First published in 1949, Alton's study of cinematography remains a major statement on the art of motion picture photography, as well as an interesting historical document on the workings of the postwar American cinema. In simple, non-technical language, Alton explains the job of the cinematographer and explores how lighting, camera techniques and choice of locations determine the visual mood of film. Todd McCarthy's introduction, written especially for this edition, provides an overview of Alton's biography and career and explores the influence of his work on contemporary cinematography.
John Alton (born 1901) was one of the most renowned cinematographers of the postwar American cinema. In 1951 he won an Academy Award for his color photography of An American in Paris. He lives in Los Angeles. Todd McCarthy is chief film critic of Variety, co-editor of the King of Bs (1975), and writer and co-director of the award winning documentary, Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992).