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"Hollywood Lighting" by Patrick Keating

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Hollywood Lighting by Patrick Keating

 

I'm almost finished with this academic book, something I picked up last weekend in the bookstore of the Museum of the Moving Image when I saw "2001".

 

It's not a lighting textbook but more of a film theory book, somewhere halfway between the technical discussion of Barry Salt's "Film Style & Technology" (a must-read!) and the books of Bordwell and Thompson. Keating read a lot of the magazines of the 20's-40's, especially "American Cinematographer", to discuss the lighting approaches that developed from the beginning of film. His emphasis is on the conflict or synergy between expressiveness and invisibility of style, and how that relates to storytelling, whether style is subservient to storytelling or whether it is a vital tool of storytelling, and how cinematographers developed rules and conventions for lighting while promoting the notion of cinematography as an art form (and themselves as artists rather than technicians.) One point that Keating makes is that the conventions didn't necessarily lead to a bland homogenous look for classic movies because they were conventions of differentialities, i.e. the convention that you couldn't light a bar scene the same way as a bedroom scene, or a murder scene the same way as a love scene, etc. He also discusses how all of this sometime conflicted with the studio mandate for glamour no matter what, as opposed to glamour in support of a narrative.

 

The funny thing is that all of these conflicts still exist today, despite the supposedly more realistic look of modern films.

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One interesting part of the book describes two different types of Hollywood cinematographers -- while they all agreed on the principles established (style in support of story, realism, technical quality, need to make actors look good, etc.) they differed in approach... the author describes the two types as "classicists" and "mannerists".

 

Classicists (like WIlliam Daniels, Joseph Walker, Charles Lang) were committed to the art of balancing all of the competing needs of the cinematography in a movie, to find some sort of happy compromise between, let's say, creating the right mood for the scene and making the star look beautiful. Mannerists (like Gregg Toland, Lee Garmes, John Alton, Leon Shamroy) were more likely push one stylistic aspect or need at the expense of the others -- they might sacrifice realism in pursuit of more glamour, or vice-versa, or go for pictorial effects at the expense of realism -- Keating breaks the mannerists further into descriptors like hyper-realists, expressivists, and pictorialists.

 

It's similar to a breakdown that I often employ to describe many modern cinematographers, the realists (or naturalists) and the impressionists (though to be more accurate, the post-impressionists... since impressionists actually were quite realistic in their portrayal of natural lighting effects). Obviously the same DP may hop back and forth depending on the project, but overall there is a consistent aesthetic they tend to pursue. Sometimes I also think of it as the realism versus theatricalism, the naturalistic versus the operatic. Roger Deakins and Gordon Willis come to mind as realists though that hasn't kept them from creating more stylized projects (the blurry vignetting in "Assassination of Jesse James" comes to mind, or the manipulated colors in "O Brother Where Art Thou?") -- and I tend to put Storaro, Richardson, and Kaminski in the group that favors theatrical effects, though again, all of them have done highly naturalistic work too that uses a lot of available light ("Snow Falling on Cedars" for example).

 

In fact, I just came back from a 35mm print screening of "One From the Heart" at the Museum of the Moving Image today... obviously that movie is famous for being highly stylized, being all shot on sound stages with painted backdrops. But many interiors are just lit by practical lamps and/or through windows, with no additional key lights added, throwing the actors constantly in near silhouette against these sources in the room -- Storaro doesn't just add some nice soft key light to make sure we can always see their faces. To some degree, I think this approach came out of his work with Bertolucci, who often moved his camera freely through a room, forcing Storaro to light through windows and from practicals, or from some big source quite far away like for night work. So it feels simultaneously theatrical (colored lights fading up and down through windows, along with practical lamps fading up or down) and yet naturalistic (actors lit by sources in the frame rather than one's just off-camera there for no other reason than to see their faces nicely).

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Sounds really interesting David. What's the name of the book? Did I miss it on your post?

This is a subject that has always interest me, would love to read more about it.

Thanks

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Fascinating stuff. I really have to read that book. I envy you having seen "One From the Heart" on the big screen projected from a 35mm print! It must have been beautiful. This is one of the things I miss about not living in L.A. anymore. Well, maybe things will change and I'll become bi-coastal...that is if you consider the Rio Grande as one of the coasts (yes I stole and paraphrased that line from "Waiting For Guffman" :D )

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Sounds really interesting David. What's the name of the book? Did I miss it on your post?

