Posts Tagged ‘photo noir

23
Feb
09

Photo Noir

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What is it that makes a photograph ‘noir’? It’s a term that seems to get bandied about a lot lately, and used to mean any old black-and-white photo. First off, ‘Noir’ has a whole lot to do with lighting.  Film Noir was shot in high contrast black and white, often using low-key and chiaroscuro effects- using a single bright light to separate the foreground from the shadows. The results are purposefully eerie, especially if the subject is surrounded by deep shadows. You will see the same types of lighting in related genres as well- horror, for example, and German expressionist films (think Nosferatu), which are often considered the forerunners of film noir, although the two often seemed to feed back and forth.

Secondly, ‘noir’ has a great deal to do with subject matter. No matter how striking the lighting or how mysterious the shadows, a photo of a kitten is unlikeley to qualify at ‘noir’. Noir films were full of sexuality and violence, sometimes critiquing modern ‘moral ambiguity’ and sometimes seeming to fetishize it. The expressionist films dealt with dark material as well, although it was often handled through symbolism and hyperbole.

Photos by Ryder Makeup Labs

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