John Lindley: Shooting Color and B&W

From American Cinematographer, Black-and-White in Color by Bob Fisher (November 1998)

Lindley made several accommodations to shooting color film for conversion to black-and-white. He used hard light to get crisp separations in scenes with monochrome characters. He also used a dimmer control board for lighting transitions when a black-and-white person left an area and a color character moved in.

"The black-and-white characters would be hard-lit, even though they were occupying the same space where we had soft light on a color character. Almost every light was wired to a dimmer board. The operator watched a monitor with a live video feed from the tap on the camera. We did a lot of cues on the fly as people moved around sets.

Your eye naturally goes to color in a black-and-white world. If you pick up a newspaper that has one color photograph and a bunch of other black-and-white ones, everybody looks at the color one first. It's human nature."

- John Lindley, ASC

He further explains that the same dynamic applies when there are color and black-and-white characters in the same shot.

"That was great if [the black-and-white person] was the character Gary wanted to highlight. But if it was a two-shot and he wanted to feature both characters, I sometimes adjusted the composition to give the black-and-white person a little more prominence."

- John Lindley, ASC

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