Noir Night with Robyn

November 9, 2010 at 11:02 am (Edmonton, Photography, Strobist) (, , , , , )

I have always liked the light and shadow look of film noir movies. Traditionally these movies are shot in black and white, though this is not strictly necessary (have you seen Chinatown?). Trying to create a film noir look in photography is something I have wanted to do for a while, and after hooking up with Edmonton model Robyn Brown I had my chance.

The noir look requires very hard light. This is difficult (if not impossible) to achieve with a bare, unmodified speedlight, so a little creativity was in order. I am not a rich man, so I figured something DIY would be appropriate. For this shoot I used my SB-600, as well as a borrowed SB-800 speedlight, so I fashioned two snoots out of black posterboard and duct tape. Total cost: about $3 bucks or so. The snoot funnels light through a tube which controls the spread of light, concentrating it in a very small area. Exactly what you need for noir.

Exposure 0.04 sec (1/25) Aperture f/13.0 Focal Length 46 mm Strobist: SB-800 high camera right 1/8@105mm snooted Triggered with CLS

As you can see in the above photo, the snooted speedlight positioned camera-right produces very high contrast lighting, with half her face properly exposed and the other half completely obscured by shadows. A small amount of ambient light serves to add a bit of definition to the rest of the scene.

Noir is not all about lighting however, it is also about mood, style, and story. Inspired by a shot I saw by Joe McNally I decided to see if I could ‘tell a story’ with a single shot. The idea was to convey a ‘damsell in distress’, threatened by an off-camera knife wielding maniac. I am still not completely satisfied with my results, but I think it was a good first effort. See for yourself:

Exposure 0.005 sec (1/200) Aperture f/16.0 Focal Length 19 mm Strobist: SB-800 1/6@105mm high camera left SB-600 1/10@85mm camera right.

I had the SB-800 at camera left to light Robyn, and the SB-600 camera right shooting through an arm holding a knife to cast the shadow on the wall. As you can see, the shadow turned out quite well, though the placement could be better. The lighting on Robyn could certainly be better.

All in all, I learned some new stuff, and as always, had a great time. Many thanks to Robyn for being such a great model, and to Hugh Lee and Rory Mallett for assisting on this shoot.

One more for you:

Exposure 3 Aperture f/16.0 Focal Length 25 mm Strobist: SB-800 camera left 1/4@105mm SB-600 camera right 1/6@85mm through omnibounce Triggered with CLS

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2 Comments

  1. Dave said,

    Great shots, and a gorgeous model, too. Nice to see you blogging again! Your site looks great, too, btw. Are you using any specific WP add-ins to add photos to the post? I’m trying to find one I like.

    • Darren said,

      Hey Dave!

      Thanks. This is actually a real old shoot, from November 2010….I am slowly trying to fill in old posts that I should have written in a more timely fashion. Better late than never right?

      I am using the built in clunky method of adding photos, didn’t realize you can get add-ins. Let me know if you find a good one…

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