My signature or the part you saw all the time…

Richard Lund actor, Richard Lund in tuxedo, translite photographer, translites

Richard Lund just about to have a thought…

Sometimes I really got exposure. Tim Russert made sure it went on for a long time just by doing a great job in his work.

Meet The Press. Iconic show. And Tim Russert. Iconic journalist on NBC. “If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet The Press.” One could go on. But the show really was a staple for people on Sunday mornings and for a good reason. Tim Russert did his preparation and was determined to get the truth from his guests. When I was involved in the set through the invitation of Jim Fenhagen, we had the fun of making it work for High Definition Television. Last time I showed the map of the world. This time, the background that wrapped around the set. The center of the set was an angular table with Russert at the head. Most of his guests sat to his right and from what is called camera left in television. We made little Meet The Press logos on duratrans that fit into frames. They were made to simulate a little open hanging wall of monitors- tv’s in layman terms. Having a transparency was easier then putting in the actual screens and made the operation of the set easy. Along the camera right side was the map. And surrounding the whole shooting match was a long set of transparencies printed on vinyl. Jim had the idea of making a set of monuments in park as the concept. So that is what we did. The long wrap ended up 129 feet long. I will show the middle of it, the part behind Russert’s chair.

But first, I will talk a little about the shoot. I spent around a week on it. Late summer, if I remember. One thing about taking pictures in DC is the overlapping jurisdictions. Peggy Pridemore was my guide on these things. She is one of two very memorable location people in DC. (The other being Michael Wallace- not the news guy but the guy from Richmond.) Peggy knew people. The important folks. Not senators and congresspeople, but the folks who controlled the media’s access to places. She put me in touch with the National Park Service lady. I had to get her on board first. Then, the Capitol Police were key on this one. They were about 1500 strong when I did this shoot. They have the job of protecting Congress. And by connection, the Capitol Building- the area being called Capitol Hill. Lots of office buildings, a little underground rail line, and also they go when Congressional members travel. Most people know the Secret Service who protect POTUS or the “President of the United States.” But not everyone knows the name of the Capitol Police.

I got the required permit from them. It gave me permission to do something not easy to do- put down a tripod with a camera on it. Hand hold any camera you want in that area and you are fine. But tripods are no-no’s. It all started with Billy Jack Goes to Washington. The movie. Okay, so you never heard of it maybe. But it was an indie feature that came to shoot in DC at the Capitol. And they brought all the ruckus of a film crew and extras and made a scene of a public demonstration or some such and really MADE A SCENE. So, after that, no more movies around the Capitol. At least no tripods. Now, of course, a few folks got to do a few things. I have shot from the Speaker’s office and from Ways and Means offices and some other places. But it seems that someone has to know someone for that to happen. Another story.

Back to Meet The Press. Since it was for a news show, that presented a whole other picture. First amendment freedom of the press rights. I could put the camera down and shoot my 8X10. I had to still carry it in from the car parked a ways off, but I could roll my cart in with it and shoot. I remember shooting the Supreme Court Building that way and especially the US Capitol. I set up late afternoon one day on the Capitol lawn. In a few minutes a nice Capitol police officer came strolling up and wanted to know what I was doing there with my stuff. I loved whipping out my permit and just staying put. It did not hurt that the shoot was for Meet The Press, either. That show had a solid reputation. Thank you, Tim Russert.

So here is the middle. Note the balustrades. (Click on the picture for a bigger version. Still tiny.) I had to cut around every one for the sky to show through. When I have a translite background on a show seen with high frequency, I call it my signature.

Meet The Press translite, Meet The Press Capitol, Richard Lund's US Capitol

The genuine US Capitol Building that sat behind Tim Russert every Sunday

Tim Russert Meet The Press, Richard Lund, Meet The Press, US Capitol landmarks
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The part you didn’t see…much

Richard Lund, Father Richard Lund, Paul Richard,
Arguing that “there is a fractal for that” Richard Lund

Back in the “we got to try out something new department…” Jim Fenhagen got me involved with a new project way back in the last century. In fact the last millenium. Somewhere around 1995…

Guy Pepper was the king of the look of NBC news in those days. He was the director of Dateline. It seemed to spill all over prime time in the nineties. Four nights a week for an hour and Guy would wrap it up with those famous words, “Good job, everybody, let’s do it all again on Tuesday.” or whatever night was next for the show. And he was very popular with the brass. He had an over the shoulder look at just about everything on NBC news. Jim Fenhagen was his go to designer, then partnered with Erik Ulfers at Production Design Group. They had their office in the fashion design neighborhood on 27th Street if I remember. Today I will show a little seen element. But first, the news…

Sometimes I get it wrong. I remember that we were making an update to the Meet the Press set in 1995 and 1996. Tim Russert was in the captain’s chair and I had a high respect for his work, shared by many. Never met him in person. But even by osmosis I was proud to work with him.