This is a subject that has always interest me, would love to read more about it.

Thanks

"Hollywood Lighting" by Patrick Keating it's in the topic title. :rolleyes:

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One interesting part of the book describes two different types of Hollywood cinematographers -- while they all agreed on the principles established (style in support of story, realism, technical quality, need to make actors look good, etc.) they differed in approach... the author describes the two types as "classicists" and "mannerists".

 

Classicists (like WIlliam Daniels, Joseph Walker, Charles Lang) were committed to the art of balancing all of the competing needs of the cinematography in a movie, to find some sort of happy compromise between, let's say, creating the right mood for the scene and making the star look beautiful. Mannerists (like Gregg Toland, Lee Garmes, John Alton, Leon Shamroy) were more likely push one stylistic aspect or need at the expense of the others -- they might sacrifice realism in pursuit of more glamour, or vice-versa, or go for pictorial effects at the expense of realism -- Keating breaks the mannerists further into descriptors like hyper-realists, expressivists, and pictorialists.

 

It's similar to a breakdown that I often employ to describe many modern cinematographers, the realists (or naturalists) and the impressionists (though to be more accurate, the post-impressionists... since impressionists actually were quite realistic in their portrayal of natural lighting effects). Obviously the same DP may hop back and forth depending on the project, but overall there is a consistent aesthetic they tend to pursue. Sometimes I also think of it as the realism versus theatricalism, the naturalistic versus the operatic. Roger Deakins and Gordon Willis come to mind as realists though that hasn't kept them from creating more stylized projects (the blurry vignetting in "Assassination of Jesse James" comes to mind, or the manipulated colors in "O Brother Where Art Thou?") -- and I tend to put Storaro, Richardson, and Kaminski in the group that favors theatrical effects, though again, all of them have done highly naturalistic work too that uses a lot of available light ("Snow Falling on Cedars" for example).

 

In fact, I just came back from a 35mm print screening of "One From the Heart" at the Museum of the Moving Image today... obviously that movie is famous for being highly stylized, being all shot on sound stages with painted backdrops. But many interiors are just lit by practical lamps and/or through windows, with no additional key lights added, throwing the actors constantly in near silhouette against these sources in the room -- Storaro doesn't just add some nice soft key light to make sure we can always see their faces. To some degree, I think this approach came out of his work with Bertolucci, who often moved his camera freely through a room, forcing Storaro to light through windows and from practicals, or from some big source quite far away like for night work. So it feels simultaneously theatrical (colored lights fading up and down through windows, along with practical lamps fading up or down) and yet naturalistic (actors lit by sources in the frame rather than one's just off-camera there for no other reason than to see their faces nicely).

 

just picked up a copy, thank you!!!!!!

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David, I just finished this book too. I found it so incredibly inspiring on so many levels, not least of which is its attitude towards classical cinema which does not look down on it from a superior perspective as so many books do when talking about the past. I love for example how he mentions that the lighting in Citizen Kane was striking not because it is more "realistic," as many claim, but because it is more mannered. This is such an important distinction! Reading that book inspired me to read John Alton's book on lighting, which is quoted a lot in the book. One area where I agree with Alton is in the concept of what realism means, which was very different in 1949 than it is today. For example, if someone lights a room without key lights on the actors, that seems like a mannered approach because it doesn't imitate human perception. When you are speaking to someone, even in a dimly lit room, you always perceive them as being bright and clear and sharp because your eyes adjust and pick them out of the background, so having them lit by an extra light is more realistic than letting them recede into the rest of the room light. They used to compensate for the fact that the lens picks up less than the eye by enhancing lights on people.

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It's funny that in the modern world, people in dark bars, restaurants, clubs, or an intimate party tend to naturally move away from lights, sit or stand outside of the light, especially a room with tiny spots of track lighting -- nobody wants to have that blasting on them in an otherwise dark space. And yet often we add a key light of some kind for the actors mainly for two reasons, one is the need to see their performance and have them stand out from the background (though a shallow depth of field can help), and the other might be to be more flattering for the actor. Also, to be moody you need darkness and shadows, so either the background is dark and parts of the foreground subject are lit, or the opposite, the subject is dark but silhouetted against something with a bit of light on it. And again, we often opt for the first because of the desire to see the actor's eyes, or to see the action. Of course, there are examples of great cinematography that break all of these rules.

