This week European cinema lost one of its most accomplished and widely respected cinematographers. Michael Ballhaus, best known for his work with Martin Scorsese, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 81 following a short illness. Scorsese has already offered his own tribute to the man he described as "a precious and irreplacable friend". I would now like to add my words, limited though they are, to the chorus of mourning (which, given today is Good Friday, seems appropriate).
The Departed. Scorsese has credited Ballhaus with revitalising his career, giving him the confidence to experiment more with audience expectations. In the documentary Getting Made, Ballhaus talks about Scorsese's tendency to see the film already completed in his head, with his role being to decide whether such shots could be achieved in the real world. Their partnership created, amongst other things, the fantastic long tracking shot in Goodfellas where Henry and Karen enter the restaurant.
Easter weekend, I would recommend The Last Temptation of Christ or Goodfellas as great places to start. If you want to learn about Ballhaus' work on Goodfellas, you should watch Getting Made: The Making of Goodfellas on YouTube (Ballhaus' contribution begins at about 16:20). RIP.