Shooting night scenes nearly always requires at least a passing sense of moonlight. The wash of soft overhead ‘blue’/daylight light at night has long been the staple of Hollywood night scenes. A remarkable 239 000 miles from earth, this planet offers a source of bounced light at night. It catches the daylight of the sun and bounces it back into our darkness. For tungsten balanced eyes at night this appears blue.
A recent shoot took me on a monumental photographic journey across the States with maestro director Chris Holt. From North West to South East… a deep zig zag cut through the American landscape as we traced the dark journey of our infamous protagonist.
A shoot recently took me to the North of Namibia to film with the nomadic Himba tribe.
Conditions were as hot and dusty as you might expect from the harsh desert environment and dust devils plagued our equipment daily. And then into this dry, arid, almost monochromatic landscape the Himba people emerged, bringing a sense of colour and costumed majesty that I found mesmerising, and a joy to photograph.
Alaska provides some of the most striking and distinctive North American landscape backdrops. This wilderness is true to its reputation, wild, rugged and very remote making photography both challenging and rewarding.
Handheld camera work is probably the most pervasive form of motion photography... from news gathering, to 'observational documentaries, to iPhone footage: the camera in the hand is everywhere. And its visual signature is strong, unambiguous, human... we somehow know that it is closer to the 'truth' … to the un-augmented reality of life.
Recently it was suggested to me that we shoot a film on a 'normal' lens... a 50mm. Although I understood in essence what the director meant, as I began to unpack this notion both for him and for myself I found that the concept exploded. At the heart of his desire to keep the lens choice simple and unaffected was almost everything that is at stake in the cinematographic process. In his 'normal' lens request was the desire for an un-augmented, degree zero, human point of view that has haunted almost every filmmaker.
It's always a dynamic creative process to collaborate with Anthony Mascolo, hairdressing legend and photographic visionary. His brief for Fearless//Reckless was personal, non-commercial and uncompromising.The shoot was designed to echo the powerful film we had made together years before, together with maestro director Michael Lindsay... 'Initiation'. The Initiation shoot gave us a lot of our visual language, to be mixed this time round with a monochromatic, gritty quality and an altogether more shadowy palette
Working on visionary filmmaker Darren Aronofsky's 'One Strange Rock' was an extraordinary photographic journey. The reach of the series was bold and ambitious and the extensive creative team from Nutopia that produced it an inspiration to work with. Filming with the astronauts and hearing their perspective on our planet was fascinating... particularly the extensive work I got to do with the legendary Chris Hadfield a man who has photographed our planet so beautifully from space.
A beauty commercial for Finnish brand Cutrin called for a meeting of landscape with the soul of Finnish femininity. Maestro director Michael Lindsay aimed to collide the change of seasons and landscapes with a feminine Finnish 'Sisu'... to explore the beauty and resilience that is built through this drama. The shoot was to begin in the Arctic North and then finish in the South, in the beautiful rocky coastline of the Finnish Baltic.
For a promo for Tigi the brief from the creative team was to find the sympathetic movement of lighting, camera and subject... as if all in moved in sync to the same score.
We wanted the lighting to go from bold silhouettes to full light, together with a dolly move towards the subjects. The silhouette backgrounds were to roll and pulse with the same sense of pace and motion across the colour spectrum.
In pre-production for the Elizabeth I series, starring Lily Cole, I discussed using a small degree of 'base layer' diffusion with maestro director Chris Holt. After extensive testing I settled on one of the Kipper Tie diffused Optical Low Pass Filters. These replace the existing Red OLPF and sit directly in front of the sensor for a light touch of softness and some highlight halation.
For shooting a music video in Cornwall with director Stuart Brennan, we employed a 2 camera package. The A camera was a Red Weapon Magnesium and the B camera was a Scarlet W, this permanently mounted in a DJI Ronin Gimbal. While the A camera utilised a set of Arri Zeiss Ultraprimes (16-135mm) this my first outing with the P + S Technic 18-35mm T2 zoom which was mounted in the DJI Ronin Gimbal.
'The Number', directed by Manuela Gray, focuses on South Africa's 'Number' prison gangs. As the shoot required the delivery of both motion and stills we opted to shoot with a Red Epic Dragon favouring its higher resolutions, as these would give us the most useable results for stills extraction.
I have been using Gimbal rigs for some time for smooth gliding movement with the bigger camera rigs. Pictured here a DJI Ronin with a Red Epic Dragon, 20mm Arri Zeiss Ultraprime, Arri LCS, Easyrig, Serene Arm and Puppeteer.
When it comes to filming History, the photographic benchmark is particularly high. So when I was asked to shoot a history drama with long time collaborator Chris Holt we poured over the many great examples of period photography. There are several inspired approaches to the past, but we were particularly drawn to Justin Kurzel and Adam Arkapaw's breathtaking Macbeth and to the challenge set by Barry Lyndon's bold reliance on candle light.
I have always shot a lot of hand-held. It's still the most intuitive operating style, the one most in sync with the human movements of your subject. But the breathing and sway it brings can denote an extra point of view, the presence of the camera watching in the scene.
Shooting Parkour, the ultimate mix of urban physicality and heroism. We wanted to shoot with considered, steady camera movement to evoke some of the gladiatorial majesty of the Traceur. The terrain we planned to track across and through was rough, uneven, obstacle ridden, broken concrete.
Shooting for the first time in Thailand provided a wealth of photographic colour and texture. From the picture postcard islands to the neon night bustle of Bangkok to the jungles and Buddhist temples of the North I was saturated with visual inspiration.
Shooting at Sea in Cape Town, one of the most breathtaking coastlines in the world. No two days look the same as this watery landscape responds rapidly to tides, light and wind. If you can overcome the violent pitching that working at sea requires, the mirrored surface offers its own drama, texture and beauty.
I am left slightly speechless after three weeks of filming in the Arctic. Travelling on an Ice-breaker through the sea-ice revealed some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. Throughout our journey around Svalbard there was perpetual daylight... the hard, low sun never setting.