All photographs, by definition, are “period” images. They capture a time and place that is ephemeral, and, in essence, gone the moment the shutter is snapped. Never again will what that shooter saw through the frame be exactly the way it was when he or she pushed the button on the camera. The same can be said for unit stills captured on period movies; even if the production has the ability to re-create a place, a time, a feeling over and again on a set or location, that moment captured through the lens by a Local 600 photographer – an actress warming herself under a big HMI light, a group of young background actors playing in a Slovakian square, an old Chevy Impala speeding mysteriously off into the night – is fleeting and one-of-a-kind. For our annual Shooting Gallery spread, featuring the very best of our members’ work-for-hire, we turn back the clock (and occasionally push it all the way forward) to highlight imagery captured during the production of features or television with period content. Diane Arbus once noted, “The more specific you are (with an image), the more general it will be,” and what is most surprising about the following photographs is not only their specificity for a lost time and place, but the energy and life contained within. As William Faulkner wrote, “Time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life.”
This image was taken in Oregon on a Hallmark film. The young boy, who played a prominent roll, had a beautiful and expressive face. As is often the case, it was a sudden and available moment in time – cameras weren’t rolling and the director was in conference. I had a Sony 828 camera on my shoulder. I use it for shots normally unattainable with my blimp. It has an electronic, virtually silent shutter, which offers a depth of field unmatchable on my larger more expensive Canons. Holding focus on all four subjects at such close range created the look and highlighted the quiet charm of the young boy.
Specs: ISO 200, f5.6, 7.1 mm at 1/100th
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hallmark Hall of Fame
This image of Mariel Hemingway warming herself between set-ups in front of a large HMI light was captured in early April 2006 on The Golden Boys (aka Chatham), an independent feature directed by Daniel Adams. The location was Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which can get very chilly that time of year!
Specs: Canon 20D, Tamron 11-18mm lens, f13, 1/400sec, processed with Capture 1 version 4, slight retouch in Adobe Photoshop.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Daniel Adams
Hilary Bronwyn Gayle
Red 71 is a neo-noir murder mystery complete with private eyes, seedy characters, and dangerous women. The script was set in the 1950s, and director/producer Patrick Roddy asked me to shoot traditional black and white to match the film-noir look planned for the movie. However during post-production, Patrick made the decision not to convert the movie to black and white. In order for the black-and-white film stills to represent the full-color movie, I developed my own method of digitally “hand-coloring” using Adobe Photoshop.
Specs: Mamiya 7, 50mm, f4.5, shot on Kodak Tri-X 320 ISO (pushed two stops for a grainy, high-contrast, film-noir look) Scanner: Epson V700, Post processing: digital hand-coloring using Adobe Photoshop
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Patrick Roddy
“Nail ‘em up” – For the climax of a stirring montage, Sean Penn’s candidate exhorts the crowd under the watchful eye of Jude Law’s cynical journalist. The location: an authentic, period general store in Louisiana. The light, provided by God as directed by the superlative Pawel Edelman, PSC, makes use of the day’s last rays and not much else. I selected a very wide lens to take in the ambiance and to emphasize the echoing diagonals of sunlight, counter and shelves, focusing the viewer’s eye to the gesturing politician as he advises the crowd to “nail up the bastards.” Three months later local citizens wanted to nail up another crop of bastards as Hurricane Katrina slammed into the state.
Specs: Canon 1D Mark II, 18mm on Canon 16-35mm zoom, 1/125, f4, 100 ISO
This image is from the “Yahrzeit” episode of CSI: New York, which aired April 29, 2009. The portrait of a Jewish family is an evidence photo used in the crime investigation of a present-day murder in New York. The 1930s/’40s style portrait vignette effect has a softening filter and texture added in post by graphic artist Steve Runningen.
Specs: Nikon D3, f8 shutter on a 17-55mm f2.8 Nikor Zoom lens. WHITE LIGHTNING Strobes (two soft white reflector umbrellas and two honeycomb grids for highlights)
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ron Jaffe
This image, from an American Film Institute thesis film, The Butcher’s Daughter (2008), came about while the DP was hunting for the next shot and I had a bit of time to play with the talented actor, Megan Park. The rolling hills in the background and the grey light were the perfect backdrop for the feeling of isolation and uncertainty I wanted to convey.
