Photographic Journal

Extreme Long Shot: This can be taken from as much as a quarter of a mile away, and is generally used as a scene-setting, establishing shot. It normally shows an exterior, eg the outside of a building, or a landscape, and is often used to show scenes of thrilling action eg in a war film or disaster movie. There will be very little detail visible in the shot, as it is meant to give a general impression rather than specific information.

Full shot is a shot that shows the human figure from head to feet, with some part of the body to give context. The subject is shown and the setting is revealed, although usually not completely. This shot can give emphasis on the subject in a greater way than extreme long shot without revealing more detail.

Long Shot: Similar to a full shot, with more exposed in the background, and less detail of the subject. This shot can give a full head to toe visual of the subject and surroundings while still remaining close enough to give more detail than the extreme long shot.

Medium Shot: The medium shot is the most common shot used in movies. Every shot that isn’t a long shot or close up is a medium shot. The medium shot should generally contain all the action of the scene and it should be well matched with the flow of the long shot, so that the editor can cut smoothly or effectively at practically any point between them. It gives the ultimate balance between detail and content in a shot.

Close-up: tightly frames a person or an object. Close-ups are one of the standard shots used regularly with medium shots and long shots. Close-ups display the most detail, but they do not include the broader scene. These shots emphasize the subjects emotions or close details.

Extreme Close-up: The shot is so tight that only a fraction of the focus of attention, such as someone’s eyes, can be seen. The setting is completely left out. Complete emphasis is given to a moment’s power and this shot can often be the most expensive to carry out.

Deep Focus: commands a large depth of field. Depth of field is the front-to-back range of focus in an image — that is, how much of it appears sharp and clear. Consequently, in deep focus the foreground, middle-ground and background are all in focus. This style was pioneered in Citizen Kane and allows a large amount of action in a shot, as opposed to shallow focus, which narrows action to a single layer.

Bird’s Eye: Features a shot looking directly down on the subject, making the subject appear short and squat. This can emphasize smallness or insignificance of subjects or be an overall establishing shot.
High Angle: Includes any shot above the eye level. The point of focus is often in the setting, and the subject is naturally inferior. The figure or object can seem vulnerable or powerless, as in security camera shots.

Eye level: Is essentially a portrait, though more intricate than a simple mug shot. The figure is often in its natural surroundings, and the image says far more than merely the subject.

Low Angle: Used when WWE interviews Andre the Giant, imparts a sense of superiority on the part of the subject. Gives the audience the impression of being below or beneath the subject.

Oblique angle: Also known as a Dutch angle, emerged in the 30’s in experimental  documentaries, the angle often depicted madness or insanity. The tilting of the camera off to the side portrays the psychological uneasiness or tension in the subject being filmed.

High Key Lighting: Attempts to reduce the lighting ration present in a scene. This doesn’t require consistent adjustment, and allows a shot to be finished in hours instead of days. The effect is homogeneity, and dark shadows are generally absent.

High Contrast: Shots with a small range of color, very heterogeneous, with definite shadows or lines. The subject often appears more serious and sometimes older as the appearance is more definite.

Low Key Lighting: Attempts to create a chiaroscuro effect with one key light. This accentuates the contours of the subject by throwing areas into shade while the fill light illuminates other parts. This heightens the sense of alienation of the audience and is often used in film noir or horror.

Over Exposure: The loss of highlight detail resulting in an aesthetic goal of the artist. Most of the detail of majority white areas is swallowed up into entirely whiteness. This can create a feeling of confusion in the audience and contribute to contrast with a well defined subject or subjects.

Color: The use of hues and pigments in a shot to impart emotional feelings or context to the audience. This can range from the brightness and diversity of colors to a directors choice to associate an emotion or subject with a certain color.

