Painting with Light

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By John Alton

Few cinematographers have had as decisive an impact on the cinematic medium as John Alton. Best known for his stylized film noir classics T-Men, He Walked by Night and The Big Combo, Alton earned a reputation during the 1940s and 1950s as a consummate craftsmen through his visual signature of crisp shadows and sculpted beams of light. No less renowned for his virtuoso color cinematography and deft appropriation of widescreen and Technicolor, he won an Academy Award in 1951 for his work on the musical An American in Paris.
First published in 1949, Painting With Light remains a canonical statement on the art of motion-picture photography, and an unrivaled historical document on postwar American filmmaking. In simple, non-technical language, Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques and choice of locations determine a film's visual palette. Todd McCarthy's introduction provides an overview of Alton's career and his influence on contemporary cinematography, and the foreword, by award-winning cinematographer John Bailey, ASC, explores Alton's often-contentious relationships with colleagues and the industry itself.
Film Noir's Sorcerer of Light: John Alton
by John Bailey
Through a Lens Darkly: The Life and Films of John Alton
by Todd McCarthy
by Todd McCarthy and Dennis Jakob
1. Hollywood Photography
2. Motion Picture Illumination
3. Mystery Lighting
4. Special Illumination
5. The Hollywood Close-up
6. Outdoor Photography
7. Symphony in Snow
8. Ocean Voyage
9. Visual Music
10. The Portrait Studio
11. The Laboratory
12. Day and Night, Ladies, Watch Your Light
13. Motion Picture Theaters
14. The World Is a Huge Television Studio and We Are All Photographers

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