Ralph Steiner (1899-1986)

H2O (1929), 14 minutes

Surf and Seaweed (1929/30), 11 minutes

Mechanical Principles (1931), 11 minutes

Panther Woman of the Needle Trades (1931), 11 minutes

Dance Film (1931), 1.5 minutes

The Quarry (1932), 9 minutes

Harbor Scenes (1932), 10 minutes

G3 (1932), 10 minutes

Pie in the Sky (1934). Co-directed by Elia

Kazan, Molly Day Thacher, & Irving Lerner. 16 minutes.

Cafe Universal (1934), 20 minutes

Hands (1934), 8 minutes

The Plow That Broke the Plains (1936). Steiner

was one of three cinematographers, with Paul

Strand and Leo Hurwitz. 21 minutes

People of the Cumberland (1937). Steiner was

cintematographer for directors Sidney Meyers

and Eugene Hill. 21 minutes

The City (1939). Steiner and Willard Van Dyke

shared direction and cinematography. 43 minutes

New Hampshire Heritage (1940). Steiner and Van

Dyke shared cinematography, probably also the

direction. 30 minutes

Youth Gets a Break (1941). Steiner was one of

six cinematographers on this film directed by

Joseph Losey. 20 minutes

Troop Train (1942), 30 minutes

Earth and Fire (1950). Steiner was also producer.

30 minutes

Seaweed, a Seduction (1960), 8 minutes

One Man’s Island (1969), 16 minutes

Glory, Glory (1970/71), 10.5 minutes

A Look at Laundry (1971), 8.5 minutes

Beyond Niagra (1973), 8 minutes

Look Park (1973/74), 10.5 minutes

Hurrah for Light (1975), 20 minutes

Slowdown (1975), 18 minutes

Steiner on Light:

The medieval alchemist spent his days attempting to turn lead into gold. If only he had glanced out his window as the sun came from behind a cloud, what a turning of lead into gold he’d have seen–especially if the sun got behind things to shine through them. The sun doesn’t have to shine on tropical foliage to make magic; it makes it in your own backyard if you are open to magic. As Thoreau put it: "Only that day dawns to which we are alive."...people will fly to Europe to look at the adoration which Rembrandt, Caravaggio, La Tour paid to light—they will stand in awe in the center of that great vaulted room of colored glass, the Sainte Chapelle, but at home, if martinis are waiting indoors, they will not slow down to look as the grass around the door turns incandescent in the setting sun. And there’s a lot more sunset grass in our lives than Saint Chapelles or paintings in museums.

Much of what I photograph with a still camera I use as material in my films. One film, entirely devoted to what light can do to ordinary stuff, is called Hurrah for Light!

There are occasions when, if you photograph what light does, you have to move fast. The sun and clouds never hold still, and when you see a miracle of light happening out front, you are certain that within seconds it will disappear. Even if the sun does come out again shortly, it will not look the same or as magical. Excitement is necessary to the photographer, and excitement never strikes twice. The first and last photographs in this sequence were exposed in a hysteria of haste: you frame the picture, you don’t take time to think about exposure, you just give one of every kind of exposure your camera can produce.

–Ralph Steiner, A Point of View, 1978, p. 66.