Specs: Camera Nikon D200, lens: 28mm on a zoom, f9, ISO 320, 1/320th
Software: Lightroom 2 and Photoshop CS to de-saturate and set look
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jonah Bekhor/AFI
This shot was taken in 2001 in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. This is a huge square at one end of the massive Warsaw Ghetto set built along the Danube River for Uprising, an NBC miniseries directed by Jon Avnet for Brooklyn Films and NBC. These Slovak background artists were on break and avoiding the approaching sun along the edge of the shadow of one side of the street. The woman was not, I believe, the actual mother to any of these boys. But rather, had taken to scolding them mercilessly between takes and setups as if she were! The mischief on the face of the center boy says a lot. He and his compatriots were playing a pretty solid game of, “we don’t hear you, lady!”
Specs: Contax MT 167, 50mm lens, captured at 125th of a second at f11, with Tri-X pulled one-half stop.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of NBC Universal/Brooklyn Films
This photo was taken at a very small diner in the San Fernando Valley on the film Down In The Valley, and I shot this while they were rolling – my favorite time to shoot. The moment they say “cut” everyone on the set wants to move forward, and at that point it’s very difficult to recreate the mood of the scene and hold back an entire crew from moving on. Just recently I looked back at some of my work from this assignment and I was blown away at how different my stills looked when they were shot with film and not digital. They had more of a romantic feel to them.
Specs: Nikon F100, with a fixed 85mm lens and Kodak Porta 400 pushed to 800
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Summit Entertainment
Tony Rivetti, Jr.
This image is of Angelina Jolie, as Christine Collins in Clint Eastwood’s Changeling, sitting on her son’s bed holding his teddy bear after he was abducted. It was lit with nice, soft window light, and there wasn’t anything tricky or difficult about the shot. I leaned over the camera and simply clicked-off a few frames. This warm-hearted image of a mother trying to find solace by holding his teddy bear is something that any parent, me included, can relate to.
Specs: Canon 5D, 70-200 2.8L IS lens at 100mm, f3.2 at 200th sec, 1000 ISO
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Universal Pictures
“Pin-Up” – Working with the prop department on Cold Case, I know that I’ll get to re-create some of the most historical styles of photography. This episode was interesting to shoot because the photographs drove the story; they needed to be as authentic as possible. I used hot lights instead of strobes so the look would match the style of the pin-ups from that era. The final result was one of Cold Case’s most memorable episodes.
Specs: Canon 1D Mark II, 1/80th at f2.8, ISO 640 with 24-70mm at 35mm
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Justin Lubin
“Lords of Dogtown” – Zeppelin plus Red Bull equals…
Specs: Canon Mark II N, ISO 400, 1/640th of a second at 5.6
I shot this photo on the set of Stolen Lives of actor Graham Phillips who plays one of Josh Lucas’ sons. I had a fun, comedic rapport with all the kids and this helped to gain their trust and get this shot. We were traveling in a van from one location to another. The kids and I were playing around taking silly photos when I caught Graham in this moment. The expression on his face, especially in his eyes, along with the closeness of the camera and the wide angle really completes this image. I always work hard to gain a good rapport with all my actors because I believe it’s crucial in capturing moments like this.
Specs: Canon 5D, 24-70mm at 28mm setting, f4 at 1/100 sec, ISO 100 with no flash
Edited in Adobe Lightroom and slightly retouched in Adobe Photoshop
Photo Credit: Courtesy of A2 Entertainment Group, Inc.
