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Documentary for the Small Screen by Paul Kriwaczek

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Chapter 6

The Lens

The use of the lens in film-making is sometimes described as ‘painting with light’. The metaphor suggests that using a camera lens is like using a brush: that the result is under the total control of the user, the artist. That is not really the case. A lens acts on the light rays which pass through it according to the laws of physics. The photographer, still or cine, and the film-maker who directs the photographer’s efforts, is actually working with those laws and their consequences.

It is probably most useful to think of the camera lens as a viewer’s eye, borrowed for the occasion, and directed towards whatever the film-maker wants the viewer to see. Like a human eye, a camera lens is a converter of three dimensions to two, ...

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