Since Margaret Bourke-White is the featured artist for the Artist Spotlight this month, I thought it would be fun to see if any movies have been made about her. I found a 1980's era television movie, starring Farrah Fawcett; BUT, since it is only available on VHS tape, I chose a "runner-up". I thought I would share a movie about a female war photographer which might tie-in nicely with our Margaret Burke-White "theme" this month.Read More
Our Artist Spotlight this month is Richard Avedon. As I began reading more about him, I found several references and articles about his connection to the 1957 movie, “Funny Face”. Surprised? So was I.
It has been a long time since I watched the movie that starred a very young Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, Kay Thompson, and a bevy of Hubert de Givenchy designed costumes. But, that is a whole blog post in and of itself. Let’s talk about the Avedon “connection”, shall we? You know how I compile trivia lists for you as my contribution to your “cocktail party conversation” repertoire, well here you go:Read More
Recently, one photography instructor suggested watching the 1941 movie classic Citizen Kane, starring Orsen Welles, for lighting inspiration. I think photographers are often inspired by movies for lighting and post-processing ideas. I can't speak for cinematographers, but I would like to think they are inspired by still photography too.
I watched Citizen Kane several years ago but re-watching it now as a study in lighting gave me a completely different appreciation. For the most part, the movie was low-key (predominately dark tones to create a dramatic effect). Many of the scenes were captured with the characters in silhouette, which I'm sure was, in part, to draw attention to the dialogue rather than them as subjects. But, as I began studying where the light sources were positioned and how the characters moved in and out of the light, I began to consider if there was some symbolism to the lighting. All of these questions... What's a viewer to do but search the internet for some answers... or maybe more questions.
Here are some observations from my internet search I thought would be fun to share.
- Charles Kane (Orsen Welles) character was almost always captured in high-key lighting. High-key lighting is light and bright as opposed to the low-key lighting we discussed above. While this highlighted (no pun intended) Kane as the main focus of the story, it is interesting to note that the flashbacks to his childhood were not filmed with the low-key lighting like the rest of the film. Is that meaningful? Yes. I think so too. I am currently working on a series where I am planning to employ the high-key and low-key lighting as an underlying message, so this was a validation of my plan.
- The film is credited with making significant contributions to cinematography, one of which was the use of "deep focus". I was not familiar with the term, but it is when the whole scene is in focus. When I read about this, it made me think of the group of landscape photographers calling themselves the Group f64. The group was founded by Ansel Adams and the reference to the aperture, f64, is understood by photographers who want to get the whole scene in focus. Today, we take for granted the change of aperture to achieve the desired effect, but apparently, this was relatively new territory back in the day. Doesn't that make you appreciate your camera now?
Those are just a few bits of trivia to look for if you decide to watch, or re-watch, Citizen Kane. Most of all, just notice the richness of tonal values achieved from the lighting and enjoy the movie. I would love to hear what you think about the lighting. What scene had the most impactful lighting for you?
Yesterday was Vivian Maier's birthday. I admit that I had no knowledge of Ms. Maier, or her work until I watched the documentary, Finding Vivian Maier. I watched the documentary during a long airplane flight a few years ago while searching the "in flight" selections to pass the time. Maier was never the subject of any art history courses I was enrolled in, books I read, images I explored in galleries, museums, or online, so finding a "new" photographer piqued my interest. I slipped on my earbuds and listened to her story, told through third-party eyes, which unfolded for the next hour (plus a few minutes). The story was so intriguing to me that I re-watched the documentary on the return flight. Here are just a few reasons why I found it worthy of recommending.
First, I found it to be a cautionary tale for me, personally, for these reasons:
I am guilty of not printing my work now that I am embracing digital photography. There are many, many, many reasons to print a physical print of your photograph (which is a blog post in and of itself), but her story illustrates the importance of you, as the artist, being in control of your own artistic vision; and
It is the perfect illustration, for me, that perfectionism robs you of completion. She did the work. Apparently, used her camera regularly, possibly even daily, as we are so often taught to do, and yet, the next step, or steps, were never taken to complete the process.
Secondly, the whole story had me vacillating between being grateful that someone saw the value in her work and found it worthy of "saving", to the opposite feeling that she should have had control of her work, why didn't she exhibit it herself with her own vision and specifications, and many feeling in between.
It also reminded me that I have an old camera that belonged to my grandmother. Soon after I inherited the camera, I discovered that there was a roll of film loaded with a few remaining exposures. When I shared my discovery, a family member excitedly asked if I planned to develop the film. Without hesitation, my answer was, No! There were shocked faces in the room so I felt the need to explain that I loved the mystery of imagining what moments were etched on the film that was probably 30 years old at the time. My choice was to allow those unprocessed images to challenge my imagination. But, that exchange made me realize that there are differing opinions.
I have always loved old movies. The television stations would run these old flicks late at night and, as a child, I would stay up late just to watch old movies by myself on weekends and summers. I discovered all kinds of gems from To Kill A Mockingbird to The Bridge on the River Kwai and everything in between. Since my childhood, I have been fortunate enough to see some of these films on the "big screen", as they were intended. One of the most dramatic differences of big screen viewing, for me, has to be Lawrence of Arabia. I had a chance to see it at the Lensic when we were visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico one Christmas holiday. I have to say that it was even more impressive to watch it that way. I picked up on details that are lost on the "small" screen. I think everyone should have the opportunity to see it this way, at least once, to truly appreciate the movie.Read More