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8 June 2011
With the demise of high key photography, it's important to remember the basics.
"Fantastic photographs!!!"- Paula
contactusNeil Davis Photography Ltd
18 West End, Hunwick,
Crook, County Durham
07900 446 502
Photo noir – sculpting with light
The techniques and equipment used to create a photo noir image are, at best, crude - you can liken them to a hammer and chisel. Of course, in the hands of a great sculptor...
Photo noir is a timeless, classical image, shot against a dark background and captured in sumptuous black and white. Compared to clinical high-key techniques which are rapidly falling out of fashion, photo noir comes not from an age of excess, but an age of innocence and austerity. Photo noir doesn't just capture expression and emotion, it magnifies it.
It's all about light
In colour photography, lighting is only part of the mix to creating that perfect image. Colours vie for attention, and even though the human brain works tirelessly trying to comprehend what's on the page, the true nature of the image can become hidden.
Remove the colour, and all that remains is light and dark - no more, no less. Far simpler for the human brain to decode - leaving nothing to the imagination - and helping to give photo noir its reputation for impact and drama. Yet, with this simplicity comes the challenge of creating a special image.
Unlike high-key shots which are created by flooding the studio with flashlight, photo noir is generally shot with a single halogen light source against a black background. Compared to the sophistication of flash equipment, tungsten halogen lamps are harsh and unforgiving things.
The right angle, the right exposure, the right expression and the right timing all become critical to capturing mood, meaning and drama.
Whilst the lighting may be crude, the effect is not, and is best likened to the hammer and chisel. On their own, the tools are clumsy and incapable. Put them in the hands of a great sculptor, and they can work almost magically to shape a work of art.
Photo noir isn't just photography, it's literally sculpting an
image with light.