29. august 2012

Film-noir shoot

Hya ^^

A few days back, I contacted a new person for a possible collaboration and shoot.

Lise-Lene, with her unique look, was very positive and welcoming and we messaged a little bit back and fourth with ideas and concepts before settling on a "Film noir" setting.

I like to do a location-shoot with new models, it's less intimidating than studio. The informal atmosphere usually creates a nice setting to chat and joke around a bit too. ^^

So what exactly is Film noir?

What I take away from the rather lengthy wikipedia-article, concerning photography and light, is this:

"The low-key lighting schemes of many classic film noirs are associated with stark light/dark contrasts and dramatic shadow patterning—a style known as chiaroscuro (a term adopted from Renaissance painting). The shadows of Venetian blinds or banister rods, cast upon an actor, a wall, or an entire set, are an iconic visual in noir and had already become a cliché well before the neo-noir era. Characters' faces may be partially or wholly obscured by darkness—a relative rarity in conventional Hollywood filmmaking."
"Night-for-night shooting, as opposed to the Hollywood norm of day-for-night, was often employed. From the mid-1940s forward, location shooting became increasingly frequent in noir."

So, my interpretation of the style, is stark, very short, to back lightning and a fill, small lightsources. lots of shadows, model expressing everything from the strong/dangerous/alluring, to the sensual and the dramatic.

Sensual but strong, I particulary like the shadow cast on the wall here

Full figure shot in the same scene.
I wanted to use the lines the narrow street created, more, to draw the attention to the model.

I've only done one other noir-shoot before this and that was 2-3 years ago.
Still, my initial trials and research felt solid, so I kind of knew how I wanted to do the shoot. The chosen location is also nice, because of the lack of (modern) objects and cars.

I like the slightly mysterious expression of the model.
The flash on camera-left, simulate the street-light coming into the entrance.
The weak fill, enhance the darkness without blocking up the face too much.
I also like to place the lights, to simulate the natural light sources in the area, so that the appearance of a flash is less obvious.
- I do want the shadows, for me, it's very important.

Also, bringing in the natural light and shadows from the location itself is key, but this is also what does pose a challenge.

Why is that?

Well, the speedlights I use are way stronger than a poorly lit street at night. This means you will have to turn the flashes down to a minimun. (I set my speedlights to around 1/128'th of full power).

A different look.
This is maybe more la-dolce vita'ish, but put into the noir world, where women can be deadly as well as beautiful. ^^
Also, to pull out the ambient light and shadows, you need turn the sensitivity on the camera way up, so most of my shots was shot at ISO 1250-1600 and 1/10'th - 1/30th of a second -with flash-.

Needless to say, I had to use tripod and a remote trigger on my camera.

The fact that my flashes are battery-driven and doesn't have a modeling-light, makes it even more of a challenge to place and to balance the flash-units properly. In the olden days (and even today), film makers used/use hot-lights and for film noir, they most likely used a lot of lights to control the ambient light and shadows in the entire scene.

Back in the day, they didn't have softboxes and scrims. At least, my impression is that there were mostly harder light sources and a limited number of modifiers, like regular flash-mounted reflectors, snoots, grids, barn-doors and freshnel lenses.

I don't have the luxury of a studio crew and a truck-load of hot-lights, so high-iso and tripod and using the existing scene along with bare bulb flashes was the solution. :)

Focusing in the dark can also pose a real problem, I used manual, pre-focusing techniques when I had to -with varying luck-, so a few shots were scrapped due to mis-focus. ;) 
In one-light settings, I put one of the flashes on the camera and let it's focus strobe do the work to obtain focus.
(For the shot, I blacked out the on-camera flash-bulb).

One flash to the camera right.
This created a nice shine in the hair, simulating the light from the light-post in the background.

As for Lise-Lene, I think she did an excellent job. It's not easy walking on cobblestone pavements in high heals at night, in fact that's a real health hazard. Posing and getting into character went very well and she seemed to be really into it, in addition, off course, to being a nice person . ^^

My favorite.
IMO a superb job from Lise-Lene and the light works really well here.
This is actually a two-flash setup.
It seems, like the only light is coming from the lanterns above and behind the model, love it!
These photos were all shot with my Canon 1ds mk II. The black and white conversion is aimed to simulate the old-school orthochromatic emulsion look, thank god that I also shoot analog, so I know what to do! =D

I am looking forward to more shoots with Lise-Lene (and so should you!)  =)

That's it for this entry ^^