A Knife in the Water: Editing

Knife in the Water: Editing
Paul Fischer
Portfolio, Cinema Studies

The cuts in Knife in the Water are mostly long, and luxurious, or they seem to mix sporadically with the jazzy soundtrack to build tension. Polanski’s shots, as discussed in mis-en-scene, are carefully crafted, and the editing helps to impart the sense of sweltering heat, the lazy privileged day, and the ambitions of two rivals spiraling out of control.

As the hitchhiker wades through rushes, which cross him in sharp, interweaving lines, the jazz is fast, and distracted (5a). A fight breaks out between the sailors soon after, quick shots follow in succession, until the exasperated hitch hiker runs off, with the others following him.

When the boat slowly sails across the lake, Polanski offers long, establishing shots, accompanied by slow music and long shots of the sailors wasting time, lying around or examining a map. As the intensity of the music and action in the movie pick up, along with the tension between the characters, the cuts become shorter and more hectic. At the end of the movie, as the wife confesses her unfaithfulness, the shots relax again, slowing and focusing on establishing elements (the car, trees) instead of the actors.
A characteristic of the film is Polanski’s use of an actor or object to frame his shot, focusing the shot while still exposing the audience to all elements of the scene. This is critical to his development of the fighting men. The tensions that slowly build up are emphasized by Polanski’s flawless grasp of depth and spacing, which he uses extensively to translate the emotions of anger and competition in the film. He is able to use one actor as a sort of reflector, the surprise on the husband’s face imparts a cinematic value that the audience might perceive as coming from the back of the hitchhiker’s head.

A Knife In The Water Annotated Article

Paul Fischer
Knife in Water Portfolio Annotated Article 

Knife in the Water (1962)

Screen: Poland’s ‘Knife in the Water’:Drama Involves Three Persons in a Boat

Published: October 29, 1963

THE odd sort of personal hostility that smolders in many men who have trouble asserting their egos in this complex modern world is casually, cryptically and even comically dissected by the probing camera of Roman Polanski in his “Knife in the Water,” which opened at the Beekman yesterday.

This is especially skillful in this film, filmography was central to ensuring that the themes of masculinity and marital strife are portrayed using only three actors (these tensions can be seen in nearly every shot except 2a, an establishing shot, and 7a-e, which show the three relaxing and enjoying the day). The stellar performance of all three actors, especially the writer who obviously had experience in silent film (the shots of just the forehead and eyes that exude menace, 5a and 17a), also are critical to delivering the film’s message.

