operating I don’t get to a 17″ that often. Everything else is really up to the package my 1AC thinks is best, based on conversations we have in prep. I never worked as an AC, so I try to be pretty deferential to how they like to build camera and work. I like the camera to be as simple and invisible a tool as possible, and I rely on my AC to tell me how they like to acheive that end.

cinema5D: Talk a little about your approach to the lighting specific to this film. Any particular challenges?
RL:  I had two concerns in this film from a lighting standpoint. My first concern was wanting to keep an illusion of moonlight for as much of the film as possible, both interiors and exteriors. We had a beautiful location, but if we couldn’t get exposure on the trees and grounds surrounding the house, we’d never have any life out the windows, and I thought a good deal of the visual interest would be lost. I wanted to be able to motivate light in the exteriors that wasn’t just tungsten wash from the house. Moonlight gave me some freedom to get characters away from buildings and out into the lake:  have moments feel private and secluded.

cinema5D: How did you produce the moonlight?
RL: Unfortunately, the driveway to the house was undrivable for a condor, so my G&E team had to work almost exclusively from different sections of the roof on the house, a logistical nightmare that they managed brilliantly every single night.

cinema5D:  Roof crew!  What was the second challenge?
RL: The second challenge was finding two different looks for the film that were distinct enough to visually match the different emotional arcs, while still having enough of a blend to feel as if they were part of the same film.

cinema5D:  What were the two different looks?
RL: Part 1 of the film needed to feel glamorous while also feeling practical-lit.  It also includes some very long, complex scenes. In one case, a fifteen-page scene amongst three characters  needed to be blocked and shot out in a single 8 or 9 hour night. Relighting in those situations had to be almost immediate. The blocking was loose enough that we couldn’t rely on hitting the same marks each time. It required a lot of subtlety and creativity, and my team were incredible for pulling it off

Part 2 was a verité shoot, again incorporating some really long choreographed sequences. Numerous spots in the film required lighting 3 floors of the house simultaneously, with a mix of units that needed to feel practical in some places, and then like film lights in others…in some moments like moonlight, and at times work for 360-degree shooting.

Throughout the shoot, I was impressed with my gaffer Derek’s ability to modulate lighting within these long scenes, running dimmers and using mobile units to keep the shape on faces, all while maintaining the moody, dim feel throughout.

cinema5D: After all of that, you probably want to protect the image as much as possible.  Do you negotiate involvement in post into your contract? What was your involvement in the color process?
RL: I’m getting better about this. Colorists are such an essential part of the creative process, and it is a real make or break decision for a film. More and more I think that keeping budget for a great colorist is an essential choice for a DP, even if it means being short somewhere else on set.  In this case, I fought from the day I was hired to have the best colorist around, the lovely Kath Raisch. We got her, and I was happy.I am contractually obligated to be involved in post, yes, and my experiences with Kath make me want to do what I can to keep her involved in films going forward.

What’s your take on where cinematography is heading? Has the bar been raised or are we getting bogged down by the overturn of new tech?

RL:  I honestly get pretty bored talking about tech at this point. Manufacturers have a good reason to try to position every new piece of technology as a “game-changer,” but I think that the work of a cinematographer has remained unchanged for a very long time. There is, of course, a requirement of technical proficiency that is demanded of cinematographers, but we also have a lot of support around who can help us get a handle on that stuff. DIT’s, Gaffers, AC’s, Post-Houses. We are pretty seldom alone in these decisions. The one place where we are frequently alone is in trying to find an appropriate and beautiful visual world for a well-written script. I try, in my life and work, to get ever more aware of the emotional, psychological, and narrative elements of our work.  I think that developing those capacities is the key to making beautiful and successful films. I only want the tech to disappear more and more, and I think that with the right mindset that’s entirely doable.

cinema5D:  What’s your advice to ACs, operators, and younger cinematographers who are trying to level up their careers?

Finding the balance of humility and confidence is really hard when you’re trying to make lovely things. The movies that I find visually stunning are generally made by people with decades of experience, working with brilliant crews at the top of their game, in marvelous locations, with quite a bit of time.

I think it’s important to be a little scared, and use that fear to motivate the endless amount of attention and effort needed to make a work of art in which you can take pride. At the same time, being young and confident (and perhaps a little naive) can also give you the ability to pursue really novel and wild things that somebody a little older and more experienced might never attempt. Find your vision, stay sensitive to it, and pursue it bravely.

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Between Reality and Surreality

Between Reality and Surreality

Tate Modern

Tate Modern’s retrospective on the much-overlooked surrealist pioneer Dora Maar shines a light on a radical and experimental vision that stretched across different genres and mediums.

It is not startlingly unusual for the achievements of a woman artist to be eclipsed, and rendered an adjunct, by her male partner. Think Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera; Lee Miller and Man Ray; or Gabriele Münter and Wassily Kandinsky. For any such list, Dora Maar (whose intimate time with Pablo Picasso amounted to only eight of her eighty nine years) is a top contender.

