Director Stanley Kubrick is considered one of the America’s greatest filmmakers. His films are some of my favourites. I like to watch his movies with a photographer’s eye for ideas and inspiration. Here are some of the things I have learned from Mr. Kubrick.
1- Reverse-tracking- When using a wide angle lens, learn to reverse-track or backpedal in front of your subject. It takes practice but gives you a variety of natural looking images. Make sure to give an occasional glance over your shoulder! It’s easy to trip or walk over someone.
2- Shallow depth of field with a wide angle lens– Just because you’re using a wide angle lens, doesn’t mean you need to have everything in focus. Keep your subject close and keep an open aperture to achieve this.
3- Light sources in compositions– Photographs are all about light, and adding highlights like these can make your compositions more interesting and natural-looking.
4- Available light– Kubrick used candles, street lights and whatever he needed to light his films. Invest in fast lenses to work in low light. Use high ISO settings. Your pictures will be more dramatic.
5- Telephoto lens to isolate subject– Use telephoto lenses with wide apertures to clean up backgrounds and isolate your subject. Telephotos are also flattering for portraits.
6- Attention to detail– Be meticulous with your compositions. Pay attention to what’s going on in the viewfinder. Make sure you have perfect exposures. In the camera, not later.
These images are from Kubrick’s film Paths of Glory. There are many more. Grab some popcorn and watch them with your photographer’s eye!
It seems ridiculous now.
But if you were a photographer a decade or so ago, the word on the street was, digital cameras were going to wipe out photography. Kill the craft and lower the quality. I remember standing in front of photo students, pleading with them to embrace this brave new world of digital. It wasn’t an easy sell with the first generation of digital cameras. The dot.com bubble had just burst….the jury was still out on digital..
At newspapers we never had a choice. It was do or die. And initially, digital cameras were extremly difficult to use. If you used one the first digital SLR’s, you’d wonder why anyone would want to do this as a hobby. If you accidentally shot at 400 ISO you’d be panic stricken. Exposure had to be “slide film” accurate on one of those babies. The sensors? A whopping 2 million pixels. Try cropping that.
Newspaper photographers knew that digital cameras would become faster and easier to use. We just needed to be pioneers and slog through the early days.
But now, the skill and craft required to secure an image isn’t what it used to be. Anyone can get a properly exposed image on a digital camera. And you don’t have to practice the art of loading film anymore. And who cares?
The opinions on digital photography 10-15 years ago seem absurd in retrospect. Digital arguably saved photography when things were getting pretty stale in the nineties. The biggest news at the time was the introduction of faster films and auto-focus.
The only thing we can be sure of is change. So let’s grab our phones….or whatever….. get out there and take some photos!
“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” -Marilyn Monroe