This strange little film from Poland, which was one of the more popular among the 21 multi-national features shown at the First New York Film Festival last month, is the first of that lot of offbeat pictures to be presented commercially here. And it eminently justifies the interest in its acid contents and in the techniques of its young director that it stirred.
It is interesting, after Polanski’s long successful career, to see how his contemporary critics viewed him: young, new and risky. I don’t think he ever stopped pushing the envelope. In the time period, the nude scene of 19b, or partially nude scene from 12 along with the theme of adultery make the film very risque.
Using his naturalistic camera as though it were an outsized microscope set up to observe the odd behavior of three people completely isolated for 24 hours aboard a weekend pleasure boat, Mr. Polanski evolves a cryptic drama that has wry humor, a thread of suspense, a dash of ugly and corruscating evil — and also a measure of tedium because of the purposeful monotony of its pace.
The soundtrack worked well with the tempo of the film (at 2a, as well as 4a and 6a, this is evident), that could be pointed out here. The attention to cinematography is also clearly apparent, I really like the idea of the camera being a microscope for the characters because the cinematography works seamlessly with the story.
What he has done, as coauthor as well as director, is merely place these people—an edgy, snarling husband, his cool and calmly critical wife and a surly and sassy young hitchhiker whom they have picked up en route to their boat — within the controlled confinement of a trim little sailing sloop and there has them work out their aggressions and their sly sexual rivalries.
He also raises questions about motive and prescience that inspire the viewer to analyze the movie even further (right to 16a, it is easy to believe the film will ultimately be violent, instead of sexual). Also the fact that Polanski helped write the piece is obvious as the direction of the film reinforces the script and plot.
From their first harsh exchange of hostilities as they almost collide on the road, the husband and his virtually shanghaied passenger casually taunt each other and contend to show their superior skills and prowess, while the smirking wife silently observes. The husband vaunts himself as a sailor and mocks the clumsiness of the youth; the latter shows off his agility with a murderous switchblade knife.
The wife represents on some level, the good and the bad of female nature (see difference between shots 7d and 19b), at least as Polanski sees it. She looks at the two testosterone driven men fighting, and smirks to herself, and thinks they both are awful. In the end, however, her actions are by most counts the least ethical.
Comical and trifling at the outset, these rivalries between the two men appear to be no more consequential than the jostling of two hostile kids, daring one another to step over a line. And the casual goings and comings of the pretty young wife about the boat, innocently but very seductively patched in a two-piece bathing suit, appear no more pertinent to the wrangling than the picnic lunch she serves.
I think the reviewer is getting to that, in a way here. He is right of course, as he says in the next paragraph that the seductiveness of the woman reflects on Polanski’s own psychology. It is also a classic study in the slow buildup of actions to convince the viewer of a value.
But Mr. Polanski is sneaky. In carefully guarded ways, he has the competition become more vicious, the distraction of the woman more intense, until suddenly he has a situation where hostilities flare into hate and the two men vie with each other in a series of water shenanigans that thinly veil their lethal inclinations and the hideous possibilities of death.
The water (17c), like the switchblade (16a) is a symbol. One of the survival and difficult life the hitch-hiker lives, the other of a life of luxury pressure cooked by an unhappy wife. When the two collide, going head to head, the knife cuts deep.
In this situation, he flashes the chemistry of sex—the natural bestowal by the woman of her token of sympathy upon the more pathetic of these rivals and then her ultimate display of contempt for both immature male creatures. It makes for a neat ironic twist.
Especially since she is the one who ends up committing adultery, though one might say the responsibility lies with the hitch-hiker. It is probable that he planned everything from when he first saw tension between the married couple. He says, “I knew you would call me back… I’m a mind reader.”
As I say, the style is so casual and random at the start that the clambering of only three people about a sailboat tends to become monotonous. And unless one is quickly perceptive of the subtle drama Mr. Polanski is about, the use of attending their behavior may be disastrously missed.
This helps make the movie easy to watch again and again. It’ s obvious that nearly every shot and action have meaning in the film, from the setting of the lunch, to the slow escalation (5a), descalation and re-escalation of tensions on the boat. The way it is done, it’s almost sexual in form as well as content, with back and forth between friendliness and near hatred, working like a spiral to an inevitable outcome.
But the performances are engaging. Leon Niemczyk is mephitic and intense as the nasty husband, Zygmunt Malanowicz is dry and droll as the young man and Jolanta Umecka is obligingly attractive and provokingly scornful as the wife. The décor is entertaining, if you can overlook the facts that the sailing is laughably sloppy and that there are no other boats on the lake.
The acting is one of the best aspects of this film. The actors obviously are skilled, and it is easy to be drawn into their performance.
Once you realize that this is a devilish dissection of man in one of his more childish and ridiculous aspects, you should get some laughs and tingles out of it.
It is too bad about that Polish dialogue. The English subtitles are good.
Polish is a really pretty language, I never really heard it before. This is not, however, a very good conclusion to an otherwise excellent review. The review did a great job of summing up the film and also introduced some interesting new information for me
Paul Fischer 5/16/10 6:13 PM 

A Knife in the Water Critical Review

A Knife in the Water
Critical Review
Paul Fischer

The form is simple, with only three actors and shot in black and white. But “A Knife in the Water” is recognized as one of the greatest debut films in cinema history. It is a masterwork with beautiful cinematography and convincing acting led by new star director Roman Polanski. The film, while not as dark as Polanski’s later works such as “Rosemary’s Baby” or “The Pianist”, shows his complete mastery of the human psyche. It primarily explores the childish feuding between two men, and a younger man’s competition for the wife.

