The colour noir – 25/07/11
Joel on our very own film noir set, Electric Cinema, Birmingham
As part of another themed photography shoot, Elsa and I headed to the oldest cinema in the UK, the Electric Cinema, for a Film Noir inspired session.
Joel provided us with the male gangster we required and delivered his part superbly. You could tell he was enjoying himself immensely, and who wouldn’t if they were being paid to dress up and act out this part along with fake cigarettes and guns? We had the entire cinema to ourselves and I am have no doubts the environment only helped Joel believe he really was in the 1940s. The lighting was pretty poor with only fixtures on the walls providing nothing more than ambience, and really tested out our skills at using directional light to our advantage. I was shooting exclusively with the 50mm f/1.4, stopping it up to f/2.2 and f/2.8 to sharpen things up, with the 7D hovering between ISO 2500 and ISO 3200.
Post-processing of this shot began with the colour raw and moderate noise reduction. Some dodging was needed in places with burning in others, and some minor cloning in the background to remove any distracting elements. The black and white conversion required two passes; one to correctly deal with the red channel and the other to deal with everything else. Some more selective dodging and burning around the face, hat and gun were needed again and hey presto, we’re done. All that was needed to finish up was some sharpening and vignetting.
I was on the fence about adding digital smoke and making the cigarette look lit. The smoke clearly looks cartoony, but I don’t work for Industrial Light and Magic and I think it gives a fantastical feele and adds a bit of romanticism to the scene.
I’m happy with how it has turned out, with the black and white version having my preference despite the punchier colour version.