Maar was a shapeshifting artist of many talents with wide-ranging interests across mediums. She trained to be a painter but, both before and after her involvement in the surrealism movement, she became more interested in photography. Under the influence of Picasso, who in turn she influenced, Maar returned to painting and then, in her later years, returned to photography.

Untitled c. 1933.
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Richard and Ronay Menschel Fund for the Acquisition of Photographs © Dora Maar/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019

Henriette Theodora Markovitch was born in 1907. By 1932 she had adopted the pseudonym Dora Maar. The first public shows dedicated to her work did not take place until the early years of the twenty-first century. The current exhibition at Tate Modern in London has travelled from the Centre Pompidou and, after finishing in March 2020, will move on to the J. Paul Getty Museum in California.

Maar’s claim to fame as Picasso’s ‘muse’ and merely footnoted identity as a photographer is counteracted by the display of 26 portraits and self-portraits of her in the first room of the exhibition. Now we know what she looked like before her seminal meeting with Picasso.

Throughout the 1930s, as the second room of the exhibition shows, Maar worked for magazines and books, in fashion, advertising and portraiture for private individuals. The aesthetics of photography’s different genres were not self-policed and such a catholicism allowed Maar to freely move in a no-man’s-land bordered by reality on one side and surreality on the other.

Installation view of “Dora Maar”

By the 1930s, the photographic nude had attained a measure of artistic respectability in some publications but Maar produced portraits of the model Assia Granatouroff with a degree of daring eroticism that also earned them a place alongside titillating texts in trite fantasy magazines. The male gaze was duly satisfied but the photos stand in their own right as classical images of feminine beauty and not merely as sexist signifiers of a woman’s body. Maar’s cutting-edge play with photomontage draws on graphic design as she works on negatives, scratching, painting and combining them to dramatic and subversive effects. In Les années vous guettent (The years lie in wait for you), for instance, she joins a negative of a spiderweb with one of a woman’s face for an anti-ageing cream advertisement.

The years lie in wait for you c. 1935
.
The William Talbott Hillman Collection
© Dora Maar/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019

A chic commercial photographer to some, Maar was also receptive to left-wing currents stirring the fermentable politics of the 1930s. Like Bill Brandt, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray, she was drawn to politically vibrant Spain and in 1933 she travelled to the country. The exhibition’s third room, entitled ‘On the Street’, signals one of those signature gear changes that mark her career: in Spain she becomes a street photographer. Comfortable with the contingent—she snaps laughing women at a charcuterie stall with their arms held up while cooked meats hang down around them—and showing empathy for the disadvantaged, she continues in a compassionate vein on the streets of London when she goes there the following year.

Back in Paris, Marr’s exposure to the ideas of surrealism and its tropes affects her street photographs of the city: angled viewpoints, spatial discontinuities—the ‘everyday strange’ as the fourth room of the exhibition puts it. “Nothing is as surreal as reality itself” claimed her friend Brassaï and Surrealism’s influence on Maar deserves the room devoted to it in the exhibition. Her photomontages of this period, using techniques honed in her earlier commercial work, range from the playful to the provocative.

Portrait of Ubu 1936.
Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris.
Photo © Dora Maar/Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI / P. Migeat / Dist. RMN-GP
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019

An ambiance of the oneiric pervades many of them, redolent of Freudianism; others remain enigmatic and some, like the photomontage showing a disembodied pair of female legs floating above the Seine, bring to mind one of Theodor Adorno’s observations about surrealism’s montages—though he seems to have been unaware of Maar’s photographic ones. They are not images of “something inward,” he wrote, “rather, they are fetishes—commodity fetishes—on which something subjective, libido, was once fixed.” Maar’s receptiveness to the incongruous and the unexpected reaches an apogee of sorts with the nightmarish close-up Portrait d’Ubu, thought to be an armadillo foetus.

In the winter of 1935–6, Maar met Picasso and what follows is another change of direction in her artistic career. Her interest in street photography declines as Picasso encourages her to paint and Maar herself becomes the model for his well-known Weeping Woman. A psychological crisis follows her break with Picasso and her cubist-style paintings give way to more abstract work. In her later years, she experiments with camera-less photography.

The Conversation 1937.
Fundación Almine y Bernard Ruiz-Picasso para el Arte, Madrid © Dora Maar/FABA Photo : Marc Domage 
© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2019

Coming to the end of the exhibition, my companion expressed the view that Picasso’s influence was detrimental to Maar and it is hard not to feel that the heady mix of the unsettling and the compassionate that characterizes her photography is not so evident in her paintings.

The career of Dora Maar is not as well known as it should be and this reparative retrospective triumphantly rescues her from relative obscurity. It establishes her importance as an artist of the avant-garde, very much one of her time, and a case could be made for reading the accompanying book from Tate Publishing before an actual visit. Its essays give granular attention to Maar’s remarkable photographs and there are enough fine reproductions of them to help keep her legacy an enduring one.