And I remember that this new project was for the purpose of making a set that would work well in high definition production. And I thought it made some firsts, like the first show regularly broadcast in Hi Def. I blurted this out last year in front of my friend Brandt Daniels. He pointed out to me that the Tonight Show was first to be broadcast in Hi Def and that he remembered that Sony came over and worked with them on the cameras and got it going. And I remember the Hi Def monitor in the control room where we studied the color when we were doing the new translites for the show in the late nineties. So he was right. But what did I remember? I see from wikipedia’s article that the Meet the Press show’s set was the first for Hi Def and that it was only broadcast locally that way. So I stood corrected.

I do remember that Jim had talked about how they had made a new table and that it had to be redone to be better because the cameras saw way too much detail. And I can remember thinking about the news anchors in coming days who would just age out with the wrinkles showing a bit too much gravitas. Not sure about that part.  And I imagined that the pull of television was in what we did not see on the screen and had to use our minds to imagine, locking us into the couch potato position with standard definition stories. I figured that with so much information in the new images, the mind could relax and disengage, causing a fundamental disconnect with the boob tube. None of which actually came to pass, of course. We have progressed from radio to television on greenish round tubes to square tubes to color pictures to flat screens to high def to 3D glasses and sound all around. Just keeps changing and people are still glued. I was wrong again. I guess. And what these new hand held screens on smart phones will do is nobody’s prophecy.

So here is the final world map I made for the Meet the Press wall where they put guest three and four. Lots of dreamy blur, background peacocks, and glowy land with blazes. The picture below this one was a first try from December of 1995. I like the February 1996 one better.

Hidden map of the world on Meet the Press, Richard Lund, NBC Peacocks on map

The final version of the World Map for Meet the Press, made on translite

Early version of Blue and Gold World map for Meet the Press, Richard Lund

Much more boring version. Yuck.

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Let the black and white reproduce way beyond Kodachrome colors…

Richard Lund Actor, Richard Lund translite photographer, Professor Richard Lund

Richard Lund presents his college lecture series…or just bores people, because it is his job.

How glamorous is Hollywood, anyway? Well, it depends on you point of view, I guess.

Sometimes I have been in on the beginnings of television shows. Got to work on most of the start ups for Law & Order. And today I will talk about a new kind of show- at least it was at the time for me- that I made some translites for back in the last century. (Sounds good to my ears. Last Century. Ooh!)

Just who would want to spend a half hour a day listening to the latest gossip about some celebrities, anyway?  I mean, come on. It is so out-there-in-left field. Or right field. I used to play right field in my second string little league games in Hopkins, Minnesota. They put me there so that I could keep the fly population down. Not fly balls. Flies. The mitt I had was perfect for swinging at them. And I was safe from most of the fly balls. I actually did miss one once. It was in practice. The ball got “lost in the sun” and it came down on me. My mitt missed it. But my face did not. Out I went. Not called out, like in base running, but out like a light out. Guess you can tell that I was okay with not pursuing a baseball career.

So, back to celebs. Yeah, so I have met a few. But, honestly, that doesn’t mean much. They aren’t going to call me to do lunch or hang out for coffee. Or read my script (if I had one) or cast me in their movie. Or anything else. So I don’t have a big interest. But I guess others do and did in 1996 when Akira Yoshimura called me up to have me make the translites for the new show. Akira is the guy from New York who comes to LA sometimes to do sets for television. He was the one who figured out how to change the Tonight Show set for Jay Leno so that it would work for him when he took over for Johnny Carson. It was the tongue. Jay Leno is good with his tongue. But not what I mean. It is the part of the stage that pulls out like a drawer from the set floor so that Jay is very up close and personal with his audience. Johnny Carson was more distant. Leno, the consumate stand-up comedian, did very well close to his audience. All kinds of other interesting, beautiful, dazzling elements went into Akira’s design, but the tongue gave Leno exactly what he needed.

Back to celebs again. Akira wanted me to make the translites for the Access Hollywood show in black and white and let the set lighting designer wash the color into them or not. A two-fer. Either way, the images would be iconic and interesting. And they could scream color or be boldly graphic alone. People look good in front of grays. Think Irving Penn. The oft imitated blotchy portrait backgrounds. And people look good. So Akira put it into the set. Here is my shot of the Hollywood sign at night. Okay, so I shot it in the daytime and did some retouching.

