Saturday, 25 August 2007

Forties lighting

One of my favourite things is rummaging about in secondhand bookstores for that rare treasure. Sometimes you find something and other times you don't but in a book & antique shop in Wooler, Northumberland i found a book about lighting - published way back in 1940.

Lighting for photography by Walter Nurnberg was sat on a shelf eight feet up; i actually had to climb a ladder to get to the book but it was well worth the climb. I've always been a fan of the forties style of lighting that defined the era's films. Casablanca, Rebecca and Odd Man Out are just three forties films that used light to the max. Darkness, shadows and highlights were all part of the film experience, the light often used to focus the audiences attention and create mood.

Ironically the book was first published during the war when film and paper were in short supply. Photography, within a year of the book being published, was put under the tight control of the authorities where it would remain until the end of the war. The book's author actually got called into service before his book was published; another person proofed the book on the author's behalf.

Lighting for photography is a fascinating look at the world of photography sixty seven years ago. Some of the details are out of date but a good 90% of the book is still useful to the modern day photographer. Am i going to try some of the lighting setups? Yes i am and I'll be posting some of the images and how i took them on the blog over the winter months.

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