It was my first time to Bydgoszcz, and my first time to Poland as well. Already in the Frankfurt airport at the boarding I felt the excitement of seeing so many fellow cinematographers up close. The festival promotes a strong sense of community that was entirely new to me - among cinematographers that is. My isolation in Beijing clearly plays a role in this, but it was very fresh and inspiring to see cinematographers from all over the world and from all sorts of backgrounds come together and exchange experiences in the most open and friendly manner. Early in the week I saw Lion, shot by Greg Fraser. The films simple story was told in such a subtle and visual way that I was not surprised when at the end of the week Fraser got the Golden frog for it.
This years edition had Michael Chapman as their honorary guest. Chapman (81) was all over the place, tirelessly answering questions and giving lectures. I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down for the screening of The Last Waltz (1978) and realized I was sitting next to Chapman himself. It must be incredible to look back on a career of such rich work.
On the whole many of the lectures and talks I saw inspired me to keep focusing on the ideas, the creative and unbound aspect of cinema; a way of seeing cinematography that clearly differs from what lots of us young cinematographers take it for - a much more technical craft mastered on a slippery slope of digital developments that few of us truly grasp transparently .
That said, I was also fortunate enough to witness Steve Yedlin demonstrate how he most certainly knows how to navigate the digital realm. He made a strong case for digital cinematographers to be authors of their images and develop clear pipelines that enable us to get the image that we want out of the tools at hand. The general ideas of his spectacular lecture are also on his website: http://www.yedlin.net/OnColorScience/
Greg Fraser gave a press conference on Lion (2016) during which he told me about the LED lights he used on the films' India segment. Digital Sputnik. I saw a workshop organized by them later that day and by the end of the week I had bought a small set of 3 modules of their lights. They should arrive in a few weeks.