Hollywood sign, Richard Lund, Hollywood sign at night, Akira Yoshimura

The Hollywood Sign with some changes


Just a brief interruption. Take a look at my new project.


Within two years, they came up with another plan. Screaming color. Have a look.

Hollywood Hills view of Los Angeles, Richard Lund, Translite Los Angeles,

Way beyond Kodachrome color.

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Hanging out on the roof can be a good thing…

Orthochromatic photo, Richard Lund, Actor Richard Lund, Translite photographer

Just imagine what you would look like orthochromatically…

Every location that has two things is a great location. Water and bathroom top the list. I got what I needed in Atlanta last year.

This nice young lady called me up to arrange my trip to Atlanta to shoot for Fastball Productions last winter. Amy Lehman. Art department coordinator, if I recall correctly. Assignment: Atlanta skyline picture, day. We were making a translite.

When I arrived, I found myself in downtown Atlanta. At least I think that is where I was. Years ago I learned that every other big street in Atlanta is named Peachtree. They may have improved things, but I never found out for sure. The cool thing was that my location and my hotel were the same building. That has happened before, but it is rare. Scent of a Woman put me in the Waldorf. Accidental Tourist gave me digs at Place de la Concorde in the Hôtel de Crillon. And now, Atlanta. Not a big name place, but remember what I said at the top. Water, bathroom, and third but no less wonderful- sleeping room in the same building. Amazing.

On arrival day, I met with Barry Robison. Very prestigious movie right before the current one, Narnia movie in far away New Zealand. Very cool. And now- The Change-up. Now, I would think that with a name like that and a production company called Fastball Productions it would be a baseball movie. And I would think wrong. It is out now for a bit over a week and has lots of press and promotion. Maybe even a hot movie. Took a hit from the reviewers. I went to see it this morning because I wanted to see my backings. And there they were. But more on that below.

The reviewers said it was raunchy. Correct-a-mundo. Probably worse than junior high boy’s locker room humor, but I can’t say that because I haven’t been one for a long time. But it also had some belly laughs. And some genuinely touching scenes and some outstanding performances. And some great backings. I wonder if I am being a bit too self-serving. But I guess not. If Olivia Wilde takes time to visit Jay Leno and talk about her tattoo scene, I guess I can talk about my backings on an obscure blog.

So Barry and I met the first night. He gave me a pretty good idea of what he wanted it to feel like. He was going to be tied up for the shooting day, so I connected with Ian Gracie, his supervising art director. Genuinely in-the-street-with-a-walkie kind of art director. And also connected. I set up and shot some stuff the next morning from the hotel roof location, then descended to my ever so convenient room to do a quick composite and crop. Sent it to him via email. And he called me later to let me know that it was well received. And stopped by. I like that kind of connection. He respected me enough to let me do what I do and also was involved enough to make sure I satisfied his designer’s vision. Ian Gracie=good guy.

I actually had met Barry long before when he was working in New York at ABC. At least I think that I did. Long career. His and mine, I guess.

Food interruption. There is a good buffalo burger joint in Atlanta. Ted’s. I don’t know if Turner was the first owner or what, but it was a great spot for dinner. Ate there twice. Yummers. Back to our story.

Ian had said that they needed only a day shot. I hate to waste opportunities. Since I was set up, I found out that production and the location did not mind if I stuck around on the roof. So I did. We had some big clouds come through in the afternoon. Then, at sunset, the light was coming from the wrong side of the city to make a good sunset. But I did stick it out and shot the night as well. The haze was thick. Some of the lights had big ghosts. But I figured that we could fix it later, especially since it might be years and years before someone else would want it. Stock images are good to have. Especially if they match the day.

Well, we made the backing. The day one. They got it and put it up and shot it. And guess what? They called and said, hey, can we make a night one and how about a stormy day one? “Yes,” I replied. We can do that. Shooting more coverage helped me more than a little bit. If I have clouds and flat lit buildings, I can isolate the sky and make a really decent stormy shot. In the film, they opened up that scene some to make it less dramatic. Easy to do with a backlit backing. My favorite kind. And they really shot all of them. Big pieces of the scene, nicely blurred, but they “read” well. Some reasons: the art department gave them enough room from the set wall in the design of the set. The director of photography, Eric Edwards , really knows his stuff. I had not met him before this film, but I can tell he is all “hollywood” in his lighting and camera work. Today’s Bill Fraker. (Eric did not have a Panabar, however. This was Bill’s personal case from Panavision perfectly divided for ice on one side and bottles on the other. Really useful on a long night, I hear.) Might be others out there as good, but Eric really delivered the goods on this one. And I was involved at every step on my part, from shooting to retouching to printing, making the tests myself. And now I have three great examples of my work in a current film. And I feel good about it.