 

With b&w, there is also the desire to increase dimensionality and separation through tonal values, otherwise the image looks muddy gray. So in some ways, the lighting becomes more theatrical, more complex with light and dark, with edge lights, shadows, etc. to increase the feeling of three dimensions in a two-dimensional medium. In color you have an easier time creating separation with that extra layer of information, and overly complex lighting can now start to seem a bit cluttered.

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Well that's all true. Photographically it's true. But perceptually it's different. For instance, when you are looking at someone you know, they could be in shadow or half in shadow, but your brain registers them as if they are lit, without the distortions shadows make on their faces. You never think of people or remember them the way they truly look, but how your brain idealizes them in good lighting. That's why art students have such a hard time at first drawing light and shade - their mind simplifies objects into their outlines, into idealized simple forms. Classical movie lighting tried to light people the way the brain perceives people; when we're in love for instance we further idealize the features of the beloved, and this is what classical lighting attempted to do with glamour portraits. When we are afraid, we emphasize the shadowy aspects of the scene that frightened us, etc. What I love about classical lighting is that it was psychological rather than objective lighting. It was telling you how to feel, what to focus on, and the lighting cues were as strong as the script cues in this regard. Because the style was so consistent, we would know that a close-up was never going to be random, but signified an important moment in the story, etc. Or, if you had villain lighting you knew to fear the person and think of them as a villain. Lighting used to work like music did in a film, to signal to us how to perceive the vents going on. Take away the soundtrack to any thriller, and the actions onscreen will often lose most or all of their suspense. It's been fashionable for many years or decades now to try to do objective, realistic lighting. In fact, that seems to have been he goal of cinematographers from nearly the beginning, as this book proves, starting in the early '20s. But the lighting you do is going to affect the audience emotionally whether you light it intentionally to produce emotion or not. If you let actors blend into a shadowy background, that is a statement that favors cinematographic reality more than perceptual reality, and this is something that the classical cinematographers meticulously tried to avoid - thus the emphasis on illusionism.

 

In John Alton's book, he talks about how to light interiors: two cross key lights through the window at 45 degree angles, the side walls each lit from the opposite corner, the back wall also lit at an angle and brighter than the side walls, the furniture backlit to give dimension, shadows artificially created on walls, one fill light on either side of the camera, then the people lit with key lights, backlights, kickers. Would you think that this lighting would be appropriate for classical color photography, or would it be an example of cluttered lighting for color?

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Depends on how carefully the color is controlled in the production design and costumes because front light emphasizes color whereas a raking light emphasizes texture. The same hard spotlighting in color can either look like a great 1940's Technicolor movie or a bad 1970's TV show (some of which were shot by DP's who worked in the classic studio system). And that's partly the result of the degree of control over the image.

 

I also find that a hard light creating a hard shadow tends to clue the viewer that there is a light being used while a soft light tends to call less attention to where it might be coming from.

 

Also from a practical standpoint, modern soft lighting allows actors to miss marks and for the blocking to be altered between takes or extra coverage added more quickly than a precise style where each mark gets a spot, each piece of furniture gets a spot, etc.

 

But old movies did less coverage so you weren't trying to get so many set-ups in a day.

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First of great thread...some really interesting stuff said here!

 

