American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 79

For day scenes
along the trail,
Vallée and
Bélanger worked
almost entirely
with natural light,
even eschewing
the controlling
tools
of blacks
and bounces.

asked me to do this kind of shoot five
years ago, I would have said no,"
Bélanger says. "It would have been
possible in 35mm, but a lot of the time
it would have been foggy and grainy.
But with the Alexa there is so much
range in the blacks and whites that I
wasn't scared."
The director told Bélanger that
he wanted him to walk with
Witherspoon wherever she went on the
PCT and be able to rack-focus from
very close on her to infinity. Despite the
intended 2.40:1 aspect ratio, anamorphic lenses were quickly nixed. "[Vallée]
said the flares are very obvious and
almost too beautiful," says Bélanger.
"And anamorphic lenses have a minimum focus of 3 to 4 feet, so I wouldn't
have been able to start as close as 15
inches like we wanted to." Instead, for
nearly every shot in the wild, the cinematographer used Arri/Zeiss Master
Prime T1.3 lenses. He shot mostly at
T2, and if he needed to go up half a stop
to keep two characters in focus, he
would simply bump the ASA from 400
to 800.
Vallée estimates they shot 90
percent of the movie on a 35mm lens,
with the remainder predominantly on a
25mm or 50mm. "The 35mm provides
a nice close-up," the director says. "The
emotion in a scene comes from [establishing] the right distance between the
audience and the actors."
When Strayed is off the trail and
near a phone, she calls her ex-husband,

Paul (Thomas Sadoski), whose apartment is lit by practical lamps and
candles. Paul is in the foreground, while
the living room behind him is soft.
Bélanger shot 20 inches in front of the
actor with the 35mm lens. "Because I'm
closer, we see the roundness of his face,
and the [background] is out of focus,"
he explains. "It's more human, real and
sensuous."
The production's Master Prime
selection, which ranged from 18mm to
150mm, was supplied by Portland's
Koerner Camera Systems, which also
provided the show's camera package.
On a rare occasion, the crew staged
long-lens shots with the camera on a
tripod - for example, to capture heat
www.theasc.com

waves off the distant desert ground, and
for a scene in which a parched and
famished Strayed chases after a field
worker (W. Earl Brown) as he drives his
tractor at sunset. The latter shot was
done on a 200mm Nikon Nikkor lens
with a doubler.
For flashbacks, Bélanger used
older, somewhat softer Zeiss T1.3 Super
Speeds, including the 18mm, 25mm,
35mm, 50mm and 85mm. These came
into play for an exterior scene in which
a strung-out Strayed walks among
fellow heroin users. A deathly, desaturated look was achieved partially
through production design, costumes
and makeup, and was pushed further by
colorist Marc Boucrot of Film Factory
January 2015

79


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - January 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 9
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 10
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 11
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 12
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 13
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 14
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 15
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 16
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 17
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 18
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 19
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 20
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 21
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 22
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 23
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 24
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 25
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 26
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 27
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 28
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 29
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 30
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 31
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 32
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 33
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 34
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 35
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 36
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 37
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 38
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 39
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 40
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 41
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 42
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 43
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 44
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 45
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 46
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 47
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 48
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K1
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K2
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K3
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K4
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K5
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K6
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K7
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K8
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K9
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K10
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K11
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K12
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 49
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 50
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 51
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 52
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 53
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 54
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 55
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 56
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 57
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 58
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 59
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 60
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 61
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 62
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 63
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 64
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 65
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 66
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 67
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 68
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 69
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 70
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 71
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 72
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 73
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 74
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 75
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 76
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 77
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 78
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 79
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 80
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 81
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 82
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 83
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 84
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 85
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 86
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 87
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 88
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 89
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 90
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 91
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 92
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 93
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 94
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 95
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 96
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Cover4
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