Joe Carracciolo, Jr. was the exec producer. Worked with him and his dad on past projects. Did not get a chance to say hi. Missed that. Another one of those in-the-street-with-a-walkie types.

In order, I present my three images. Day, stormy, night.

The Change-up movie, translite, Richard Lund, day Atlanta skyline

The first translite I made for The Change-up, Atlanta skyline. We moved one building closer.

 

Stormy Skyline Atlanta, Richard Lund, The Change-up movie translite

Paths and curves make a cloudy day into a stormy day.

 

Richard Lund, Atlanta skyline at night, translite of Atlanta

Glowing southern Peach, Atlanta


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Finally, a hotel with style…

Richard Lund Actor, Richard Lund translite photographer, Richard Lund tea drinker

Looking back, desperately trying to remember the 60's

Most of my time away travelling is spent in pursuit of my objective: making the best pictures I can for my translites. But sometimes I take a detour.

For twenty-seven years of my career as a translite photographer, I dragged around with me a lot of stuff. At least one 8X10 camera body, a really heavy tripod, three serious cases with sheet film holders – one with special adhesive holders for night shots, one or two lens cases, a polaroid processor and film holder, a case with a hundred or so four inch gelatin filters, assorted tiny accessories like the Hasselblad elbow – don’t ask, eight or nine Linhof cable releases, four light meters – two spot – one incident – one color, Schneider high quality loupes, a couple small flashlights, a measuring tape, a folding makeup mirror to see the f/stop settings when the camera was out the window, and a black cloth made by my wife embroidered with my name and made with velcro sewn in to attach to the velcro strip on the camera body. These all fit nicely into nine or ten ballistic nylon honeycomb plastic padded road cases or more when there were multiple cameras and tripods. Minimum of four hundred pounds. And the destination for out of town shoots was almost always going to be a hotel room. (One exception that comes to mind was a tent on the side of a glacier in Prince William Sound.) The main requirement of that room was that it would have a bathroom with no windows and hopefully a large counter so that I could unload and reload my film holders at the end of the day’s shooting. Black tape sealed the door of the bathroom, particularly at the bottom. Those who travel for business know the regularity of hotel rooms. Reasonably comfy, appointed with the necessary, sometimes maddening with marketing a variety of products and services, all at prices unreal except for travelers. But, who is complaining? Not me. Work was good to have and I loved it.

One shoot stands out in my mind today. For the hotel. The skyline was good, too. But just now, I am sharing the hotel interior. We were working in Denver. Our assignment was for skyline work, both in the center of town and by the rail terminal. We were just beyond the 8X10 stage, now working in digital capture. A lot less stuff to shlep. My son Neil was along as a second camera operator for one location where I could not get back and forth quickly across a big roof expanse. He has worked with me on several projects over the years. Chicago, the San Juan Islands, and Point Dume in Malibu come to mind as I think back just now.

Denver is not a big movie town historically. I was told that Perry Mason shot there in the old days. But I rarely got there for translite work. It is a town in transformation now, glorious skyscrapers, a good stadium or two, a great streetcar set-up, funky bars and bookstores, and one old really attractive hotel. Bill Arnold invited me to come to make a couple of backings for the movie called Nowhereland at the time. (Imagine That in release) And we ended up at the Brown Palace. It was the kind of place that had the large interior lobby, heavy furniture, a piano, lots of people watching, and a great little pub. Had a nice chat with the location person one night, hearing out what life was like in Denver and other places she had worked. Just the kind of place that Perry Mason would have met a client, I guess. Or maybe where his PI, Paul, would have overheard a crucial conversation.

The interior attracted me because the open space was surrounded by a beautiful balcony, lit by bulbs in fixtures mixing with suffused daylight from a large skylight. The bulbs were flourescent types trying to pass as “edisons,” making for a bit of green spike in the image, but this worked with the overall gold color scheme. The image I present is one version of the interior, stitched from a few frames, of course. In my ideal world, the bulb detail would have been retained. But I am pretty happy with the image otherwise. There is another version, but the shape does not fit this blog’s presentation format well. One of my favorite hotel interiors.

Brown Palace Hotel, Richard Lund, mixed light interior.

Brown Palace Hotel in Denver with lots of roughness

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©2011 Richard Lund, All Rights Reserved.

