A reflection of our profession.

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  • #212302

      I hope you can understand this message without any problem since my English is limited and I have to use translators.

      In order to become a better DOP, I have been carrying around questions that I ask myself about the material I am reading and studying.

      I can’t recall if I read or saw one of your interviews, Roger, but you made a lot of mention of the need to educate oneself on the emotional effects of light and the sensitivity of it.

      This simple sentence made my head explode. I start from the place of how to give an emotion to light. Is it already a known fact in some way? Or is the DP the one that gives it to the scene to work on as requested?

      As I write these words, this example that is more culturally internalized comes to mind, that blue gives the sensation of cold and orange warm. It seems somewhat indisputable given that it is replicated in nature.

      A filtered light, a bounced light, or a light that has been bounced and filtered three times already has a fall and a certain weight, but does that in and of itself carry an emotional charge? Would it be worthwhile to inquire where in nature we would find this type of light with that fall and that density to give it a sensation or emotion, using the prior example of a warm-cold light as an example? Should we resignify light or stick with a universal or cultural connotation? Or maybe a little of both?

      Should I make a MEANING of quality light by asking myself “what happens in this scene”?

      Luego de preguntarme “qué sucede en la escena”, eso determina una cualidad en la luz? Should I add a MEANING of quality light

      I’m thinking, a SENSE should be built to any light that is worked by asking “what happens in this scene”? If, for example, in a scene we must see “a character who enters his house and is really tired, overwhelmed by the conflicts he is experiencing” it will be worth using a large light, bounced and filtered 3 times to give the scene the same charge and emotional sensation that the character is going through emotionally and whether the public perceives it consciously or unconsciously?
      It is that in this last case it is we as DP who are signifying the light with the scene. It could be a way of enhancing, emphasizing, underlining the background of the scene so that the public can perceive it.

      I consider this so that not everything is merely aesthetic and to the taste of each one. Or like today that one sees LED tubes in each shot, since it is what is in fashion commercially… I want to be able to reflect on this with you and see that it has a function of enhancing the story, what is the story asking for? .

      Well, we can also take this to color, although there are more adventurous authors who have already given meaning to each color, which would be interesting to see if conventions can be challenged.

      All teh best!

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    • #212337

        These are very personal questions.
        If there were any recipes why would you follow them?
        At the end it’s your taste that matters most. So find your own formulas so you have your own vocabulary.
        Watch films, look at paintings, photographs. Go out in nature, travel and see what the sunlight does. What the street lamps do. Etc
        Absorb as much as you can and never stop doing so. The inspiration is out there and it’s what’s gonna build your own special recipes.
        At the end light basically can only be measured by its quantity, quality (hard/soft), color and direction. What and how these affect you is what matters.




          You develop your own personal language based on your own emotional responses to light and color. I recall interviews with both John Boorman and Ingmar Bergman stating that they found the bright sunshine of California to be “oppressive” (of course they were also probably channeling their feelings towards Hollywood studios). Boorman said he found cold colors like blue to be “relaxing”. So there are limits to ascribing universal values to things like light and color.
          Also keep in mind that even if your guide is the script, it’s not always necessary to mimic the emotions of a scene visually, what in literature is called “pathetic fallacy.” Sometimes the visuals can be a counterpoint to the emotions of a scene, like when a character gets bad news on a perfect spring day surrounded by nature.


            Clint Eastwood often says “Let’s not overthink things” on set.

            We put a lot of pressure on ourselves trying to do it perfect.  Reading your text, I think you already ask the right questions and that’s all you really need in my opinion. Keep asking about content, keep questioning and talk to the director. You’ll develop your own intuition over time. But try not to put too much pressure on yourself. You are not the only one responsible for a scene’s emotion and as David said, sometimes you shouldn’t even attempt to insert some.

            ” Sometimes the visuals can be a counterpoint to the emotions of a scene, like when a character gets bad news on a perfect spring day surrounded by nature.”

            ‘Funny Games’ (like basically any Michael Haneke film) is a good example.

            ‘Se7en’ is another great example. For the first 3/4 of the movie, it always rains (even in interior scenes, you always hear rain). From the moment Kevin Spacey steps out of the cab to turn himself in, the sun starts to come out, and by the time of the barbarous finale in the desert, the nicest, most romantic sundown hits Pitt, Freeman and Spacey.

            Ganesh Venkatesh

              colors may have psychological effect.

              but you establish a particular color for particular emotion in the begging of your film.
              the audience feel the same emotion when they see that color even in the end of the film.

              image system of your film depends on the story and your vision.

              the books tells us some great filmmakers told their story in that way with using those techniques and particular colors.


                You can check “Color Psychology” by Eva Heller. It’s a book about how we interact with colors, what colors feel to us, how we mix them, etc. It’s a case study based on a quite big sample of population. It’s probably the closest you can get about how humans, at least humans in Europe, interact with colors and what each colors feel to us. It has also a brief story about some colors and particular stories. I wouldn’t take it so serious but if you are in need for some color theory and/or you are looking for references is great. Special mention the chapter about the colors mixing and how it change the meanings of just a single color.



                  Thank you for your answers that fill me with reflections and more questions! All that I want.

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