A year ago this month I was talking to Howard Kazanjian about his work on The Return of the Jedi. We were discussing cameras, and how their choice for that project shook up things at Panavision, when he changed the topic to Raiders of the Lost Ark and its Director of Photography, Doug Slocombe.
Howard told me something that shocked me about Slocombe’s MO – he didn’t use a light meter on Raiders – ever! So I was not surprised to see this fact mentioned in the announcement in the press about Slocombe’s passing a few weeks ago.
What was missing in the article, however, was what the cinematographer preferred to use instead. Slocombe employed an eyepiece that was heavily tinted, a gaffer’s glass. With it he was able to judge whether the lights he had set were “burning equally” or not. Evidently this factor was more important to him than what a light meter would show.
He joked to Howard that light meters never told him what he wanted them to say.