Director of Photography Breakdown - Roger Deakins

Roger Deakins. A man who has developed the irrefutablereputation of a cinematographer with unmatched consistency. If he works on amovie, it looks good. His style is often referenced for what we have come toexpect in aesthetically pleasing contemporary cinema. In this post I willattempt to break down constant techniques he uses and develop through linesbetween films.


Wide Shot

Deakins is a master of the extreme wide shot.Perfect lens choice and composition allow him to establish space like no other.Often these shots are used at the beginning or end of a scene to lead us intoor ease us out of a moment. I find that when I experience shots like thisviscerally, with the character, it provides a perfect entrance into the headspace of the characters within the scene. The shot from Skyfall (upper middle shot) is not only incredible to look at, but it is used as an opener to establish the emotional turmoil he is experiencing by returning to the harsh and unrelenting landscape of his childhood. In the top shot from True Grit, the shot is used to establish the isolation and privacy Mattie hops to experience when visiting the grave of Rooster.


Establishing Shots

I think these are my personal favourites when it comes to Deakins work. Every establishing shot is on point. Not only are they all composed to perfection, but the slight tweaks in variety keep them interesting. I found 4 examples in which the subjects are never in the same part of the frame. On top of that, he uses leading lines and lens choice to create depth and completely establishes colour palette for every scene with these awesome shots.


Mid Shots

Although there are only two examples here, they are the perfect ones to represent the strength in Deakins’ mid shots. For the first shot, both the vertical and horizontal thirds are filled with interesting material. It creates immediate depth with the shallower depth of field, with the closer out of focus grass, the subject and then finally the fence trees and sky outside the focal plane. In the second shot from Prisoners it demonstrates Deakins’ excellent use of the leading lines in the desk to draw our eye to the subject in the center of the frame. It is also a perfect representation of his use of practical’s to light a subject in low light.

Close Ups

Finally the close ups, the bread and butter of most DP’s. Deakin’s is definitely a fan of unconventional these types of shots. These frames scream unconventional, from a close up with no light on the subject, to the side view of the parked car, they are trying to break the mold of what we expect from an average close up shot. Why follow the textbook when you can create your own.


A tribute to cinematographer Roger Deakins.
'I Refuse To Let Them Come Into This Space': Black cinematographer Bradford Young on his career...

Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” which chronicles Martin Luther King’s struggle to get Lyndon B. Johnson to pass the Voting Rights Act in 1965, is the Oscar contender everyone has been waiting for this year. But following the film’s first New York screening on Monday night, awards chatter wasn’t the only thing press members were buzzing about. It was Bradford Young, the 37-year-old cinematographer, who is credited with harnessing the film’s power.

“This is a collaboration I cherished. This is an artist who I believe speaks to us,” Young said about DuVernay during a Q&A after the screening. “Whatever image you see up there that you like, it was generated by her brain first and transfused to me.”

But it wasn’t just the work Young and DuVernay did together that left such an impact on the audience. Young’s words about being a black artist in America were profound and moving. “This is all I got,” Young said when asked by Adepero Oduye, who starred in “Pariah” (also shot by Young), how he balances anger at a lot of issues happening in this country right now with being a filmmaker and storyteller. “If I lose this … my wife is a midwife, I’ll just assist her or something.”

Young continued:

This is all I have. As a young black man, and as a black man with a family, this is how I keep myself from going to jail. I’m not going to let them undermine this. Every bit of energy I put into this is so we can collectively not be undermined. I know that seems utopian in the sense that this is just a movie, but for a lot of us who have been continuously shut out of it – and for me in particular as a cinematographer of color – I don’t see myself. So, for me, I use this as a space to keep myself sober, a space for me to be a logical, healthy citizen. As much of a contentious relationship I have with this country, as my grandfather would say, “I respect Marcus Garvey, but I ain’t going back to Africa with him. I’m going to get mine right here.” Though I am going to go back to Africa, too, this for me is what keeps me sober. They can intrude in my house. They can make me wonder in fear the fate and destiny of my son, who is a 15-month-old black boy and it’s real for my wife and I. That’s something we talk about everyday. They can come in my house in many different ways. They can come in my space in different ways, but I refuse to let them come into this space. Because this is what makes me a good husband. This is what makes me a good father. This is what makes me good brother. A good collaborator. This makes me a good community member. So I think we just have to be focused on … if it’s just [one thing] in our life that’s going to be sacred for us, so that we don’t get intellectually destabilized and culturally imbalanced, we have to fight for that. And be confident that it’s ours. This will keep us at peace.


Killing Them Softly

DOP – Greig Fraser  
Format - Arriflex 235 35mm  50D 250D 500T
Lenses - Panavision G-Series Anamorphics  
Aspect Ratio - 2.35 : 1
Delivery - Digital Intermediate 2K

Notable Strengths – Anamorphic Framing and Utilization, Composition, Lighting, Low Light, Colour, Close Ups, Wide Shots, Tension Building, Tone, Consistancy


Emmanuel Lubezki - King of the Window

Lubezki (back-to-back Oscar-winning cinematographer) has solidified himself as one of the most important players in modern cinema. Attaching his name to a project carries as much weight as a Kevin Spacey or a Christopher Nolan in my mind. The man has a knack for camera movement that is truly incomparable.


Motos in Moab


This is a Public Service Announcement to watch this trailer and receive shivers by the unmatched image creation from DOP Adam Arkapaw.   


Amsterdam you were good to me

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DP/30: Bradford Young (Selma, A Most Violent Year, Mother of George)