Friday, January 20, 2017

Film Noir Shoot

ISO 400, Aperture f/4.5, Shutter 1/160s

The term film noir is French for “black film” or “dark film” and was applied to generally black and white mystery and crime drama films produced the in 1940 – 1950. The cinematography in these films was usually dark, gritty, and contained heavy shadows, which is very similar to a low-key photo. When a person says film noir thoughts atomically go to old black and white films such as “The Maltese Falcon”,  “Murder, My Sweet”, and the “Third Man”; however, there is no rule saying photos inspired by the genera need to be straight black and white.  Thus in this series of photos I tried to recreate that feeling of film noir of the 1940s and 1950s; but using a more modern take on the coloring of the photos.

My other inspiration for this set of photos was the femme fatale character found in several noir films. My goal in these photos was to capture the hidden strength and hidden “bad girl” streak as seen in characters played by Lana Turner and Rita Hayworth. I also used elements of the classic Hollywood glamour photo to create these images.  

This shoot contained both studio and outdoor/on-location shots. For the studio shots, I used a large grey backdrop, two light stands, two 430EX III-RT speedlights, 28-inch rectangular soft box with egg carton grid, a narrow honeycomb grid modifier, and a large gobo mounted on a C-stand with boom arm. I also used props to include a large brown couch, table, a martini bar set, martini glass, and a dark wood chair.  For the outdoor shots, I used one 430EX III-RT speedlight, painter’s pole, and an assistant (my husband). For both the studio and on-location shots, I used my Canon 70D, an 18 – 200mm lens, and a Canon radio trigger.  

I used a two light set up for the studio shoot, with the main light being the square soft box with egg crate and the other being a straight flash with a honeycomb grid modifier attached.  I started the shoot with the main light a little more than 90 degrees to the subject’s left, while the straight flash was a little less than negative 45 degrees to the subject’s right.  (Note directly behind the subject is 0 degrees.)  For the outdoor shoot, the light was placed above and in front the subject to match the light coming from the streetlights.

I took 296 photos and kept about 60% of them for editing purposes, but after the final edits only delivered 173 photos of which several were duplicates photos that were edited/styled differently (i.e. black & white verse color).  Below are a few of my favorites from the shoot while you can see all of them here.

The first two images I like because the eyes say it all. The shadows hit perfectly, and the light just crosses across her eyes with the intense stare. To me this says classic noir.  

ISO 400, Aperture f/4.5,  Shutter 1/160s
ISO 400, Aperture f/4.5, Shutter 1/250s

The second photo I love in both black & white and color is this profile. This says classic Hollywood elegance to me. It captures the grace and beauty of the model.

ISO 400, Aperture f4.5, Shutter 1/100s
ISO 400, Aperture f4.5, Shutter 1/100s

This is the one of my favorite outdoor shots, which was taken on a staircase with one streetlight. To me this looks like a classic noir movie scene.  It begs the question is she walking away from something or waiting for something.

ISO 400, Aperture f/4.5, Shutter 1/125s

This final image I actually struggled with, because in the color version the shadows overpower her face. However once I converted it to black & white with a sepia tint it brought the image to life. I also lighted the shadows on her face slightly so you could see her eyes more clearly. In the end, I think this photos works.

ISO 400, Aperture f/4.5, Shutter 1/160s

Overall, I am happy with how this photo session turned out.  The model Orisen Cosplay was wonderful to work with. I loved her long lines, gracefulness, and how she was able to portray the femme fatale character.  

Friday, January 6, 2017

Photography Plans for 2017

It is the New Year, so it is time for some new photo projects and goals.  I still plan to do work with the DC Cosplayer and Photographer Group and do convention shoots but want to expand beyond that. This year I would like to do a few more personal projects and increase the number of shoots I do outside of conventions.   To reach this goal I have developed a list of photoshoots I would like to do this year.

A film noir shoot. This shoot is based on classic noir films like the Maltese Falcon, The Third Man, and Casablanca. This would be a shoot based on 1940’s and 1950’s styling, focusing on old Hollywood glamor, and be very low key or dark shoot.  This shoot would be in the evening and be a mix of studio and on location, since all the locations I’m thinking of are within short walking distance of the studio.  Ideally, I would love to do this shoot, as a couples shoot, but singles are good too. You can see my pintress idea board for this shoot here.

Girl in a Cherry Tree.  Last year I did a wonderful shoot with Neirdheim Jen, by placing her in a cherry blossom tree.  I want to do a few more shoots like that, since this will most likely be the last year these cherry trees will be accessible (blame construction plans).  Therefore, I would love to do at least few more shoots, placing a model in the tree, preferably with a long flowy dress or something that is cherry blossom appropriate.  I would love to shoot with a dress called “endless fire” or the “magenta orchid parachutedress” located on dream shoot rentals.  My other thought would to be place cosplays based on Sakizou, Hannah Alexander, or Nene Thomas designs.



Arboretum Shoot. I would like to do a shoot at the National Arboretum.  This one does not have a specific theme, but I would be looking to do something that is a bit elegant or fashion oriented. Basically, no superheroes.

Night Shoot overlooking the city. This shoot is geared towards superheroes, because the idea is to place the background below behind the model.



Random Shoots:  I do have a permit to shoot within the Fairfax County parks and there are a few locations I would like to shoot. In addition, I’m hoping for some snow so I can do anther snow shoot. I will also be keeping my eye out for new and interesting locations; I might even make it up to the GraffitiWarehouse in Baltimore.  

To those who are interested in working with me on any of the shoots listed above (which will be TFP), please message me through my Facebookpage: Munchkin Photos by Heather.  

I will also be offering all cosplayers 90-minute shoots (in studio or on location) for 45-dollars, which would include a CD/thumb-drive of all the edited images from the shoot as well as an online gallery. 

Waterfalls and Parachutes

Bonus image: Focal length 18mm, Apeture F7.1, Shutter 1/200s I went up to Ohio a few weekends ago for my class reunion, and figur...