DPP Home Profiles Nels Israelson - Lights, Camera, Action

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nels Israelson - Lights, Camera, Action

Nels Israelson does more than put the public face on Hollywood's biggest blockbusters. He sculpts light and creates a distinct mood that makes his photographs stand out.

Lights, Camera, Action L.A. photographer Nels Israelson's biggest clients are the Hollywood studios who call on him to photograph the eye-catching ad campaigns that promote their movies. Many of these images, like the shots he did for last year's summer blockbuster Spider-Man 2, are so painterly that many viewers may not recognize them as photographs. Israelson shoots these assignments knowing that there will be extensive postproduction processing of each image, and it dictates every move he makes in the studio—from the lights he uses to the lenses he selects. Every decision is made to provide the precise elements he thinks he'll need for compositing in the computer, yet also allow enough room for creative experimentation down the line.

Working In “The Industry”

“The process of working on such a campaign is a mixed blessing for me as a photographer because so much will happen in post after I shoot,” Israelson explains. “The goal, after all, is not to make a pure photograph—it's to make a compelling image that excites moviegoers and gives a glimpse of what the film is about. With Spider-Man, in particular, we're dealing with a character whose powers allow him to defy physics and ignore the normal limits on the human body. Those images involved cheating on perspective, on gravity, on physique.

To accomplish this, we needed to generate a lot of overlapping coverage. For example, I shot several series of the character, using both ends of a 45-90mm zoom in adjacent frames while I moved in and out. In post, the compressed upper body could then be composited with a stretched wide-angle perspective of the legs—matching the way you often see Spidey in the comic illustrations.”


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