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Brian De Palma

Vilmos Zsigmond, the image-master

He brought an otherworldly luster to Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," and made southern Appalachia terrifying in John Boorman's "Deliverance." But Vilmos Zsigmond, 80, still seeks new frontiers. That's what excited him about shooting "Louis," a silent movie in (mostly) black and white about the young Louis Armstrong.

"How often will you be asked to shoot a silent movie in black and white in 2010?" he asked with a laugh last week, over the phone from Los Angeles.

In a way, it was a creative homecoming. The magic of black-and-white photography is what attracted him to camerawork. He was a boy in his native Hungary...