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String theory, a new way to see people…

Richard Lund actor, Richard Lund translite, man with apple, santa's day off

Somehow, I think better while holding an apple…

Some ideas take a while to percolate. Guess that is a word that is out of use. Hint: it has something to do with old fashioned coffee makers…

So, on this one, I go a ways back. All the way to White Palace, the feature set in St. Louis, Missouri. Jeannine Oppewall invited me to come to make a translite to back up the set where Susan Sarandon‘s character lived. She was a waitress at the White Palace restaurant, sort of what we used to call a greasy spoon. Yeah, I said waitress. Not a server. This was the eighties in St. Louis. The PC was still a toddler and PC was scarcely in use. Mostly people were just called names if they did not speak the way that the hearer wanted it to come out. We had just recovered from the ERA attempts, if I remember. Now, we are all a lot wiser and we either agree with conventional wisdom dispensed from New York’s news bureaus, Hollywood’s web servers, or our Imam, or guru, rabbi, talk show superstar, news comedy hour, or favorite republican woman we’d like to watch but not listen to, or we hold our words very close to the proverbial vest.

So Susan played a waitress, lived next to a used car lot with strings of lights across the lot, and they made an interesting look on what was below them. Sort of like what you get in the smaller county fairs in Minnesota on what is called the midway. There the lights are on the rides or all over the fronts of the side shows. The main thing is to notice what they do. Hundreds of point sources, randomly strung mainly above those wandering around. For the young folk, it is a way to escape the milder side of a midwest summer and while dressed in the raggedy cut-offs and crop tops, explore the meaning of life and love while listening to the racket of noise of ferris wheel motors and games of skill barkers and music, sweet-treat smells wafting on the summer air.

I attended a wedding set on a hill top somewhere near Malibu last year. Great setting. For the reception and dance, they had an area with lots and gobs of little lights, some white, some in colors, all in strings covering the whole area. I had my smaller camera along with a couple of really fast lenses and decided to try shooting people. Not entirely candid, but with the dim existing light I found, sort of making most of my subjects comfortable because the light levels were low. I find that people relax more when the lights are low. It worked with fairly high settings for the camera’s sensitivity and almost all wide open lenses, with slow shutter speeds. Hard to get precise focus. I had a lot that were not usable, but some were. And it brought back the feelings of the car lot in St. Louis and the midway at Olmsted County Fair.

Earlier this week I got a chance to replicate the lights. We were doing some work on my reel at a house that had strings of lights above the patio. Maybe left from Christmas or just for parties, who knows? But I got one of my actors to stay and let me play. I will post some of the work.

The first picture was just as the light was fading from the sky. We had the lights and the faint skylight. Have a look.

String of lights, Richard Lund, new lighting techniques

Actor under strings of lights and a faded sky

After a few minutes, the sky light had faded. I turned the camera and actor to see the subject lit by the lights alone and without seeing the background. I shot a few, then I set up two lights, one to give some definition to the background and some to shape his head and give a kick. Have  a look to see these two, then one more. I added a front light, large and high, to reveal his eyes more and give them a catchlight. I think the last one worked. At least for me. Have a look.

 

 Richard Lund, string of lights

Actor with the strings of lights alone

strings of lights, new lighting technique, Richard Lund,

Actor with the background trees lit, and light catching his face for shape

And the best.

 

string of lights, Richard Lund, new lighting technique

Shape, lots of sources, eyes light up with catchlights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Vintage cities show their roughness in lovely ways…

Richard Lund Actor, King Angmar from Dragonquest, translite photographer

Richard Lund played King Angmar in Dragonquest

People and buildings may not look much alike, but we can appreciate both for similar reasons: their roughness. Let’s have a look.

My travels sometimes take me to interesting places. I look at location photography from a completely self-focused perspective, even maybe in a crazy kind of way. This is my account of things. Yeah, you may think it is mostly silly, but there is a nugget of truth in with the pipe dream part.

Most of the time producers play the game by their rules. They control where I go on location to make translites. If they want to shoot on a sound stage for part of the movie, they will choose locations that can come on to the stage easily and make economic sense. They want to shoot the night scenes on stage, for example, so that call time can be at 6 am and wrap at 7 pm. That way they can still have a social life and tuck the kids into to bed, then wind up at the hot little card game, the jazz club, or the Mansion, (no, not that one.) And they might pick locations to move onto sets that are too dangerous or too humid or too boring or just too darn far away from their homes. I have imagined a kind of location lotto game that is completely rigged by the producers. It goes something like this. Chicago South Side: We go to stage! French Riviera: we have to shoot the real place to make the film authentic. Savannah college campus in the summer: stage! How could we get there and back in a day? Tahitian fishing village: We must build it to get the perfect light. In producer-speak, that means that it would be more fun to take the wife, the kids, the nannies, the translators, both puggles with the dog-walker, and the personal assistants to paradise on the studio’s dime.

