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Filmmaking Interview People Photography

Revisiting Gordon Parks

Recently TCM played two of the Gordon Parks films, Shaft (1971) and The Super Cops (1974). Both held up very well and you could see many creative influences they had on other early 70’s movies like Dog Day Afternoon and French Connection.

Among his other talents he also wrote songs and poetry. Like Stanley Kubrick he started as a photographer before becoming a director. That explains the great shots and cinematography in these movies.

While dismissed as “blaxploitation”, I think they should be viewed no differently than other action films of the era like the Dirty Harry or Death Wish series.

Given current events, his films, including The Learning Tree are as relevant today as then.

Below is a link to his Photos and many interesting videos.

Gordon Parks at the  International Center of Photography
https://youtu.be/llwsZ-bu0LE?t=4200
Categories
Music People Photography

Walter Becker

Walter Becker

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan

RIP Walter Becker.

Photos of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan that I took in Las Vegas, 2016.

 

 

Categories
Photography

Jeff Bridges and his Widelux camera

I have always enjoyed Jeff Bridges in films like The Fisher King, both the original Tron and Tron Legacy, as well as the overlooked Lucas/Coppola film Tucker. When I found out he was into Widelux photography I was excited to show some of his photos on my site.

 

tucker
Francis Ford Coppola & George Lucas with a Tucker car

From the New York Times Lens Blog.

Some photographers are drawn to dramatic events in exotic lands. Others are compelled to stay closer to home and burrow into the stories they know best.

The actor Jeff Bridges gets to do both. He photographs the world he grew up in, movie sets — each one a world never seen before. And he earns a little more than your average photographer while doing it.

Since 1984, Mr. Bridges has documented the sets of most of his movies, compiling a large collection of wide images that give an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at movie making.

“My photography is mainly focused on my work making movies, which I’ve done my whole life,” he said in a phone interview. “I think I have a perspective that not many people have. And I get to take advantage of all of the strange sources of light on a set.”

Though Mr. Bridges is better known for his acting roles — The Dude in “The Big Lebowski,” Rooster Cogburn in “True Grit,” Kevin Flynn in the Tron movies — he will receive special recognition tomorrow at the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Awards dinner in New York.


This is not the first time Mr. Bridges has been honored: he has been nominated for six Academy Awards and received an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance as Otis Blake in the 2009 film “Crazy Heart.” But he says it is “wonderful to be recognized by people who love photography.”

Mr. Bridges uses a Widelux camera for almost all of his photos because he says its ultrawide images are close to how the human eye really sees. It’s a quirky camera that allows photographers to emphasize both foreground and background. In the introduction to his book “Pictures,” published in 2003, Mr. Bridges wrote about his favorite camera:

The Widelux is a fickle mistress; its viewfinder isn’t accurate, and there’s no manual focus, so it has an arbitrariness to it, a capricious quality. I like that. It’s something I aspire to in all my work — a lack of preciousness that makes things more human and honest, a willingness to receive what’s there in the moment and to let go of the result. Getting out of the way seems to be one of the main tasks for me as an artist.

The Widelux has a lens mounted on a moving turret. As the lens moves, a slit shutter sweeps across a wide plane of film, creating a sometimes blurry cinematic effect. It can take two and a half seconds for a normal exposure (at one-fifteenth of a second). This gives the photographer less control of the result, because when one starts taking a picture, it is hard to know exactly what will happen two seconds in the future on the far side of the frame.

“I look at the camera as sort of a missing link between motion picture photography and still photography,” Mr. Bridges said.

Photography is different from movie making because it is more of a solitary endeavor, even when one is photographing a lot of people. But in both disciplines, the product doesn’t always turn out as expected.

“You show up, you practice, you have as much technique that you can bring, and then the reality has much to give to the experience,” Mr. Bridges said. “That’s what makes it such a joy to look at the contact sheets. You see what you thought you had and you did, and what you didn’t think you had and you got, and that’s very similar to making movies.”

Mr. Bridges has acted professionally since he was a young child, when he appeared with his father, Lloyd Bridges, star of the television series “Sea Hunt,” on that show. While attending high school in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, he built a home darkroom in a bathroom and fell in love with black-and-white printing. As his acting career took off, he left photography behind — until he appeared in the 1976 remake of “King Kong,” in which he played an paleontologist who always carried a camera. That rekindled his interest, and after his wife bought him a Widelux, he brought it to the set of “Starman” in 1984.

His co-star Karen Allen suggested they make a book of photos for the cast, and for almost every film he has been in since then, Mr. Bridges has made a special, limited-edition book for the cast and crew.

