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Samuel Berger

Not sure if fog filter or stocking over lens

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"Bilitis" (1977). The promo shots all looked like standard David Hamilton stuff, but when you watch the actual movie, which apparently was shot on an Arriflex BL, it looks almost exactly like "La Cage Aux Folles" which came out a year later.

The movie is too boring to watch but I admit there were interesting shots in it. I just don't know if they went the Unsworth route witha fog filter, or if they put pantyhose behind the rear element....

Thoughts?

 

 

 

1200px-Bilitis.png

 

 

bilitisgrab1.jpg

 

 

On this behind the scenes shot you can see the lens, doesn't appear to have stocking over it.

 

post-10433-0-42356400-1511400706_thumb.jpg

 

 

Edited by Samuel Berger

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You'd have to watch the movie and look for specular hot spots in the frame -- like a car headlamp or bare light bulb or sun glint off of a car -- and how they halate to guess the filtration. Could be a mix of techniques.

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Looked at a clip on YouTube of an opening bicycle scene in dappled sunlight and you can see some cross-shaped (+) glints on the handlebars which tells you that a net was used on the lens. But some other promotional photos show a blue glow around the actors from a hot window that is more the effect of glass diffusion of the day such as Fogs, Double Fogs, etc.

 

I don't discount a homemade filter using hairspray on glass, it's just that a "true" diffusion filter has to have a consistent amount of clear spaces between the mist particles on the glass to let some sharp light through, otherwise you just end up with a blurry, slightly out-of-focus image, not a "diffused" image, which is the overlay of a sharp image over a blurred image. It's very hard with a homemade filter to get that balance right though not impossible, you have to do it a few times.

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David, thank you for looking into this, it's very nice of you. :-) I found the opening bicycle clip in HD, under the title "'J'embrasserais jamais un garçon' extrait de Bilitis de David Hamilton" on Youtube.

 

Probably the same one you saw. The promotional photos are a different story, I really believe most of them were just taken by Hamilton in his standard fashion, for publicity purposes and don't reflect what appears on the film. In fact in the behind-the-scenes photos you see him snapping away with his pet Minolta, which he loaded with Ektachrome 200. He always denied using diffusion or filters in his still photography, but in the actual movie there's obviously something there.

 

On a complete bunny hunt, I decided to see if the cinematographer for "La Cage aux Folles" worked on "Bilitis", and accidentally found out that no, he didn't, but he directed "The Tree with Pink Leaves", which is one of my favourite films and in fact I've started rewatching this week....Internet rabbit hole. ;-)

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I don't know how a photo like this could be taken unless you used a filter, or breathed on the lens, or had an old uncoated lens at minimum:

e2f01fc3.jpg

 

A number of internet posts claim he used hairspray on a UV filter. Some of his photos show part of one side being blurred, maybe with vaseline on the filter. I've also used finger prints on a filter as a way of diffusing part of the frame, sometimes enhanced by using a little bit of ChapStix (which is a waxy petroleum jelly) dotted on the corners of the frame and then using my finger to smudge and feather it, basically creating a lot of smudgy fingerprints.

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Here's an example of me using smudgy fingerprints (helped with some ChapStix) around the edges of the frame on a filter, plus a net filter, for a fantasy scene in "The Love Witch":

 

lovewitch25.jpg

 

lovewitch26.jpg

 

I did a similar thing for this dreamy sequence in "Smash", shot by shot I'd put a few fingerprints on the corners of the frame:

 

smash14.jpg

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Lovely shots, David! Were those "Love Witch" scenes the ones shot on 250D?

 

I've read the hairspray on UV filter thing. On the internet, we never know where a piece of info originated, but it's possible. His favorite lens was a Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.7 but I don't know if it's uncoated. Bernie O'Doherty told me that if I removed the coating on my Angenieux zooms I'd be sure to get a 1930's-1940's look. Maybe the Rokkor was uncoated.

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No, I did all the day exterior scenes on 200T. I only used 250D for a few day interiors that I had to light with HMI's, and the rear-projection driving scenes because the projector was daylight-balanced.

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No, I did all the day exterior scenes on 200T. I only used 250D for a few day interiors that I had to light with HMI's, and the rear-projection driving scenes because the projector was daylight-balanced.

 

Why was a decision made to shoot on 200T in such beautiful sunlight? Did it come from a desire to emulate the grain from slower vintage stocks? Also, did you meter for shadows and use an ND filter? I haven't watched the full film but every time I see still from "The Love Witch", I love the look.

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200T is a little finer-grained than 250D plus I wanted to follow the general principle that 35mm older movies used one film stock for the whole production because they didn't have much choice. And I thought that 50D was too clean and modern. I used the 85 filter outdoors. For my few day interiors though, I was already rating 200T at 100 ISO so with an 85 filter, that would have been 64 ISO, a bit too slow for my lighting package.

 

My usual metering technique is to meter the sun and the shade and then bias the exposure towards whatever direction I feel is right depending on the percentage of sun versus shade and the angle of the sun. But in this case, it actually was a bit easier to meter because I was blasting people with HMI's as if this were an old movie and they were using arc lamps, even to the point where the background would go a little dark compared to the actors.

 

I would describe my general method of exposing film negative outdoors as this, using an incident meter: semi-frontal hard sun, meter the sunlight and open up a 1/2-stop so the shadows aren't too blocked up. In half-sun, half-shade, open up 1-stop from the meter reading of the sunlight. In mostly backlight with 1/4 sun or less, meter the shadows and underexpose 1 1/2-stops (generally that's the same exposure as splitting the difference between the sun and the shade. In full backlight with just a halo from the low sun, meter the shadow side and underexpose 1-stop. Stay 1-stop under for when the sun disappears, let it go 2-stops under for late twilight.

