Archive for the month “March, 2012”


Eadward Muybridge was a well known experimental photographer – here is a panorama of San Francisco he created…

and another of his inventions – the zoopraxiscope – an early movement illusion much like a zoetrope

And he also did some incredible things with early three dimension illusions in photography:

The rich gentry, with time to gamble on the races, had begun to argue about the correct way in which there commissioned painters captured their horses. The human eye is not possible to see the exact details of how they move – whether all feet leave the ground at once or one or two have contact at all times… see for yourself:

So Muybridge got involved to do a thorough scientific investigation – allowing him to invent a way of having cameras lined up to take images triggered by the horse running into a thread – when all the images were put together – a flickbook effect was possible and the movement was captured against measuring charts to have as a reference…

This led to a comprehensive series of locomotion studies using this technique – using circus animals and actors to analyse movements…

The only major development with some movements was to lose the triggering mechanism and redesign it on clockwork to create a frame rate…

These collection of motions have been a reference for animators ever since – and the concept of separate cameras creating each frame came back full circle with the concept of bullet-time



While photography is the obvious precursor to filmmaking – the motion element called for a different approach to move on from the chronophotographe shooting many slices of time onto one frame.

A key element was the mechanics to have a rapid pull down -stop – pull down – stop regulated system – so where else to develop it from but sewing machines!


Étienne-Jules Marey invented this 12 frames a second camera in 1882. Like a cinematic DaVinci he was curious to take apart the anatomy, aviation and structure… wanting to analyse it using photography. 

Creating the Chronophotographe made it possible to capture locomotion by taking frames in quick succession all onto one image, which gives this ghosting effect of staggered movement…

SHOOTING FORMATS #0.7: Film stock

Film has developed a new meaning as a verb – to film… but the origins come from the material – a thin sheet. This thin sheet has had lots of incarnations, starting with fragile paper and moving to flammable celluloid (see ‘Inglourious Basterds’ or ‘Cinema Paradiso’ for memorable onscreen film fires…

Gelatine was used as a way of creating a colloid for the light sensitive chemicals – (a colloid is a mixture where one ingredient is suspended with equal spacing in the other – just as milk is butter fats suspended in water) here is a disturbing video about how gelatine is made, from a human point of view the invention of digital cinemtography is great as it reduces the mediums connection to boiled animal bits. Think twice before you chew on cheap gelatine sweets!

The old nitrate flammable films were prone to deteriorate – leading to lots of old film reels to turn to a vinegar smelling dust in the can.

Stocks are given names by a mixture of there chemical properties – light sensitivity – company-brand name and the size of the stock – coming in standard fittings for the manufacture of the standard gate sizes in cameras ie, 35mm, S/16mm, s/8mm 9-1/2mm 72mm etc.

SHOOTING FORMATS #0.6.1: Subtractive colour

To understand more about colour, first it’s essential to know how we perceive it… here is a talk on it…

SHOOTING FORMATS #0.6: the three-colour-method

1850’s attempts at colour did not work out due to a stuck way of thinking that there was a need to find chemicals that would react to coloured light and recreate – much like chameleon skin.

What actually ended up being the solution was having a colour theorist – James Clerk Maxwell, who had discovered the eye has cone shaped cells, three kinds with each more reactive to different spectrums of light giving humans the perception of colour. Here is a photograph of the cones also with rods (but lets ignore those for now) under the microscope.

These cells contain chemicals that are able to sense light – humans have three different types of cones…

Each type of the three cones is more sensitive to a different band on the spectrum of light

So using this theory of three sets of sensitivity to blue green and red that the human eye uses – James Clerk Maxwell took an image three times using coloured filters to block that colour of light, the latent image would for each would not include that information on the black and white image. Combining the three negative images by putting them on slides and projecting them to the same spot with the same colour filtration that was blocked created a fairly accurate three tone colour image – here is the first one ever recorded…

This monochromatic data can then be processed with chemicals and dyes to create a final photograph, as illustrated below…


SHOOTING FORMATS #0.5: Collodion Process

In the early 19th Century photographers used the collodion process, this video below does a great job in showing it hands on.

The results are amazing!

An outstanding look from an old school technique – image courtesy of Quinn Jacobson who still uses the Colloidol Wet Plate to great effect.

The above photo is taken by Quinn Jacobson who is a modern master of this technique –

check out his site http://studioq.com/

SHOOTING FORMATS #0.4: Chemical developments

Curiously inventions seem to all come at once – maybe as a species we are suddenly able to unlstags new stage through what has come before.

Shortly before Daguere, Hercules Florence had invented the same thing. A more isolated character whose other inventions all focused on the recording of things – worked with a chemist to create the recording of light onto chemicals – which he called photographie.

Photo graph – is the coming together of two Greek words. Photo meaning light and graph meaning drawing. To draw with light.

Unaware of this naming, John Herschel (above) who developed the use of sodium thiosulfate to create an improved fixing solution on the first negative glass plate – also called this development ‘photography’.

Just as Niepce had washed away dried bitumen on a sheet of pewter with lavender oils,anyone has had a go in a dark room will know chemical baths are used in modern photography.
One wash to develop the image, a developer to bring out the latent image, a fixer to stop the development from continuing and a stop bath to wash away the chemicals.

Astrophotography – getting started

Driving home on a really nice Spring day I decided to follow my instincts to pull over and appreciate the somerset levels. Discovering a bird watching hut full of friendly ‘twitchers’

I’d never got involved in the twitching community before – where everyone is welcoming but only ever discuss the sex of the peregrine falcon in view and never anything beyond the birds being watched… But one thing struck me – these people own some of the most amazing lenses – more so than the cinematographers I know! From getting chatting to them they taught me it is also possible to attach a DSLR to a telescope – so from this encounter I have got hold of a telelscope and am now keen to follow in the footsteps of histories great thinkers and get obsessed with gazing out at the universe…

This could become an expensive hobby – but my aim is to have enough kit and be clued up enough to be ready for May 5th 2012 – when there is the next super moon – where the moon is closest and looks huge as it hits the horizon!

SHOOTING FORMATS #0.0: Observing the universe

In the beginning of all filmmaking – was a bunch of humans with a curiosity and a need for stories.
It is recorded the Egyptians first thought the earth was the floor of a massive box shaped universe…

Around 3500 B.C. Phonenicians recorded a discovery while cooking that the properties of the sand they were cooking on changed…

Some time later the Greek Aristophanes (who also figured out an estimate of the diameter of the planet using shadow measurements over large distances) used glass lenses with water to magnify the sun to ignite a fire.

Then for some time the only realised application of a lens was eye sight correction… until 1608 onwards where the discovery that two lenses a distant apart can magnify sight. This led to Galileo Galilei using this technique to improve the practice of star gazing.

Astronomy – coming from the Greek word as “Law and Order” is the study of the arrangement and movement of the stars – this long distance called for exact precision and meant early development in lenses were way ahead of the other elements of a camera as we know it today…

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