Now, there are some places that genuinely are remote. Tibet… India… Australia and New Zealand… Alaska. And there are plenty of “grab-the-walkie, get-down-in-the-street, stay-up-all-night and get-the-shot” producers. But, remember, I am the one making the story up to fit my own personal bias. The truth is that there are two basic requirements for a good location: good water and a loo. All the rest is just a plus. But they better look good!

So, I do want to return to pictures and art and that kinda stuff and say that cities get more beautiful as they decay because the roughness goes up dramatically with each passing century. Keep away the wars and the bombs and the urban renewal folks, and you may just come up with some real architectural gems. True urban eye candy. Today I will show some from Shenyang, China. Not the center of the world, like Beijing’s Forbidden City, but at least home to the only Chinese Imperial Palace outside of Beijing. Shenyang is the capital of Liaoning Province, bordering North Korea. Shenyang is a city that reminds me a lot of Chicago, far enough north to get the snowy cold weather and filled with people spurred on to be industrious all the time. At least that what I saw when I was there visiting some friends of mine a few years back. The first picture is part of the complex of the Imperial Palace, if I recall.

Richard Lund's China, Shenyang Imperial Palace, Roughness in Chinese architecture,

Simple, elegant, Chinese building in the area of the Imperial Palace

Click on it to make it larger and feast your eyes on the intricate roughness. Visually yummie.

Roof figures on Chinese Imperial Palace, Richard Lund, Shenyang, Liaoning Province

Lots of figures on the roof to protect it. Beautiful mottling.

One more shot at roughness today and to depth cues. Here I present a picture of a little boy on a stairs up above a simple vegetable market in Xian. We escaped the Jade store in the block that was on the intinerary of the tour and found fresh food and lots to see for an hour or so. I don’t know his name. I just like his humanness, gladly imperfect with lucid eyes.

Chinese boy in red, Richard Lund, depth cue of focus,

Chinese Boy in red on stairs

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Making connections…

Richard Lund, actor, tea drinker, translite photographer, mad scientist

Mad scientist Richard Lund is surprised to see his experimental subject has disappeared.

So today I will talk about somebody who knows how to make connections. More about that in a New York minute…

Ken Hardy is a regular guy who works hard every day at a job he loves. Of late he has been the production designer for Law & Order: Los Angeles. Now, L&O (that’s what we call it at my house) is very dear to our hearts. It has not quite reached the level of a sacrament. It is not the video version of a desert father‘s homilies. But we do see a whole lot of it on our tiny little TV set. We watch the original flavor, the SVU version, we catch Criminal Intent, we even watched the Jury show when it was on. And, to our chagrin, CI and LA are toast. CI will live in re-run land until the Electro-Magnetic Pulse bomb takes out our video feeds, but LA just did not make enough episodes. So maybe, just maybe, we will have to plunk down the money and buy the iTunes version or whatever. Dick Wolf would be welcome at our kitchen table, just so you know. I have not met him so far, but I did find work on some of his shows over the years. We are so bad that we study the UK versions to learn how to talk Brit L&O. “Would you like a cuppa?” “Crown Prosecutors” “DS (Detective Sargeant) Brooks” The orphan was Crime and Punishment. We did not connect much with C & P, though. Must have been a bad year for TV addiction.
Back to Ken Hardy. I met him on The West Wing. He was the man who carried the ball of production design for many years. Most of the show, in fact. The sets just seemed to go on and on in a warren of hallways across a couple or three sound stages at Warner Bros. They were so good that they photographed better than the real White House’s West Wing. You will remember President Bartlett. He was somewhere between Bush 41 and Obama, if you recall. The only problem with his administration was that stupid term limit amendment…

So Ken called me up one day and wanted me to make yet another backing for their series. The West Wing was the series that made the most backings with me of any other in my career. (Maybe 20? All backlit vinyl.) And we got to shoot the real place. Twice. More about that another time. This time, the location was Warner Bros. in Burbank. Ken explained that he wanted to make a backing of a hallway that connected one section of set to another. That way, if they wanted to strike one section, they could and just put up the hallway backing so that the first section could still be fully utilized. Make a backing of a set. Now that is a connection!

