Nikon Bans Film in its Annual Photography contest… Again.

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The Nikon Photo Contest has been running annually since 1969. Even with roots that go back, however, the company isn’t afraid to move on and not look back. With the announcement for this year’s contest also came news that Nikon is banning film photography again.

That’s right. Again. I’d tell you that there’s old vintage Nikon cameras out there right now going “Et tu, Brute?” to the news, but apparently the company’s had this rule for a while now in the contest’s past few yearly runs; there’s absolutely no scans of film pictures allowed in entry.

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Godzilla: The Cinematography of Seamus McGarvey

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“I think people just see cinematography as being about photography and innovative shots and beautiful lighting. We all want our movies to look great visually, to be beguiling and enticing, but I think that what really defines a great cinematographer is one who loves story.” – Seamus McGarvey, IFTN

Seamus McGarvey was contacted by an executive producer he had recently worked with on The Avengers; she told him about a project she had been involved with, being directed by a guy named Gareth Edwards. Seamus took the time to watch the only other film Gareth had done at that point: an small-budget indie film called Monsters. He was not just impressed by how well the director executed the making of the film while also being in charge of the visual effects and cinematography; he was impressed by the storytelling of the film, as well. For Seamus, it was refreshing to see a monster movie that approached monsters in such a suspenseful manner, like the classics it was so heavily inspired by. The cinematographer signed up and got on board to work with Gareth Edwards on his second project: Godzilla.

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We Built Our Own World: Wally Pfister and the Cinematography of Inception

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In 2010, Christopher Nolan released a film he’d been working on for over half a decade, and the premise of it was something not too long ago thought un-filmable. Titled Inception, the story was held off as a complete secret, and when teaser trailers did release, nobody really understood what they just saw. Wally Pfister, the cinematographer behind the movie, arranged an immediate meeting with Chris after reading the script he was sent, to try and figure out “what the f*ck was going on.”

Wally Pfister has been a collaborator with Christopher Nolan for a long time now, working as a cinematographer for every film of his since 2000′s Memento. Both him and Chris share two significant things in common: their love for naturalism, and their love for shooting in film. And if there’s anyone keeping the medium of film alive in the digitally dominated industry of Hollywood today, it’s these two guys. Their last venture together with The Dark Knight Rises grossed over $1 Billion, and that was accomplished without the film ever being released in 3D; when I say they love naturalism, I mean they love naturalism.

By now, most of us are familiar with the film; it became one of the biggest original stories to top box offices worldwide within the past few years, and it was something new. And with how practical both Chris and Wally are with the way they want things shot, Inception was cinematography at its finest.

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Realism: The Role Photography Plays in CGI on the Big Screen

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A reader brought up an interesting question last Saturday on my weekly cinematography post, this one over Eduardo Serra and his work in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; he asked how much credit a cinematographer can really claim for a shot done in CGI. Another reader answered him correctly in saying that the shots done in CGI are still directed in planning by the cinematographer himself. Basically, the work the animators do depends on the input of the director of photography.

That exchange made me want to write this post today; I’ve been obsessed with science-fiction and fantasy films since I was a kid, and CGI is something that’s impacted the films I grew up with as much as it has for many of us since twenty years ago. But there’s the films that do it well, and then there’s the films that we look back at and cringe in retrospect; remember those atrocious-looking monkeys in Jumanji?

So what sets apart the good CGI from the bad? How do they get it done right? If you’re going to make something look like it could have been right in front of the camera during filming, like it was real, then it would have to follow the same basic rules of photography that everything else in real life would. And what’s possibly the most important part of good photography in the first place? Good lighting.

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Restoring and Digitizing Old Photos Using a Smartphone

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I was going through some old photos of my family overseas. My dad’s kept them in a hard brown briefcase since before I was born, and we decided to find a way for them to be able to be cherished more freely. I wanted to share a few tips I noted down along the way as I was restoring those photos. And you don’t need an elaborate setup. Grab your phones, guys.

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The Konstruktor DIY Camera Super Kit – A Review

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I’ve written before about what shooting film means to me, and I almost always have a film camera in my bag alongside my digital arsenal. I find it relaxing. In many ways it becomes something of a ritual for me. Loading the film. Advancing the frames. Resetting the counter. Taking my time. Doing my best to make every frame count. Don’t even get me started on barricading myself in the darkroom for hours on end. I know that a lot of photographers talk about “making” photos rather than “taking” them, but nothing brings that sentiment home for me more than shooting film. Thankfully, there are legions of photographers out there who still enjoy shooting film– even if just occasionally– which means that there are still companies catering to our need for the film experience. One such company is Lomography, a website dedicated to cameras, films, lenses, and accessories. I recently had the chance to build and test their Konstruktor DIY Kit.

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