Well that's all true. Photographically it's true. But perceptually it's different. For instance, when you are looking at someone you know, they could be in shadow or half in shadow, but your brain registers them as if they are lit, without the distortions shadows make on their faces. You never think of people or remember them the way they truly look, but how your brain idealizes them in good lighting. That's why art students have such a hard time at first drawing light and shade - their mind simplifies objects into their outlines, into idealized simple forms. Classical movie lighting tried to light people the way the brain perceives people; when we're in love for instance we further idealize the features of the beloved, and this is what classical lighting attempted to do with glamour portraits. When we are afraid, we emphasize the shadowy aspects of the scene that frightened us, etc. What I love about classical lighting is that it was psychological rather than objective lighting. It was telling you how to feel, what to focus on, and the lighting cues were as strong as the script cues in this regard. Because the style was so consistent, we would know that a close-up was never going to be random, but signified an important moment in the story, etc. Or, if you had villain lighting you knew to fear the person and think of them as a villain. Lighting used to work like music did in a film, to signal to us how to perceive the vents going on. Take away the soundtrack to any thriller, and the actions onscreen will often lose most or all of their suspense. It's been fashionable for many years or decades now to try to do objective, realistic lighting. In fact, that seems to have been he goal of cinematographers from nearly the beginning, as this book proves, starting in the early '20s. But the lighting you do is going to affect the audience emotionally whether you light it intentionally to produce emotion or not. If you let actors blend into a shadowy background, that is a statement that favors cinematographic reality more than perceptual reality, and this is something that the classical cinematographers meticulously tried to avoid - thus the emphasis on illusionism.

 

In John Alton's book, he talks about how to light interiors: two cross key lights through the window at 45 degree angles, the side walls each lit from the opposite corner, the back wall also lit at an angle and brighter than the side walls, the furniture backlit to give dimension, shadows artificially created on walls, one fill light on either side of the camera, then the people lit with key lights, backlights, kickers. Would you think that this lighting would be appropriate for classical color photography, or would it be an example of cluttered lighting for color?

 

Anna, I think you make some great points I was curious to learn more about the Idea you started with ...in terms of why art students have trouble drawing light and shade....is there any books/essay's you've read about this ...thats very interesting. The idea that we don't really see light....we see objects.

 

Wanted to introduce a couple counter points though, I think what has happend is (and I just talked about this in another post on the main forum) is that we have entered a modern and now post modern era of thought. The essence of post modernism is deconstructionsim which is basically rooted in the idea that everything we think and feel is a constructed concept. The notion that we feel a "shadowy" scene is more frighting is a constructed concept and post modern thought tries to take this a part and ask "why are shadows scary" ...."ok because we don't know what is there and we assume that something dangerous could be there"...."ok why do we fear what we don't know" etc etc and when you do this and those ideas start to break apart I think you are able to work toward a truer/more honest place. The problem with all of this is of course if everything is constructed then theoretcially anything can mean anything and meaning is just lost.....There is this really great thing that the philoshpher derrida said which I don't know how well I can paraphrase but basically he says that ....yes everything is a concept and therefore meaning is always constructed (in terms of lighting again we are talking about "shadows" meaning frightening") but yet we still must try to create meaning and all we have is the socially constructed world so we must move forward under the pretense of knowing that is kinda all bullshit and try to find something.

 

Now with that said I think your right that some of this I think has led to this more "objective" lighting that doesn't try to put meaning on a scene and let the scene be the scene. I personally like this idea in some way, but I think the best contemporary cinematography does what derrida was saying which is that it is aware of the fact that to just light a frighting scene with heavy shadow is a constructed concept and that you can get deeper then that without being tottaly banal and objective. You can still try for meaning ....but be weary of where the meaning is coming from!

 

I think you see this in a whole slew of differnt way in contempoary cinematography work. I have heard of DP's referencing film cliche's and placing them in differnt types of scenes for example maybe you have this love scene where the guy is afraid to commit and is terrified and you light it like a horror film where you can't see the face of the women. In another take you see lubzeki do tree of life and using a very realistic lighting asthetic to get closer to beauty.....I think Lubzeki's work in tree of life is basically saying "people think hollywood lighting and capital C cinema is what beauty is but I'lm going to take that apart and show you that natural light and less galmour is actually more beautiful".

 

 

maybe I got too theoretical here haha ....I like to give a pretty deep read of things!

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Most cinematographers are not inventing anything new. Most people in all fields of art are copying the latest trends, This is as true today as it was in classical Hollywood. As I said, "realism" was always the focus of cinematography, starting in the early '20s. But what realism means to people has changed. The human eye has so much for range than the camera that the old lighting used to compensate for this. Contemporary lighting uses just as many gimmicks as classical lighting. There is no superior post-modern reality that is a leap in progress. It's different, but it's not better and it's definitely not more "real." You might point to "post-modern thought" but you can't tell me that movies are made and marketed in any other way they they were before. Shadows affect the nervous system; the way faces are lit affects how we feel about people. If DPs don't do glamour lighting as much, it's because those films and stories are not concerned with glamour. If anything, "effects" photography which tries to scare people through the use of things like shadows is much more rampant than ever before. Using conventions that don't fit the style to produce interesting contrasts is not new either. Classical cinematographers from the '20s to the '60s invented pretty much every lighting technique we have today.The author Patrick Keating spends a lot of time disabusing his readers of the the notion that the cinematography of yesterday was limited or inferior. There are all kinds of great movies with great lighting over the last hundred years. To privilege the last couple of decades as superior is ahistorical and the films themselves, watched side-by-side, are the proof.