Roll Bounce is set in the mid 1970s and features Bow Wow (centered). This scene takes place in a ritzy uptown rink called Sweetwater, where the gang finds a flyer for an upcoming roller disco contest. They want to enter to win the big bucks and be crowned the roller disco champions. We used a rich blend of colored theatrical gels for most of the roller rink scenes and this brought an occasional challenge in white balancing. I used the tungsten setting on the camera and would modify the RAW files to eliminate any over-saturation. I wanted to get a decent flesh tone, with all the hints of the scene’s rich colors. I also paid close attention to capturing the cast’s best facial expressions without too much overlap from my camera position. The disco music definitely brought back memories from my college years; I would catch myself bouncing around while shooting many of the scenes. I just couldn’t help it!
Specs: Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 24mm, ISO 1600, 1/50 at f5.6
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
I love photographing musicians and always try to capture the energy of their performance as well as the silence between the beats when they are at rest. I was given great access and opportunity by the actors and director Taylor Hackford to do portraits on the set of Ray with my cumbersome Pentax 6-by-7 film camera. Pawel Edelman’s lighting was exquisite but it was challenging shooting in nearly all practical locations in New Orleans and L.A. I was eight months pregnant when we wrapped and needed the full cooperation of everyone to make room for me in often impossibly cramped quarters! My son is 5 years old now and has an uncanny love for the music of Ray Charles.
Specs: Pentax 6×7, 105mm lens, Kodak Portra, ASA 400, pushed one stop, 1/60th of a second at f4.0
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Universal Pictures
“Into the Night”
This automobile photo was taken in Iowa on the film Peacock, starring Cillian Murphy and Ellen Page and shot by cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, ASC, AFC. I love the mystery of this image — the speed conveyed by a car driving into the inky darkness. Where’s it going? Who’s inside? This image also captures the palette of the film, the production designer Jeannine Claudia Oppewall used a lot of earth tones and subdued colors, and the feeling of mystery, like this image, resonates throughout the story.
Specs: Nikon D200, 17-55mm f2.8 lens, 1/13th of a second at f2.8, ISO 1600. Noise was reduced in a series of layers, and (exposure) level adjustments were made on the camera side of the car. Motion blur was added to the ground in Adobe Photoshop.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Cornfield Productions, LLC
Heavens Fall deals with the trial of the Scottsboro boys, which took place in Alabama in 1931. The defendants, charged with raping two white women, knew they would be found guilty; the trial is only being held to prove that a black man can get justice at this time in this place. This image shows the hopelessness of their situation. They sat chained in a courtroom, surrounded by an ocean of hatred and bigotry that was palpable. To get the angle I wanted it was necessary to move the camera out of position, which wasn’t an easy proposition, and clear equipment from the side of the set. Director Terry Green and 1st AD Matt Allen understood the importance of this still and gave me the time to get it.
Specs: Canon EOS 10D, Tamrom 28-105mm f2.8, taken at 58mm, 1/250 at f5.6, ASA 800
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Allumination Filmworks
Legendary director John Frankenheimer had stirred the crowd of extras into such a state of near-riot hysteria that another photographer, Jim McHugh, had already been sent to the hospital with a busted lip. Never willing to “push and shove” when it seems to be counter productive, I sat down and meditated. Suddenly, John yelled, “We need some people on the front of the car to sell the scene!” Grabbing a coat, stingy brim hat and trusty Leica, I volunteered to be on the front of the advancing car. When they rolled I got one shot of Gary Sinise, Terry Kinney and William Sanderson as they escaped the crowd before the car sped off. The lesson? I always have tried to rely on “higher guidance” to perform my job ever since!
Specs: Leica M6, 35mm Summicron lens at f2, 1/60th of a second, Kodak Ektapress 1600 pushed one stop
This scene is of Robert F. Kennedy being rushed from the Ambassador Hotel in 1968 after being shot. I was trying to replicate the feel and urgency of that horrific moment, and used a flash mounted on the camera with the shutter speed lowered to 1/30th of a second to give the shot a sense of motion. The “background” in this shot was, thankfully, completely focused on what was unfolding. Martin Sheen, who was a friend of RFK, was shown a print and said he had never seen this photograph of that night. He asked (writer-director) Emilio (Estevez) where he found it. “Our still photographer took it last night, dad.”
Specs: Canon 20D with 27-70mm, f2.8 flash mounted in a hot shoe