His purchasable collection, “Pictures,” was published by PowerHouse Books, and he donates the proceeds — including from sales of individual prints — to the Motion Picture and Television Fund and several organizations that fight hunger in the United States.

At times, his photographs form a visually refined family album that includes his father; his brother, the actor Beau Bridges; and his fellow actors. They provide a behind-the-scenes view of movie making and sometimes resemble early silent slapstick shorts more than they do fine art films.

Mr. Bridges revels in using the Widelux’s long exposure time to take in-camera photos of his acting friends (Slide 12 and above) making comedic and tragic faces. During a single exposure, they run from one end of the frame to the other and pose goofily for the camera.

He wants to publish a book of his newer images and intends to continue photographing the sets of his movies.

So, Mr. Bridges will abide. You can take comfort in that.

 

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Above photo set from Fstoppers.

The Widelux his wife had given to him barely leaves his side, as you will notice in these rare black-and-white photographs from behind the scenes of some of his movies. Co-star cameos, interesting anecdotes, and filmmaking secrets are revealed in his galleries which have also been published into a photo book, Jeff Bridges: Pictures.

Panoramic photos by Jeff Bridges while on the sets of _Crazy Heart_, _Iron Man_, _True Grit_, _TRON: Legacy_, and The Amateurs._

“The Wide-Lux is a fickle mistress; its viewfinder isn’t accurate, and there’s no manual.”

Visit Jeff Bridges for more info. Sources include IMDB and Wikipedia.

From Lomography.

Categories
Cinematography Filmmaking Photography

IN GLORIOUS TECHNICOLOR

Founded in 1915, the Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation transformed cinema forever with its revolutionary color processes. George Eastman House marks this important centennial with the exhibition In Glorious Technicolor, on view January 24 through April 26, 2015 in the special exhibition galleries.

The exhibition celebrates Technicolor’s vivid history, from the company’s early years through the making of such classics of the Hollywood studio era as The Wizard of Oz (1939), Gone With the Wind (1939), and Singin’ in the Rain (1952). Technicolor’s wide-ranging impact on the form and content of cinema is explored through original artifacts from the Technicolor Corporate Archive, projected video clips, and a range of stunning visual displays.

Highlights include the company’s evolving camera technology, from its early two-color camera from the 1920s to the massive Technirama widescreen system of the 1950s. Original costumes, production designs, posters, and photographs document how color was used creatively and presented to the public, while the vibrant dyes used to create Technicolor’s incomparable “look” shed light on the science behind the process. Rare tests from Douglas Fairbanks’s The Black Pirate (1926), behind-the-scenes stills from the Errol Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), and home movies from the set of The African Queen (1951) reveal the stars and filmmakers most associated with color. Additionally, the exhibition honors the achievements of Academy Award–winning cinematographers Ray Rennahan and Jack Cardiff, as well as Technicolor’s often overlooked engineers, whose work remained largely out of the limelight.

In_Glorious_Technicolor_055

To complement the gallery exhibition, the Dryden Theatre is presenting a four-month series of Technicolor films, including some original Technicolor prints.

Categories
Books Filmmaking Interview People Photography

Peter Bogdanovich Interviews Orson Welles (Audio)

More on photographer Bob Willoughby here

In the late ’60s and early ’70s, filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich had conducted extensive interviews with Welles, but a number of circumstances–including the director’s decision to compose an autobiography that he never got around to writing–kept the interviews out of the public eye. Finally edited and annotated by Jonathan Rosenbaum, these conversations give wonderful insights into Welles’s craft and personality. He discusses his forays into acting, producing, and writing as well as directing, his confidences and insecurities, and his plans for film projects that were either never made or only partially completed.

Buy the book here.

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Part 3

 

Part 4

 

Part 5

 

Part 6

 

Part 7

 

Part 8

 

 

Categories
Photography

Photo from World’s Largest Pinhole Camera on Display at the National Air and Space Museum

“The Great Picture” is a unique camera obscura black-and-white, gelatin silver, photograph 31 feet high and 107 feet wide.

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will exhibit “The Great Picture” at its Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., beginning this spring. The 3,375-square-foot photograph of an abandoned Marine Corps air station in Southern California was taken by the largest pinhole camera in the world. Visitors can see the photograph from April 26 through November.

“The Great Picture” is a unique camera obscura black-and-white, gelatin silver, photograph 31 feet high and 107 feet wide. This single mammoth photograph was created in 2006 by a group of six artists—Jerry Burchfield, Mark Chamberlain, Jacques Garnier, Rob Johnson, Douglas McCulloh, and Clayton Spada—along with hundreds of volunteers. They transformed the abandoned F/A-18 fighter jet hangar into a gigantic pinhole camera by darkening and sealing the interior from outside light. A pinhole just under a quarter-inch in diameter was centered between the metal hangar doors to serve as the camera’s aperture. While this particular pinhole camera was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest, the “camera-obscura” technique has been known for more than 2,000 years.