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Since everything is constructed, then the "hands-off" approach is also a construction. Today people just use a different set of conventions. Ironically, in most interior lighting conditions, it's more realistic if you use lights than if you don't, because your eye picks up much much more light and detail than the camera. So by declining to light you are making the room artificially dark. That's a SPECIAL EFFECT, produced perhaps by notions of postmodernism, but creating in essence a reality that only exists in cameraland, just as much as the most flamboyant lighting you could ever create.

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Anna I don't necessarily privalage modern work over older works ....This is like privileging Duchamp over Renoir .....both were brilliant! but thought has progressed and new ideas are brought forth. The idea that "new is better" is a construction of the modern world ....especially of consumerism and captialism .... and I very much agree.....new is not always better and your right right its not necessarily more "real" ....but I think people are presenting new ways to get at truth and they are valid ideas.

 

 

Since everything is constructed, then the "hands-off" approach is also a construction. Today people just use a different set of conventions. Ironically, in most interior lighting conditions, it's more realistic if you use lights than if you don't, because your eye picks up much much more light and detail than the camera. So by declining to light you are making the room artificially dark. That's a SPECIAL EFFECT, produced perhaps by notions of postmodernism, but creating in essence a reality that only exists in cameraland, just as much as the most flamboyant lighting you could ever create.

 

I agree....and anyone not using lights to be more natural is missing the fact that the camera itself imposes its own reality. Those who know what they are doing approach it differntly .... Harris savides had a great understanding of how to light for the camera to help recreate a honest reality. Every cinematographer I think should have an understanding that cameras do not capture reality ....they create a version of it sure....but an image in itself is no more true then a painting and it should be treated as such.

 

I very much like Davids example of "one from the heart" in which the asthetic is high stylized yet done mostly with practical sources.

 

 

 

 

Shadows affect the nervous system; the way faces are lit affects how we feel about people. If DPs don't do glamour lighting as much, it's because those films and stories are not concerned with glamour

This is the one place I think you are missing something. If shadows affect the nervous system one must ask why.....it might be born into us....but that is a concept still ....maybe its evolution and we are just afraid of the unkown but that is still something to challenge and it is not a fixed idea it is a concept! ....as for galmour lighting as I brought forth with Lubzeki's tree of life I think there is a new "glamour lighting" which is saying that our reality is beautiful in itself and I don't need to stylize it to show glamour. Also on a slightly less theoretical level this becomes a women and gender issue too because you have to look back at the reason for "glamour" lighting and all of that soft filtration crap on women.....because women are these beautiful objects and blah blah we are now working through that so your not going to see a soft fx filter on a women's close up anymore...although I can't say across theboard things have gotten that much better for portrayl of women in film.

Edited by Albion Hockney

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With digital cinematography, diffusion on close-ups is more popular than ever, especially for HD broadcast work.

 

You have to understand that beyond the issues of glamorization, there is the practical issue that over the course of many weeks and months of work, some days being very long, even the most beautiful woman in the world is not going to look her best on some days and besides the mandate to be flattering, there is a basic issue of continuity to maintain.

 

As for Lubezki's beautiful work on "Tree of Life", it shows that you can do beautiful work in natural light, but it doesn't hurt that they had a very long schedule, could shoot at optimal times of day, didn't have many pages of script to adhere to every day, could improvise, and had a director who wanted to stage action at the best angle for the natural light. All of those elements are not typical on a movie or TV series production. You have to shoot in terrible light sometimes, and then you lose that terrible light (!) and have to recreate it at night, sometimes outdoors, with questionable results, all to stay on schedule and move on to the next location. You also have some actors who, frankly, don't want to be softly side-lit by a window with half their face falling off into shadow, they want a key light over the lens and they won't let production continue until they get lit the way they want to, and will even go to the producers or the studio to complain if they aren't being lit that way. So it doesn't always help to know how Lubezki and Malick would make a movie when you aren't allowed to work in that manner.

