Category Archives: Noire

Noire Moment – Michelle

Noire image of a woman lit by venetian blinds

Watching movies and Tv throughout my life I always noticed strong light and shadow that emanated from windows. Especially light filtered through venetian blinds. I often thought it was funny on Tv shows that had this kind of splash of light from venetian blinds but no reference to a window. Sometimes they would appear in a room that couldn’t have windows. It must have been a lighting designer’s joke to see if anyone was paying attention.

From the very beginning of my photo career as an independent commercial photographer I gravitated to what I then referred to as Hollywood Style lighting. Not for my corporate work but in my personal approach to portraits. I felt that this style. I am returning to that style of lighting but now I refer to it as Noire.

Hopefully in the future I will be able to create images that evoke hazy, dark rooms with streaks of light that reveal the subject matter in a a mysterious Noire way.

This is Michelle. I met her through a makeup artist, which happened a lot. Michelle had a really cool studio full of vintage stuff. At the time I was often carrying a long set of venetian blinds and a faceable spot light to shine through them. It was hard to get believable light if there wasn’t enough room to work. This time it worked out.

 About this Image

This was shot on daylight Ektachrome. I liked shooting these type of images with tungsten lamps and daylight film to get a certain warm color. Now, in Photoshop, the image can be desaturated and controlled by me, not a lab.



The Noire City



I spent a lot of my youth watching Tv. Sometime when I was really young I must have come into contact with some noire films over the tube. I seemed to have a very strong affinity for this genre of film without knowing what they were called. These films felt different to me. There were also a fair amount television programs that fell into that category like Perry Mason and The Untouchables. Another show that I watched had moments of noire – 77 Sunset Strip.

Throughout my life I have enjoyed seeing photos and films that have a noire feel. I liked the strong, deep shadows and how the actors revealed themselves by emerging from or hiding in darkness. I never intentionally tried to mimic this in my own photography until recently. In the last two years I have been trying to see city scenes through a noire point of view. It’s not always an easy thing to do, living in a fairly new-looking city like Minneapolis. But I have managed to find some subject matter and times of day (even seasons) to make noire type images that conjure a “sleepless city” and an air of mystery and intrigue. I do my best to make the place I photograph not readily recognizable so that the mood of the moment is the more dominant.

 About These Images

There are two main types of noire type images I try to capture – so far. Street scenes and small, intimate spaces with deep shadows. (I plan to do a third type which will include actors).

The first photo is a street scene around dusk. The image is intentionally blurred for effect. It’s like the bustling background into which the protagonist enters. Noire films are normally B&W but I felt the color in this case made the image more interesting.

The second image was made when the sun was low and cast long shadows into the entrance of an historic old building. I put my shadow in the photo to add some mystery and tension. Being at the right place at the right time is key to getting these images when working without lighting equipment and a crew.

I just recently started shooting this way. It will be interesting to see what happens when I put more time and resources into these images.