Editor’s note: Dora Maar is on at Tate Modern in London until March 15. From April 21 to July 26 it will be at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Enjoy more great photography:

Fujifilm XC 35mm F2 vs XF 35mm F2 sample gallery (DPReview TV)

In their latest video, Chris and Jordan from DPReview TV compared Fujifilm’s inexpensive XC 35mm F2 lens with the more durable XF 35mm F2 R WR that costs twice as much.

In this gallery above you’ll see some of the comparison photos they took with each lens, with the XC version coming first.

View sample gallery

Watch DPReview TV’s Fujifilm
35mm F2 lens comparison video

DPReview TV: Fujifilm 35mm XC vs XF. Same performance for half the price?

The Fujifilm XC 35mm F2 prime lens has the same optical formula as the company’s XF 35mm F2 WR prime but costs half as much. How can this be? Chris and Jordan explain the differences.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

Want to make your own side-by-side comparisons between the two lenses? All the photos from this episode (and more) are in the sample gallery below.

Sample gallery from this episode

Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2X Macro APO lens

Venus Optics has announced the Laowa 65mm f/2.8 2X macro lens which has a 2:1 magnification and invisible CA for APS-C sensors. Unlike other 65mm macro lenses which magnify up to 1:1, the new lens from Laowa can focus at 2:1 magnification. The lens is comprised of 14 elements in 19 groups with 3 extra-low … Continued

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Sundance 2020: Adobe Announces Productions, A New Feature Set For Premiere Pro

Making a movie is always a group project, whether the credits at the end of the film include just a handful of names or a cast of thousands…or tens of thousands. In this digital age, it means you’ll have a team, or more likely, many teams that need access to footage, music, still images as well as all the many other documents and files. But access can get messy, and dangerous, since files can be accessed then lost or overwritten. Or teams can create copies that can confuse everyone.

Teams need access and to be in sync, but they also must collaborate efficiently and securely

That’s my guess on why Adobe chose to unveil Productions, a new feature set in its Premiere Pro software, during this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Chances are nearly every cinematographer, content creator, editor, DP and director at this year’s festival has dealt with the dark side of a digital products. Namely, chaos.  

Adobe says that the Productions feature set, which will soon be included in Premiere Pro, was designed to help production teams “work more collaboratively and manage projects more efficiently…whether you’re working on your own or collaborating with a team. ” In fact, Adobe says Productions was designed “with input from top Hollywood filmmakers and editorial teams, including those behind ‘Terminator: Dark Fate,’ ‘Dolemite is My Name,’ and David Fincher’s upcoming film ‘MANK.’” It’s Adobe’s way, the company says, to ensure that the feature set will meet the real-world needs of today’s filmmakers

Adobe says Productions maintains a 1:1 relationship with your OS folder structure, syncing changes both ways.

Here are some of the key aspects of the new feature set:    

  • Manage complex projects: Productions lets you divide them into smaller pieces. For instance, an editorial team might organize their workflow around reels and scenes, while an agency might set up a workflow based on each client, allowing quick reference and access to relevant assets from the projects that relate to specific clients. Or, an episodic show could be grouped by season, providing access to assets like title sequences or audio elements.
  • Efficient, organized and synchronized: Productions lets you re-use assets without creating duplicates, keeping individual projects light and fast. Adobe says it will use the new Production panel in Premiere Pro to provide “a command center for managing multi-project workflows.” Adobe says that this allows you to add any project, and it will become part of the project. “Whether you are working on macOS or Windows, any changes you make on disk are reflected in Premiere Pro; changes in Premiere Pro are applied on disk.” Adobe says “keeps everything in sync.
  • Designed for collaboration: Although we haven’t had a chance to use the feature set yet, one keep element appears to be “Project Locking,” which “ensures that no one overwrites your work. Adobe says others can access your project and copy content from it, “but they can’t make changes until you’ve completed your edit.”

 

 

Adobe also says that it means that “multiple editors can work on different projects in the same production using shared local storage.” That’s because all projects in a production “share the same settings, including scratch disks, GPU renderer, capture and ingest settings. This provides the advantage of shared preview render files: a sequence rendered by one editor is available for all others on that project, ensuring smooth playback and time-savings for the whole team.” It also allows you to see who’s working on what so you and your team can track your progress.

Additionally, Adobe says Productions gives you control of your content. “Your projects and assets can live entirely on your local storage. Nothing is on the cloud unless you put it there. If needed, you can do all your work without an internet connection.”

We’ll be sure to review how well this feature lives up to this launch when it’s included in Premiere Pro—although we don’t yet know exactly when that will be since Adobe simply stated that the feature is “coming soon.”

The Productions panel and finder in Adobe Premiere Pro.

 

 

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