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Question concerning outdoor lighting in True Grit (4 replies and 4 comments)

Erik Lokegaard
1 month ago
Erik Lokegaard 1 month ago

Hello, Roger Deakins. 
I'm struck by how harsh and naturalistic the light in this scene from True Grit is. Was it photographed with natural light only? Were the outdoor scenes in True Grit generally photographed with natural light only? The whole film has unusually beautiful lighting. 

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/True-Grit-2.png
Erik Lokegaard
1 month ago
Erik Lokegaard 1 month ago

Another image from this scene:

https://www.rogerdeakins.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/True-Grit-1.png
Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

I used some large muslin frames for bounce on occasion and there was probably one to the right of the shot of Jeff. I also used solids at time to reduce the natural bounce from the ground. I don't remember using any lamps on the daytime exterior shots but I did light what was virtually a night for day shot when we lost the light in a snowstorm.

Erik Lokegaard
1 month ago

Thank you, Mr. Deakins.
I've always been struck by how naturalistic the films you photograph look. The first time I was struck by how much films can look like real life was when I saw Fargo on TV at age 10. That experience redefined my perception of how natural-looking films could be - up until that point I had mostly seen unnatural-looking Hollywood films. Do you think the ability/determination to make films look like real life is something that seperates you from other Hollywood cinematographers?

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

I would say you might want to take a wider view of films and of cinematography in particular. Although it is true to say that films made in Europe and elsewhere, directly post WW2, were often more 'naturalistic' it would be wrong to say there was nothing of that nature being made in Hollywood before the 1990s. By the time I worked on 'Fargo' there had been all manner of naturalistic films made in the US and you only have to look at the work of one cinematographer, Conrad Hall, to see plenty of examples.

Erik Lokegaard
1 month ago

I guess I should rather have written that I haven't seen any other cinematographer create natural-looking films as well as you do. I have seen hundreds of films photographed by other cinematographers and none of them have struck me in the same way as films photographed by you. All cinematographers have their own style, and I guess I'm just more captivated by your style.
Sincerely,
Erik Lokegaard

Roger Deakins
1 month ago
Roger Deakins 1 month ago

You are very kind to say that. I look at the work of others, such as that of Conrad Hall on 'In Cold Blood' or Vadim Yusov on 'Ivan's Childhood', and I feel a complete novice.

Erik Lokegaard
1 month ago

Now I know which two films I will see next.
I thank you for your time and look forward to your first post-COVID film.

MattBendo
1 month ago

"I look at the work of others, such as that of Conrad Hall on 'In Cold Blood' or Vadim Yusov on 'Ivan's Childhood', and I feel a complete novice"

It is always nice to read something like this. Such a humble perspective that makes me realize I will always feel like a novice and that there is nothing wrong with that. There is always room to grow and improve. Going to watch Ivan's Childhood tonight!

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