I’m a cinematographer and photographer.
(Is the distinction even valid anymore? A topic for another entry perhaps.)
Early on I learned the hard way that, like it or not, the ability to create something anywhere near close to what I envisioned in my mind’s eye depended upon an understanding of the science involved in image making.
Rather than feeling put upon by what, for many people I knew, was an ironic impediment to their “genius,” I was intrigued by the fact that photography seemed to be a marriage of art and science – if only because, as such, it put the lie to the modernist dichotomy which governed my education.
In the analog days, this meant that, in order to have any hope of control over the look of an image, one would need to acquire at least a working knowledge of:
>> the physics of light, film, and lenses
>> the mechanics of the iris and the shutter
>> the chemistry of film development and printmaking
Those were heady times. There’s few things as magical as seeing an image appear on an exposed piece of paper, bathing in developer, in the red light of a darkroom. However, nostalgia needs to be tempered by one incredibly frustrating reality.
If the images in your head happened to be in color, good luck.
Affordable color processing options were of mediocre quality and frustrating to use. The high end color processing options (especially dye transfer printing) were beyond the means of all but the most successful commercial photographers.
Fast forward to the advent of Photoshop. Well before digital cameras reached a quality level that made them reasonable rivals to film cameras, photographers were using new computer-based sciences to transform their celluloid libraries into digital files so they could make use of the freedom that Photoshop afforded to realize their vision in living color.
Soon enough, digital cameras caught up to – and in many ways surpassed – film cameras. Today, small mirrorless cameras capture more information than the famous Hasselblad medium-format film camera which went to the moon – and do so for both stills and video.
So where am I going with all this? I recently had a chance to shoot with one of these magical machines, the brand new Sony A7rII. And while I will try not to bore you with the technologies that make this camera such an amazing tool, I do need to say that it offers the serious image maker a truly unique combination of extended dynamic range, amazing detail, and tremendous low light capabilities.
But rather than prattling on, let me share with you some images I was able to produce. And in my next post, I’ll go into more depth about digital imaging technology and how it’s exended the photographer’s and the cinematographer’s artistic reach.
PLEASE! Click inside each image to see a larger sized view. Doing so will give you a better idea of the camera’s technical capabilities, which are far beyond what can be reproduced online.