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, ...

Get Documentary for the Small Screen now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.