Thursday, September 25, 2014

Film Noir Portrait Lighting

Recapturing the Essence of 1940's Hollywood

I was in the studio all night. The camera's batteries were almost drained, and the hot lights were on the verge of burning out. But I pressed on. I had to get the shot - there'd be money in it if I could get the pictures to the newspaper by morning.

I kept a bottle of whiskey as close as I could and still remain sober enough to work. I thought about finishing that bottle as the traffic rumbled on the avenue below. 

She walked in looking as though her last chance at happiness had caught the express train to anywhere but here. She had been somebody once, the trophy of a man with a temper and the wrong type of friends, perhaps. Now she needed MY help, which meant that her luck had run seriously dry. She was hopeless, a desperate dame looking up from the bottom of a cold well, wondering if there was still a way out. She didn't have a prayer, but she had me, and I had the one thing she was looking for.

a self portrait photograph of daniel south in film noir lighting style
Self Portrait 2014 - Film Noir Lighting Style

I've always been fascinated by the use of lighting in cinematography. Creative lighting can add a tremendous amount of drama and emotion to a scene. 

The film noir genre of the 1940's showcased an intense lighting style with high contrast and deep shadows. The portraits of the era mimicked this lighting style (or perhaps it was the other way around).

This is my interpretation of the classic look of 1940's portrait lighting. It might have come across as a bit more authentic if I had included swirling cigar smoke, but the studio has a non-smoking policy. And I detest smoke. 

I had to figure out a different way to "light up" the shot. I hope that you'll enjoy the results. 

Thanks for reading, and always keep an eye out for a damsel in distress.

 Nikon D800E
Lens:     Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G AF-S VRII

Light happens.  Be ready.  Shoot hard.

Copyright © 2014 Daniel R. South
All Rights Reserved

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