The film style gives power to the script, which makes sense because Roman Polanski also helped to write the piece. His involvement on many different levels is apparent, benefiting the film. Its long shots of the characters relating to their surroundings makes the film’s progression organic. The conflict between the husband and the hitchhiker is brilliantly illustrated in sweeping shots on the water. The woman, Christina, is portrayed in a sensual light, further adding tension to the two men’s relationship. The misogynistic perspective of the film puts Christina on an unwilling pedestal and illustrates the traditional patriarchal society of Polanski.
Despite the origins in communist Poland, the film incorporates American Jazz throughout. Christopher Komenda’s score is mostly made up of small-ensemble jazz. This evokes the sounds of America in the 1920’s, comparing the aimlessness of the characters at sea to those of the so-called ‘Lost Generation’ during that time period. The artistically selected black-and-white filming further adds to this Film Noire atmosphere. The smoky air of the film prevails to the end when the young hitchhiker seduces the man’s wife.
Polanski’s film is a brilliant tale about relationships on the open sea. Its dramatic look at the human spirit extends beyond the Iron Curtain from whence it came.

Mechanical Equivalent of Heat (2010)

Mechanical Equivalent of Heat
Paul Fischer
Portfolio: Labs

One of my favorite parts of science is the history behind it. Some laws of the universe that scientists in the past believed in have been disproven. Others, however, were so well crafted that they remain in place for hundreds of years. In this lab, we learn how with limited technology, James Joule was able to lay down some of the most fundamental groundwork for modern physics.

The lab is rather simple, and though we had a rather high percentage of error (nearly 40%), we could see how Joule was able to use known relationships between heat and work to create a quantifiable formula (4.186J=1Calorie). This discovery allowed scientists to find specific heats for nearly every substance. That is vital to many things, from engine parts to calculations for electricity. 
As much as showing us how Joule’s work can be used, this lab showed that some science can withstand the test of time and be important even centuries later. It also exemplified the relationship between work (turning the tube filled with steel shot) and a real temperature change, and had us quantify that using Joule’s work.

Avicenna (2010)

Paul Fischer
Portfolio: PAUI 1

Sir Isaac Newton is known for his famous three laws, in which he is said to have laid the foundation of inertia, momentum, and gravity. In fact, over 700 years earlier, there was an Arabian physicist, Ibn Sīnā, who is considered the father of momentum as well as laying the groundwork for inertia. In addition to his work in physics, Avicenna, as he is usually called by Europeans, held the position of one of the most influential Arabian scholars for over a thousand years.

In the 900’s, as Europe struggled through the dark ages, Arabian scholars rescued and improved upon vast numbers of classical work. The resulting renaissance brought algebra and geometry to new levels. Avicenna was a part of this explosion of knowledge; as a Persian living at the turn of the millennia, his books were still used by European universities in 1650. His influence in many fields is immeasurable. 

The complicated theory of motion he drew up in his Book of Healing is almost the same as Newton’s theory of inertia, but hundreds of years earlier. Avicenna held that motion came from an inclination, which was a force given to an object and could only be dissipated by outside forces such as air resistance. In a vacuum, he predicted, an object would continue onward forever until stopped. The synergy of the Islamic golden age and Aristotelian and other Greek ideas are evident: his work on inertia went on to become the basis of the theory of impetus, which attempts to explain the resistance of projectiles against gravity.

Continuing with this idea, he also attempted to connect velocity with an object’s mass. His work on this has made the Persian acknowledged the father of the theory of momentum. Later Latin texts also claim he saw that the only source of heat was from moving objects.

While he did understand that the speed of light was finite, he was pretty wrong with his ideas on optics, providing an incorrect theory on the source of rainbows at one point.
Avicenna.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 May. 2010 <>.