Established in 1942, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Southern California became the largest Marine air station on the West Coast and headquarters for Marine air operations in the Pacific region during and after World War II. All U.S. presidents in the postwar era landed in Air Force One at El Toro before it was decommissioned in 1999. “The Great Picture” shows the air station’s control tower, other structures and runways, and the San Joaquin Hills in the background.

“‘The Great Picture,’ as a photograph, is distinct from almost every photograph in the world,” said artist Douglas McCulloh. “It remains linked to, and an integral part of, both the camera and the place by containing the information of the place within it. It also contains the process….You can’t look at it and not ask—what was the camera?”

Visitors will have a chance to meet and speak with one of the artists at the Udvar-Hazy Center Saturday, April 26, 1–3 p.m. Jacques Garnier will sign copies of The Great Picture: Making the World’s Largest Photograph, a book that documents the techniques used during this creative process.

Click here for more info.

Positive (reversed) image of The Great Picture
Positive (reversed) image of The Great Picture

If you want to take pinhole pictures, you can build one yourself or you can also get a Viddy or a Videre.

Viddy is a do-it-yourself pinhole camera kit.

Introducing VIDDY, our latest do-it-yourself pinhole camera kit! from The Pop-Up Pinhole Co. on Vimeo.

Categories
Cinematography Photography Technology

Game of Drones. John Bailey ASC on drone safety.

Above: a photo I took of a drone at Cine Gear Expo 2012.

Recently, I had a post that included spectacular footage of a fireworks show shot from a drone. The increase use of drones with GoPros has become both a safety and personal privacy headache.

The Seattle Police Department recently spoke with an Amazon employee who flew a drone too close to the Space Needle.

DJI has a new system called Dropsafe, drones that deploy parachutes.

From the IEEE Spectrum

According to the Hollywood Reporter there is now a new organization called the Society of Aerial Cinematographers, prompted by the increase of drone use in movie and television production.

John Bailey ASC, on his blog post called Drones, Drones, Drones, explains the many safety issues and FAA regulations about using camera drones.

…Thornier yet are certain looming questions of privacy rights, sexual “Peeping Tom” infringements, aural and visual harassments by drones buzzing around in public spaces, and the very real danger posed by malfunctioning, mis-piloted or mis-programmed drones — including higher-altitude (but still amateur) drones that already have nearly caused midair collisions with commercial jets

….I found videos of out-of-the-box amateur drones taking to the air (even as their new owners were still reading instructions) and crashing into high rises in midtown Manhattan, then falling onto the street below, nearly injuring a pedestrian.

…Just like the Steadicam before it, these small 4-rotor and 8-rotor drone helicopters mounted with HD cameras, from GoPros to  Canon 5Ds, are quickly changing the scale of imagery that can be photographed for feature films. Many productions that have been unable to afford traditional piloted helicopters with sophisticated camera-stabilizing systems can now engage a two-person ground-based crew of pilot and operator to shoot sweeping images that “open up” a film. But that is only a small part of drones’ potential as a new camera system.

Last winter, watching director Nabil Ayouch’s Horses of God, the Moroccan entry for the Academy’s foreign-film Oscar, I saw a shot that took my breath away. A group of boys are playing on a dirt soccer pitch in the Casablanca slum of Sidi Moumen. Everything is photographed at ground level, with long-lens panning shots intercut with wider-angle close coverage on the Steadicam to build up the action sequence. A very low-angle shot then follows several boys chasing the ball — and suddenly sweeps past them, rising above their heads to reveal the intricate warren of passageways in the slum beyond. The camera continues up higher for an overview of the slum and of downtown Casablanca. It is a stunning moment because it comes at the end of an eye-level sequence. It also sets up the disjunction between these still innocent, poor children playing soccer in a trash-ridden, dusty lot—- with the indifferent modern city nearby. The film climaxes with a sequence set years later, in May 2003, when these same boys, now trained suicide bombers, simultaneously blow up several buildings in downtown Casablanca, killing themselves and 33 people. This single camera move, made with a small HD camera on a drone, set up the visual and narrative flow for the rest of the film.

Here is the trailer. There are several brief cuts of the boys on the pitch early on, and a very brief overhead drone shot tracking though the slum at 0.44:

Categories
Cinematography Photography Technology

Fireworks filmed with a drone.

UPDATE: It is illegal to do this.