 

It all gets more complicated when you have areas of very heavy shade, like in the woods. Usually if I'm in a rush to shoot, I just shoot the shade 1-stop or 1 1/2 stops under and hope the film stock holds the sunny areas.

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This is very interesting stuff, thank you for all this detail! But when you underexpose or overexpose like that, do you give the lab any special instructions? Or just process normally?

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Processing is a separate issue from timing since it's to the whole roll. Whether I push or pull or process normally the whole roll depends on a number of factors.

 

I expose as close as I can to what I think it should look like if a single one-light print had been made, which is why I underexpose something in the shade so if feels like it is in the shade, not at full key exposure as it were in the sun, but I also expose for the look I want -- do I want it to feel hot & sunny? Do I want things to go into silhouette with black shadows?

 

I learned to expose by shooting reversal where I couldn't correct it easily shot by shot, so I exposed for the final look I wanted. Hence why something in half sun and shade has the exposure sort of spilt between them, because that is what generally looks correct to the eye, the sun feels a little hot and the shadows are open, they aren't plugged up. But I also have to bias that exposure for the particular format because of dynamic range limitations. Sometimes you expose darker than you intend just because you want to hold detail in something very bright, or vice-versa, you expose a very dark-toned subject a bit lighter than you want with the idea to darken it later in post.

 

I shoot a grey scale at the head of the roll, or the first roll of the whole scene, at the ISO I am rating the stock at... and tell them to use that as the basis for the whole scene -- so that any shots that follow that are a little hot or a little dark are left that way rather than corrected. I've also done things like shoot that grey scale through a pale blue filter and then pulled it for the scene so that the footage would be timed on the warm side. The grey scale tells the timer what "neutral" is in terms of color and exposure, so that anything in the scene that varies from neutral is clearly intentional.

 

Now sometimes when I have a crazy day of multiple cameras shooting front, back, side lit outdoors at the same time and the sun is going in and out of clouds, I will ask the timer to try and balance the shots a little closer since my exposures aren't always perfect and I don't want the editor, director, and producers to be distracted by a lot of mismatched shots.

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I think this guy knows exactly how it works:

http://www.maxstolzenberg.com

It seems as if he was a close friend or college of David Hamilton.
At least the pictures look exactly the same. 

Did anyone of you ever hear of this photographer?
I am curious to find out more about him.
Where does he live?  
His photos look quite pleasing.

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On 11/23/2017 at 6:34 AM, Samuel Berger said:

Lovely shots, David! Were those "Love Witch" scenes the ones shot on 250D?

 

I've read the hairspray on UV filter thing. On the internet, we never know where a piece of info originated, but it's possible. His favorite lens was a Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm 1:1.7 but I don't know if it's uncoated. Bernie O'Doherty told me that if I removed the coating on my Angenieux zooms I'd be sure to get a 1930's-1940's look. Maybe the Rokkor was uncoated.

The early pictures of Hamilton where shot on a MC Rokkor 58mm 1:1.4 I believe.
The MD 50mm 1:1.7 came with the X-700 in later years.
Some of the early lenses where also treated with Thorium, making a slight yellow taint over the time.
I think the coating of modern lenses is not helping with this style of photography.
To sharp, too clear. You'll need a soft lens, with less groups of glass.
Sometimes the imperfect is the better option.


 

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They made adjustable diffusion lenses for the Pentax67 if you can adapt it. Also T mount diffusion lenses but aperture is kinda fixed. The later was a magnifying glass mounted in a sliding tube to adjust focus. The T mount lenses was heavily diffused. 

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On 11/23/2017 at 5:25 PM, Samuel Berger said:

Thank you again, David, I'm taking a lot of notes.

 

Basically if something looks like this, I try to find out more:

 

vlcsnap-2012-09-11-00h06m30s43.png

Forget the notes, what have your experiments yielded?

My advice is if you want to smear stuff, smear it on a UV filter, not the lens. And if you smear the lens, make it dedicated and put a clean UV filter on it to preserve the look until you are finished with the project if you want things to match.

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Posted (edited)

Here are examples from the Sigma T mount 100mm f2 single element diffusion lens from the 1980's. These were shot wide open. 

 

 

1343880777_tuliplr.thumb.jpg.81e82d7cd7a91324221830647e828d06.jpg

 

1847758359_diffusion2.thumb.jpg.8b83abcd3a658e564f64156d68a07fa3.jpg

I didn't put my name on the files as I don't want to be associated with flower photography. I was experimenting with it and needed something to shoot.

 

Edited by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

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19 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

They made adjustable diffusion lenses for the Pentax67 if you can adapt it. Also T mount diffusion lenses but aperture is kinda fixed. The later was a magnifying glass mounted in a sliding tube to adjust focus. The T mount lenses was heavily diffused. 

You can get a special soft focus lens from Mamiya for the 645. I once tested it and it does some serious softening. Maybe if you combine that with a net filter from Cokin?

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19 hours ago, Daniel D. Teoli Jr. said:

Forget the notes, what have your experiments yielded?

My advice is if you want to smear stuff, smear it on a UV filter, not the lens. And if you smear the lens, make it dedicated and put a clean UV filter on it to preserve the look until you are finished with the project if you want things to match.

I think it will be a big difference between something put directly on the front lens or on a filter or maybe even on the rear element or in between lenses. The footage from the film suggests something behind the rear element of the lens.

 

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They might as well have used a lens with a lot of spherical aberration. Like the Rodenstock Imagon or the Meyer Görlitz Trioplan.
 

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