By Paul Fischer
Mr. Lamberti
Career Exploration
May 30, 2010
Paul Fischer
Mr. Lamberti
Career Exploration
May 21, 2010
         If someone is interested in working in physics, the federal government is probably the best place to start looking: over half of all physicists are hired by the government ( There are a wide variety of jobs available for physicists, from fighting crime, product development, studying motion or other practical uses to abstract physicists who try to find out about the beginning of the universe and planetary motions.
            Studying in an abstract field can be very beneficial to society, for example there are many instances when devices designed purely for science have great benefit to people. Microwaves, cell phones, even computers are at least partially side effects of pure science research for physics ( While the inventors of the devices may not profit directly (although many do), they tend to be far more concerned with ensuring that they receive proper credit. With that credit comes further funding and grants, which allow physicists to pursue their goals in science (
            Research for the military also helps create appliances with everyday use. Lasers, nuclear power and radar are all examples of how military research has inadvertently lead to important staples in modern life. This is especially important to job-seekers, because a large portion of the jobs in physics belong to the military.
         Becoming a physicist almost certainly requires an ability to create devices, often experiments will call for things that haven’t been invented. Astronomers, for example, are continually building the next biggest and best telescope ( The side effect is that often devices have many uses, even in the real world. As far back as Sir Isaac Newton, physicists had predicted that orbital satellites could circle the earth in perpetual freefall. The satellites that today fire missiles, communicate GPS, and relay cell phone calls are a result of hundreds of years of research into the nature of gravity.
            The military race to develop a super weapon using light resulted in the invention of the modern laser. Now this work on light is used in everything from CD players to manufacturing cars. Lasers are so powerful today that they can alter the retina in a damaged eye. The work of combining different technologies to fit one need often falls to physicists, who say problem-solving is among their most important job skills (
         An advantage of entering physics as a career choice is that, while the academics may be rigorous, usually requiring at least a PhD, there are not a lot of unusual workplace hazards, as with other specialized fields such as nuclear technicians. Physicists also tend to work regular hours, although some at special laboratories or observatories may have strange hours ( Like many professions in the scientific field, a lot of physicists’ time can be eaten by the tedious process of applying for grants.
            In some cases, this may take more time than their actual work in science. Physicists also may spend a lot of time teaching students, which can detract from their research opportunities, even at large universities. While, like medicine, the demand for physicists is not likely to drop any time soon, physicists are not paid nearly as well, and actually need a comparable level of education just to survive. Some researchers earn on the poverty line, and it can be hard to raise a family on such a low salary. University tenure tracks offer a viable direction for physicists who are willing to sacrifice research time to teach students. Sometimes, graduate students can prove helpful with dull research or experiments.
            Working as a physicist, above all, takes a devotion to science that very few have. They need to value credit above money, and the advancement of technology has to be above all. Should that be the case, their worth to society is incontrovertible, and their work is central to the modern world.
         Pay is usually based on the willingness of a physicist to network and seek grants. In the US there are 17,500 physicists, of whom only 1,500 are astronomers ( In the next decade, the field is expected to grow faster than the average employment in the country, at a brisk 16%. While the work to get there is difficult, and the pay is not amazing, with starting salaries between 30 and 55 thousand, as opposed to 60 to 70 thousand for a chemical engineering student (, job security is nearly certain, and more importantly, physics is a legitimately vital field to the scientific superiority of America.
“Physicists and Astronomers.” 17 Dec. 2009. Web. 21 May 2010. .
“Statistics.” American Institute of Physics, 2010. Web. 21 May 2010. . 

Four months and 20 Days

Four months and Twenty days
By Paul A Fischer

When I can feel the plunge,
 into that forbidden abyss
 my breath comes up fast
 my heart beats strong
I begin the uncontrolled lunge
 a fast twist

To finishing the exhilaration
  of secrets long forgotten
and just contemplation
 sinks me into jealous bliss

I know it’s no shit
 Because of the oceans
Brimming over feiry sunsets
 Mixing into salty potions
Tear drops roll against outstanding debts

I know it’s no shit because of the
 Dime sized pools, irises blessed
With transcendental light
 Exhaling upward as long hair
Twinkles like forgotten
 Stars burning bright
On my bare chest

But then your gone
 And I lose control
I’m ready to accept
 The madness we elect
To undergo to keep

What I have now,
 Your hot jealous lips
Beating with my every
Keeping with the rythm of
 My heart
Choking me like a christmas
Blinding me with a dazzling

That’s how I know
 I can wait
That’s how I know
 Four months and
Twenty days,
 The love you give,
I’ll take.