So off I went and shot it. There is a little trade secret for scale photography that I use to make hallways work. I learned it years ago and applied it for the first time on a show for Bo Welch. So it was a tune I already knew how to play. They put the lights on the set for me, I shot it and bam! connection made. And here is the West Wing’s version of the West Wing hall.

Long hallway in West Wing, Ken Hardy's connection, Richard Lund, translite

Ken Hardy knows how to make connections. He calls Richard Lund.

I like the fan details. And the colors. And the lighting. And can you guess? The roughness! Yes! But I should. It is real television design by my friend Ken Hardy.

On a completely side note, the Electro-Magnetic Pulse Bomb may not come to us, who knows?. But there is something in the newer versions of the EA-18G Growler that makes military leaders want it. Keep your sensors open if you like military hardware. This one could be a game changer in future conflicts, according to one source.

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Another guy named Dick…er, Richard

Richard Lund, King Angmar in Dragonquest, death scene, translite photographer

Either I am facing a fire-breathing dragon or I am staring down a deadline…

You may not know his name, but you have seen his style. Another guy who called me Dick.

We Dicks get along fine with one another. I see that a news reader got into serious hot water of the name this past week, but it never gets me in trouble. Because I am one. A real guy named Richard, nicknamed by a chosen few as Dick. I am fine with Richard, of course. Richard the Lionhearted, Richard the Third, Little Richard, Richard Pryor, Richard Burton, for his acting at least. Richard Nixon, I talked about him before. I have had some friends who I called Dick and who returned the favor. One was Dick Sylbert, production designer, movie mogul, card player, and style setter. He was one of the famous Sylbert brothers, the other being Paul Sylbert. Both were production designers and both were famous for their work. I worked with Paul on one feature that I remember. But I did translites for Dick on about ten or eleven, depending on whether I count Dick Tracy.

Richard Sylbert set styles. I think that he personally put the Wagoneer on the map for Jeep. His maroon Jeep with faux wood paneling was the traveling billboard for that brand as he drove it on and off movie lots every day. And he had a signature outfit. He wore safari clothes long before Banana Republic was open. He designed films like Shampoo, Rosemary’s Baby, Breathless (US version), Chinatown, and Dick Tracy. He was head of feature production at Paramount Pictures for a season.

The pictures I will show today were from one of his lesser known films, Partners. The film was set in West Hollywood. I remember driving with Dick one day on Highland in Hollywood and hearing him remark about a particular stretch of it because it still looked like it did fifty years before. He talked about how it could be shot for a period film with almost no dressing.

The pictures below were for an apartment set. They backed up the front door and window. We made translites, black and white film backings. These were hand developed in a bathtub in four foot wide strips and then seamed together. We could add a little color with oils. I don’t recall how much we tinted these, but it was probably very minor.

roughness, depth cues, West Hollywood, Richard Lund, Richard Sylbert, Partners

This shows the depth cues and the style for which Richard Sylbert was famous.

Richard Lund, Richard Sylbert, translite, West Hollywood, large flashbulb photography

Night scene from Partners, using fill flash from a number 2 flashbulb

For this assignment, I shot with an 8X10 view camera on black and white film. I used Super XX for the day scene and both that and some Ilford HP5 for the night. The illumination on the walls closest to the camera came from using a single large flashbulb reflected agains the wall of the building. I experimented with these large flashbulbs until they became scarce. We even had a Bowens Blaster which was a flash bulb holder and reflector that could fire four bulbs sequentially or all at once. These bulbs had the same edison screw base that household light bulbs have today. They could replace lights in household fixtures and be fired by simply turning on the wall switch. I think that some may be available today, but coming from a special factory in Ireland. The Bowens Blaster is long gone.

My own history of nicknames has a catalog of variants. Grandma T called me Dick. To my friends in elementary, I was Richard. Early high school brought about Rik. If I recall it was from the Civic Theatre. I forsook that as a strategy in the film business, going back to Richard. (Who would spend six figures with a guy named Rik?) But my friends who shared my name often called me Dick. Dick Berger, Dick Bernot, Dick Sylbert. And my dear God Mother had the most fun. I was Dickie Bird to her. Maureen was a constant in my life and still has the bouyant joy of life today.

