Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. Best kwn for his highly stylized film ir classics T-Men , He Walked by Night , and The Big Combo , Alton earned a reputation during the 1940s and 1950s as one of Hollywood's consummate craftsmen through his visual signature of crisp shadows and sculpted beams of light. No less rewned for his virtuoso color cinematography and deft appropriation of widescreen and Technicolor, he earned an Academy Award in 1951 for his work on the musical An American in Paris . First published in 1949, Painting With Light remains one of the few truly canical statements on the art of motion picture photography, an unrivaled historical document on the workings of postwar American cinema. In simple, n-technical language, Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques, and choice of locations determine the visual mood of film. Todd McCarthy's introduction provides an overview of Alton's biography and career and explores the influence of his work on contemporary cinematography and the foreword, written expressly for this edition by award-winning cinematographer John Bailey, explores Alton's often contentious relationships with colleagues, the American Society of Cinematographers, and the movie industry itself.
John Alton (1901-1996) was a Hungarian-born master cinematographer. His work ranged widely, including sharp-shadowed film noir classics such as He Walked By Night, Anthony Mann westerns, musicals (including An American in Paris, for which he won an Oscar), and many others. Painting with Light embodies his versatile, beautiful, often mannered, approach to lighting a film; he insisted that naturalistic lighting was only one option among many, and that directors ought to use light creatively to suit their vision and their story. Todd McCarthy is chief film critic of Variety, co-editor of The King of Bs (1975), and writer and co-director of the award-winning documentary Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992). John Bailey is an award-winning cinematographer and blogger for the American Society of Cinematographers who has written many articles and think-pieces on the transition from celluloid to digital film making. John Bailey, a director of photography since 1978, has photographed more than 75 feature films and documentaries. He serves on the Boards of Governors of the ASC, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the National Film Preservation Board.