Last Salute (2010)

Last Salute
Paul Fischer
Tribunal Tyrants tremble
Seeing silent Symbols
Towering thundering, like the last hour
Receive true static wrath.
From the Corporate Media
Jarred in between
A nation
And its path
Between a nation
And its power
The power of a working man
Under relentless mechanical barrage
Oppressed by Ingenious Mind Slaves
Locked pitifully in the GE garage, billed with burgeoning loans
Their fiscal ineptitude has them marching in the rallies for
The dope and the lies, the suntan
They’re supplying. Propagating.
Drowning slowly. Futile cries
Against the corporatization of resistance,
Protesters riding reverse in Halliburton buses.
Caught by the
Of salutary Sanity
Under the boot of Conservative marchers
Waving signs factory made.
In Taiwan.
In China, pumping out toxic toys, poisoning our kids
In Afghanistan, drugs flowing like ferrofluid to put a nation
On the skids
As Soldiers march, distracted, through
Poppyfields, waving Obama’s bikini flag,
Covered in blood,
In satirical irony,
Worship of the Wizard of Oz,
Defiled like the tattered marriages.
Product of a cursed
nation of lost souls pressure-cooked.
Don’t know if what’s right’s true.
When, whether, maybe its time to bail.
On the bankrupt boat we’re all in,
Rigged to tie every tool in its place,
And let the rest drown
In the oil slick ocean waste.

Satan’s Cookie Chest (2010)

Satan’s Cookie Chest 
Paul Fischer

It shines bright red,

like the wet lips
gifted to Adam’s mortal sin.
The soft sweet bread
bleeds within while
enticing swollen hips
draw me slowly in.

Satan’s cookie chest
waits quietly in the corner
resting precariously
but peacefully
on a trembling brink
of  forgotten abyss 
in unspoken terror
ready to tumble.

It sparkles with lightning,
booms with the thunder
of silent aurora,
but then pandora 
would go the way of the leper.

Satan is too exquisite
for that plebeian path.

A plop in the distance.
You can feel small
spelunking in that box.

Dark green with the dread
of burning sips
from the lamp of Aladdin.
Goldman Sachs shines inside,
manipulates and controls.
In that chest are mortgages,
spun up and sold
like so many souls 
lost forever to the Lord.

College loans marriage proceed
like the plastic bride
bound to Satan’s denizens,
all squelching, depriving a nation
of vigilant citizens.
Mahogany lined by velvet
quietly invites trips
dangerous as Wayne’s last gram.
Pungent, a people disabled.
Poisoned adrenaline.

Like Kobain’s last hit of heroin
lost in the swell of the rest
sailing above like a lark,
under a wave
crashing on a grave beach,
submerged, lest
it slow down to a creek
trickling into the palm
of a sweaty card shark.

A rush in the instant
makes you feel so tall,
that theres no fear even of the rocks.

Satan likes to play
his favorite toy,
the one you chose,
mind still clouded, muddled,
waits behind the door.
That chest is locked, 
but not yet closed.

Aggressive like a beetle
that hurriedly scuttles,
snakes that unabashedly slink
under briefcases,
fill with lives bought,
steal the last thought
from those who don’t need
to think.

Subsisting on faces
of races piled in sync,
as the same hands beating,
the thunder of an iron drum
eat the last crumb
from the trembling hands
of those who can’t afford
to lose.

Different paths
aren’t really there to choose. 

So sweet
in itself
but still lost
in the heavenly realms.
Satan’ in heat
and hes ready to fuck
stay the hell out of his box.

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