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11 June 2013

Visual brilliance, and on doing things the hard way

It's an exhausting process, the uploading of files.  I'm pulling together all the material for a book, and one of the downsides to using YouSendIt is that if I don't remember to change the expiry date to 'never', typically the folders can expire because at the time I send the files the recipient might have been tied up or just too busy to download them, and then when they come to download them they have expired!  Alas!!!!!  But YouSendIt seems to have morphed at bit to include the capability to share folders (much like DropBox which I didn't find as useful), and I hope that this might be a handy option. The only problem again in the uploading time!  But it's nice to know that you can have copies of your important work 'in the ether' that can be accessed or shared easily when either I'm on the road or unable to access the hard drive the original images are stored on.

Incidentally, I've been watching The West Wing on DVD, in the background while I do bookwork at night.  It makes my house less quiet, and I like the series, probably because I've always had a strong interest in US Politics.  I watched my favourite scene the other night, from the episode called "Two Cathedrals" which was the final episode of Season 2.  Another viewer called it possibly the finest 41 minutes of television history.  I think it's a superb episode, and the final 6 minutes is brilliant.  I think it's a brilliant combination of scripting, of cinematography, and a wonderful display of creativity, and is an incredible demonstration of putting an emotive piece of music to something that is visually so powerful.

It's set to one of my favourite pieces of music, Dire Straits' "Brother's in Arms".  Watch and see what you think.  You have to understand the show a little bit to get some of the subtleties of the clip, in particular the bit at the end where President Bartlett puts his hands in his pockets.  But I guess for a photographer, it is our job to watch and learn about people's habits, and how we do things, and to record an event in a way that will inspire others.  I guess that's why I get this scene so much.  The only thing that frustrates me is that they didn't (in fact, most films and TV shows repeat this error) use real photographers to play the press corp photographers.  A true photographer will pick the eyes out of the actors playing the photographers!  But to criticise this 5 or 6 minutes of brilliance for that is to be a little picky.  It's just a little something I've been wanting to share for a while.  I think it would be best shared on a big television, in the evening, sitting together with a glass of wine, but I think it's worth watching.

It contains wonderful directing of the eye, wonderful use of light, and wonderful use of going from a close-up to the wide angle.  At the very end of the clip when he enters the press conference, there is a close-up of the President, as he turns to his right, and looks into the face of the journalist who he was going to ask the safe question to, and in his face you can see his mind tossing up 'Safe option? Courageous option?'  The close-up shows him looking away from the safe option, and chosing to do what was important to him, and he calls on another journalist.  All that emotion is played out through the use of the close-ups, before panning out to a wide angle of the whole room.  It's beautifully shot.

The clip I've grabbed below from YouTube starts just after 'Mrs Landingham' says to President Bartlett before her ghost leaves the room was "You know, if you don't want to run again, then I respect that.  But if you don't run because you think it's going to be too hard, or you think you're going to lose, well god Jed, then I don't even want to know you"

Those who understand me properly know that I love the close-up.   But this clip teaches someone like myself how to appreciate the effectiveness of the wide-angle when used properly.  Ok, as long as this doesn't involve a wide-angle lens shoved up against a horse's nose (that's forbidden!).  I hope you enjoy it, and get it, as much as I do.......


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