The Google Doodle marks the 118th birthday of celebrated Chinese-American cinematographer James Wong Howe.

James Wong Howe rose to fame in the film industry for his innovative filming techniques.
He was known for using minimal camera movement to express emotions in scenes, he introduced wide-angle lenses and low-key lighting and he discovered – quite by accident – that dark backdrops could create more colour nuance in black and white films.

His techniques gave his films a wide range of colour gradients of black and white, making his scenes more dynamic.
He was also known for use of the crab dolly – camera dolly with four wheels and a movable arm to support the camera.
Howe got his first job in the film industry picking up scraps of nitrate stock from the editing room floor, which was very important as nitrate fires were common.

He then rose up through the ranks and became an assistant cameraman.
Howe received real notoriety in the industry when he figured out how to shoot blue-eyed actors so their eye-colour would register on film. These actors then began to demand that James Wong Howe shot them and the cinematography legend was born.
Google’s Doodle today used a monochrome oil painting canvas to portray the use of frames and dramatic lighting characteristic of James Wong Howe’s innovative camera work.

James Wong Howe started life in Guangzhou in China. His father emigrated to the US the year he was born to work on the Northern Pacific Railway. Five years later James Wong Howe and his family joined his father in the US.
Despite the racial discrimination Howe suffered throughout his life he was incredibly successful in his work as a cinematographer.
He only became a US citizen after the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act and his marriage to his wife Sanora Babb, was not legally recognised in the US until 1948 due to anti-miscegenation laws.

He was nominated for ten Academy awards for best cinematography and won two – for The Rose Tattoo in 1955 and Hud in 1963. He is one of the most celebrated cinematographers of his time.

He went on location to China to shoot during his career but the film was never made. Some of the shots he took, however, were used in Shanghai Express.

He died in in 1976 age 76.