A documentary about the art of lighting: Light & Shadow

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I am bit late with posting this. Sorry for that, but better late than never!

Back in 2011 I did an interview for Zacuto/ Kessler’s Great Camera Shootout 2012. The interview was not your standard interview. There were almost no questions about specific cameras. It was much more inspirational questions…way deeper than I expected. To be honest, when I was asked to do it and heard what the idea was, I was enormously flattered and embarrassed to be interviewed alongside some quite legendary Cinematographers

There are so many masters of their craft in the edit of the Shootout, and to have my soundbite straight after a legend was amazing…but as I said, embarrassing. I am not one of these people. I am a simply a digital filmmaker with a massive passion for what I do and a desire to share as much as I can with people….but most of all, I love to simply shoot. Video, stills…It doesn’t matter. Capturing images…being behind a camera and seeing the world through it, is what I feel I was born to do, in that it is that place I am most happy!

My dear friend Steve Weiss never actually let on what he had at the back of his head, but all those left-field questions all make sense now. He was making two docs: the shootout, and this film below. Light & Shadow. Again, to be in this is a wonderful compliment, and I am proud to be in a documentary like this with people who have inspired me to be here today.

Lighting is the most beautiful thing in the world. Mastering it is the hardest. Learning how to harness available and natural light and knowing how to replicate it and create a whole new world via it. It’s the one thing I learn the most about on every shoot, and by watching more experienced Cinematographers (and many with a lot less experience!) than me.

I have included a few of my favourite things I have shot that for me harness the light to the closest I had envisioned. Some of it is all available light. Some of it is all controlled light. Some won’t look lit but are – the music video “Bitten by the frost” had a critique on Vimeo that I found to be a massive complement. “Why didn’t you light it?”…I did. I made the whole video look like real available light when most of the time there wasn’t. A massive challenge. It’s easy to blast lights but way harder to be subtle and replicate what we see with our eyes.

This film is a lovely piece of work from Steve and the team, and I hope it will inspire you to seek out the work from these Cinematographers and get inspired!

Anyway enough from me….a few words from Steve then click the video image (or here) to watch the film! (Oh one small note, the projector footage was mine from my mini doc “Portrait of a protectionist” that I gave Steve to use. That mini doc was made entirely with available light and you can also watch that below…)

STEVE WEISS: The was definitely a passion project me.  We started interviewing Cinematographers 18 months ago.  We decided not to ask the obvious questions, but more to try to find the passion and inspiration we all have for film, cinematography and creativity itself.  We wanted our cinematographers to offer advice to aspiring cinematographer–real advice, not just how to light and shoot.  It started as an idea I had 2011 (the interviews) and was incorporated into Revenge of the Great Camera Shootout 2012 but actually went on long after the 2012 Shootout aired.  We continued shooting interviews and simultaneously worked on the edit of Light and Shadow.  

This is not an educational film, although you can learn a lot if listen.  It’s more of an inspirational piece that I hope will motivate people to get out and shoot, improve their craft and see how others before them made it to the top of their field. 

I have to say both Jens (my DP) and I learned a ton just asking these questions and listening to what they industry legends had to say.  It was truly a privilege to be given access and I’m sure we will become better filmmakers from this opportunity. We hope you will too. — Steve Weiss, producer/director Light & Shadow

Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 02.19.38 amazongearstore


Portrait of a boxer from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Lit with 3 hard lights…2K, 800 W and 150w, plus natural light from windows.

Bitten By The Frost from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

This is the music video I was describing above. Lots of additional lighting used, but all in a simple way. We never had more than two/ three lights up. A lot of the time it’s about harnessing or enhancing available/ natural light.

Portrait of a projectionist from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

All available light, including interview. No additional lighting used.

A day at the races from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

A great example of the beauty of available light mixed with the stunning natural light. We had a gaffer. He used his 1X1 as a flag! :”)

NT Live trailer from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Lots of lights used here. My favourite being the big stage lights. Lovely!

Insipiens from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

Again the beauty of natural light and golden hour. Nothing beats the golden hour. 

Olly Knights: If not now when from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.

All the shots of performing are 2 litepanels. All the narrative shots are 100% natural light.

Host (a Danny Lacey short film) from Danny Lacey on Vimeo.

Shot on Epic. Lots of light. Main light through window was a 2.3kw HMI.