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What's funny today is that since soft light is equated with natural light, we have situations where actors are lit much more softly, with big 8x8 or 12x12 sources off-camera, than any real source in the room would create.

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I don't know why soft light would be equated with natural light, except maybe indoors if you had a ceiling light with a frosted shade. Sunlight is the most natural light and it is a hard light. The reason I think the soft light has become so popular is that you only have to set one light. Less time for lighting = more profits for the studio.

 

About actresses being lit from the side softly with window light: I just finished reading John Alton's cinematography book, and he shows what it looks like if you light an orange from the side. You can see all of the texture of the orange peel. Then he moves the light to the front, and the orange looks smooth. It's the same with the pores on the face. He says that until you can light an orange so it looks as smooth as a billiard ball, you shouldn't try to light actresses! Then of course you have to add the other lights to make the orange look round. I looked at some photos we took recently, where first we had the key light soft and to the side, then we moved it to the front and hard - and voila! Suddenly she had no pores, no lines, and perfect skin! No wonder actresses insist on a key light! Alton is sort of insane though. He has a whole chapter on how ladies should arrange to be well-lit in every circumstance, even contriving which side of the street to walk on in relation to the sun, where to sit in a restaurant, and how to arrange the desk at work and the breakfast nook and dining table lights at home. He imagines a future in which every lady's house will be equipped with the perfect lighting in every room to show off that particular lady's best features. Alton may have been obsessive, but he sure knew lighting!

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Albion, you are assuming that special lighting on a woman is somehow sexist. Well, many people would agree with you. But then again it's not a fact that treating women and men differently in photography is sexist. There could be all sorts of reasons for wanting to glamorize women, including, as David suggests, the woman's own preferences on how to be lit. But glamour in itself is not a 4-letter-word. It's only the current fashion to try to erase gender. Yet sexist inequality is worse than ever in some ways, especially if you look at the violence of the sex industry. So no, I don't believe it's anyone's moral obligation to do away with glamour. If anything glamour was invented by women for women.

 

Of course you don't "need" stylize or glamorize anything to make it beautiful, but I think that's been a given in artwork and photography for at least 40 or 50 years and so it's not such a revolutionary concept.

 

As for the nervous system, it's not a concept. It's a fact that we respond to darkness and light differently. This probably even happens in the womb. We have circadian rhythms etc. Even if things are totally socially constructed, you can't just arbitrarily change what they mean and expect an audience to "get it." You can't change the meanings of archetypes. They become embedded in people. We read them like we read spoken language, so they are another form of language and can help to tell a story.

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Besides which: I looked at 500 DP reels recently, and almost none of them had anything you would call actually call "lighting" in them except on television commercials. The reels were dark, dark dark. No one, nothing was that visible. The range was light shadow to deep shadow. No key lights EVER. These DPs and directors obviously think that "dark" is going to provide them with a cool and interesting dark and deep and meaningful movie, just by virtue of the fact hat you can't see anything. So if you're complaining about using shadows as a gimmick, then complain about today's photography!

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Oh wow, so much to say!

 

David I really appreciate the practical side of the conversation you bring to the table, but I think much of these things need to be questioned....I understand there is a business at hand and that has implications, but it seems a good idea to ask "why is the business the way it is and is it problematic?". in this case with both points I think the bussiness is super problematic in both limiting artistic creativity and being inherently sexist

 

Gender Issues

I understand this is a big conversation so not to go to far down the road....Personally I think the whole of society is pretty **(obscenity removed)**ed up in this area and your right Anna, I'm sure women ask to be lit that way... and I think your also right in saying its not sexist to treat women differnt from men....Women and Men will never be the same of course. But you have to question the root of why someone wants to be lit a certain way and why we do these things. It's hard to get away from the fact that this stuff has a root in thousands of years of a patriarchy and even if Women find agency in being sexy on camera....it still can be problematic. Anyways with that all said yea I think beauty lighting a women is super sexist and the film industry is super sexist and again agree with you Anna things seems to have gotten worse in a lot of ways.

