When David Linstrom agreed to be Director of Photography for the National Geographic
, with oceanographer Bob Ballard of The Titanic discovery fame, he knew he would be shooting in a tricky environment. As he packed up his camera supplies, he made sure not to forget his favorite lens—the Fujinon
HA13X4.5. We were recently lucky enough to ask Mr. Linstrom a few questions. Read on to learn more about his early days, how he combats challenging shooting conditions, the future of cinematography and more.
You shot the upcoming Oceanus
special for National Geographic
with Bob Ballard, otherwise known as the oceanographer that discovered the Titanic, among other famous ships. What were you most looking forward to about the experience?
Working with someone as renowned as Bob Ballard was a great experience. His wealth of knowledge about our oceans is amazing, his list of accomplishments is legendary and he's a very nice guy. He's interested in other people and what they do day to day and he's not afraid to go out on a limb. I shot him putting on a harness and stepping out of a helicopter to be lowered 100 feet onto a moving cargo ship.
Is there one instance you can pinpoint that turned you on to cinematography?
I started as a still photographer. I was always fascinated with photos of people and places from around the world. I grew up fascinated with Life
magazine and National Geographic
. Then I took a cinematography class in college and quickly forgot about shooting stills. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the still image. It's just that the moving image appealed to me so much more. I have a deep love for non-fiction and the wealth of stories from around the globe. There's something about moving images, sound, editing and narration that when combined, make for an amazing experience.
What do you view as emerging trends in cinematography today?
The most obvious trend is digital. Film cameras, which didn't change much for over one hundred years, are quickly becoming obsolete. Arri is no longer making them, neither is Panavision. Professionals are using consumer digital cameras to make fascinating images. It just keeps getting better. The cameras get smaller, sometimes to a fault. As an operator, I like a heavier camera. I like the mass, the ergonomics of it. Up to a point. I certainly don't long for the days of a 40-pound camera on my shoulder or of all the cases I use to schlep around the world.
What are the most significant changes in filming from when you started until now?
I started shooting on 16mm film. That went away a few years ago and I don't see it coming back.
Stay tuned in to our blog for part two!