Maureen Rosenberger, Richard Lund, god mother,

My God Mother Maureen, who sometimes called me Dickie-Bird

Richard Sylbert’s wife attended the reception for Princess Diana when she visited Los Angeles many years ago. I was reminded of her lovely lacy elegant maroon gown that she showed me when the news covered the weekend visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to Los Angeles. While Dick Sylbert might have still been on the guest list had he still been with us today, I do not rate this type of recognition. (Papa-rati, not glitterati) I am okay with that. I find myself perfectly happy to dine with my own kids and hear their stories and delight in my grandkids, to date four in number. So far, no one named Richard. It could be one of those names who comes back into style. But methinks not for a while, so long as a president can be insulted with it. :)

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Just the house across the street…

Richard Lund, actor, translite photographer, 8X10 photographer

Roaming the world with my 8X10, here outside of Frost, Minnesota

Sometimes I shoot pictures of the proverbial “house across the street.” Okay, mostly boring stuff…

It happens that a production designer wants a translite photo backing of the house just opposite the “hero” location. This can be at street level or it could be several floors up. I will show you some of these pictures today. Just ordinary stuff for the most part. But I did solve one problem along the way. You’ll see.

The first shot I will show is from St. Paul, Minnesota. One of my clients, I’m thinking it was Boyd Dumrose, at a New York soap All My Children, had requested a location that would belong to his character. He made a suggestion. “It should be the kind of a house on a street car line.” I often use Minnesota as my “back lot” for locations because people there are still friendly to film folks. They have yet to be burned and sometimes even think that what we do in Hollywood is kinda cool. I guess it can be, but the translite part is devoid of movie stars and paparrazzi. Nikke Fink and TMZ do not vie for an interview. My designer knew what he wanted and his simple description really set the tone. I actually found the house on a former streetcar line. I can’t recall if it was on Selby or Grand. This is going back a ways in time. Photoshop 3.0 had just come out. I had a bit of digital repair work to do on the house. I decided to do in in the Adobe software. Only problem was the memory requirement. I had to buy more RAM two times to get it done. I am glad it is cheaper now. :)

Saint Paul, Selby street, Richard Lund, translight photographer

Streetcar line house tells part of the story for a soap opera.

Another house across the street scene came up in Spider-Man 3. Marko, better known as Sandman, was a character who needed to climb up to enter his daughter’s bedroom at night. Production designer Michael Riva and his supervising art director David Klassen showed me a house in a unique part of Brooklyn. New York City streets are often fairly narrow. Widths in Manhattan are often 30 or 32 feet wide, curb to curb. Sidewalks can be 6-12 feet wide as well. But this particular street was so narrow that the house was only about 27 feet from the wall of the house I was in. I decided to use digital capture for this shot. Sam Raimi, the director of the film, expressed a bit of concern when I told him about this at an accidental meeting at the door of the Essex House, but I assured him that I had shot film as well, so we would be covered. Sam did not remember my name or even what I did exactly at first, but he recognized me and was warm in his greeting and genuine in his interest. Perhaps one day we will work together again. That would be fun.
This is the finished shot. I had to do a pan in order to get the scale right on the house. The part of the image on the right side came from another location near the Manhattan Bridge.

Spider-Man 3, Richard Lund, Translite photographer

Marko's set translite in final form

Spider-Man-3 Apartment, Richard Lund, Translite photographer

Original apartment photo from Spider-Man 3

Spider-Man 3, Richard Lund, translight photographer, Manhattan Bridge

Manhattan Bridge view near DUMBO, Spider-Man 3

Steve Saklad asked me to shoot a backing plate for him in Southern California to use in a film he was designing to be principally shot in Germany. He said that we would be matching a location that their company would shoot on location in the course of production. But they wanted to do the work on the sound stage first and then, after traveling to LA, do the location. Not uncommon in my experience. My LA art director was my friend James Truesdale. After reviewing the set drawings, I discovered a bit of a challenge. Our view, in the translite, started on the left looking up the street, leveled off and running straight for a ways directly across the street, and then turning again to cover the right, as well as covering the view from the front door of the house, which actually was 90 degrees from the view across the street. And in one piece. There are a couple of ways to shoot a long panorama, as you may have noticed before in my posts, and one is rectilinear, the other spherically panned. One gives me as long a pan as I need and the other can cover around 120 degrees max. I had never combined them in one translite backing before, but why not? I tried it. It worked.

What I present is a work showing the two forms blended. There is a tree in the foreground that was removed later and the sky was replaced later as well. Steve wanted to deal with the sky with his own art department and also had it printed locally, so what you see is the end of my work before I passed it off to Steve’s able hands. You can see a funny thing as the curb runs right through the bare foreground tree. Not to be considered for those photoshop mistake sites, please. Just a work in progress. :)

mixed panorama, Richard Lund, translite photo, translight background, Apparition

Panorama style translite from upcoming feature film of the "house across the street."

Oh, yeah, I forgot, this is the house across the street that has not been built yet…
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