 

In terms of diffusion David, yea we still use diffusion but 1/4 black pro mist is a lot differnt then the heavy diffusion of other times where could literally see a change shot to shot on screen when a pretty women was there.

 

Soft Lighting

Think of the word soft.....the lighting is litterally touching people softer its more subtle in appearance by its nature. Again bringing up Savides .....Harris knew how to use soft light to make images appear more realistic while still retaining stylistic charector (I suggest watching Birth, that is a well shot film!). As someone who shoots and spends a good amount of time thinking about light literally every day I walk around Anna I would say that the sun is not the "Most" natural source of light....it is one of many. When your inside your house in the day and the sun is not coming through the window the interior is being lit by sky light which is a huge soft source. I think in the real world people are often not in situations where a light is hitting them directly and because of the increased Dynamic range of our eyes we see them still as lit.....when you are looking at someone .....lets say in a lamp lit room and they are facing away from the lamp that light on there face is super super soft because its lit being bounced of adjacent walls. Soft light is everywhere and I think very natural. No more or less then hard sources.

 

 

...on to this nervous system thing. You tottaly can change the meaning of archetypes ....we invented them and they are up for question! haha we will have to agree to disagree on this point I'm sure. I say question everything.....language is the most constructed thing of everything ...and even language is tied up with all sorts of political, gender, class etc etc etcissues. you know Gondry made a really nice movie about Noam Chomsky with animation and such and does a really good job taking about how language is constructed I really recomend that. you may tottaly disagree but I think its a good watch either way.

 

 

ahh and the dark lighting. Dark is definitely in and trendy right now...I'm for sure guilty of it too I love to light dark.....and again I'd say that its use is usually intersting and not just to scare people in this classical sense. That said darkness in photography today I think has a lot to do with the fact for a long time hollywood and out technology told us we need to use a lot of light to make a movie so people are rebeling now that they can and trying to find new ways to make images. Also it should be said that realistic darkness is being better used in films then ever before.... sometimes in real life its dark man! you can't see much.....why shouldn't films try to repersent that reality.....and so often it can be used in beautiful meaninful ways.

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Albion, I'm going to have to disagree with you here again and say that I am a woman and I LOVE glamour and most of the other people I know who love glamour are WOMEN and GAY MEN, not straight men. There is a value to aesthetics outside of sexism, and this is where I depart from radical feminists. Straight men like to watch women with MAKEUP SMEARED, CRYING, SICK and SAD and UGLY and MAIMED and DECAPITATED and GROVELING and DIRTY if we look at how men like to depict women today in films (horror, porn, etc.) A face is where the soul is. Lighting a woman's eyes and face is showing her as a subject. Having her fade into the background is taking away her importance as a subject, and subordinating it to the environment, which is how men today prefer to see women (subordinated). People with no historical context often think that lighting women for glamour was only about pleasing men, whereas in fact women used to be regarded as having a superior soul to men and men were often inspired by the beauty and placidity of a woman's features, which were allied with saintliness and goodness.

 

The love of darkness is a MALE OBSESSION. Most of the modern techniques of lighting and cinematography feature MALE interests. Much cinematography today is sexist in its own way, in that's it's become so technical and special-effects-oriented and lame, and not about human subjects and stories.

 

And no, you CAN'T change the meaning of archetypes. Any psychologist will tell you that. You can play with language but you can't change the way a person's body reacts to archetypal stimuli.

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Beautiful women were and are marketed just as much to women as to men, by the way. And it's not pathetic in any way for women to want to be beautiful. It's only pathetic in a world in which only MALE values and virtues are considered important.

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its all constructed though! why don't men like glamour? because it wasnt sold to them and a part of there life since they were born ....and for a men to like glamour is to be feminint which is thought of as a negative....historically women have both been evil and saintly but in both roles they are objectified and stereotyped.

 

To say the darkness is intrinsically male is like saying black/darkness is intrinsically sinsiter and evil and white/light is intrinsically pure and good. Tell that to a person of color!

 

I don't think its pathetic for a women to want to be beautiful at all.....but I think it should be questioned....what is this beauty that is being looked for and why socially do I want it. In film it should really be considered because most of the times actresse's are commodities

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