• Ian Crowson Photography

Good Day from Southsea - Chiaroscuro and Film Noir Photography

Updated: Sep 27, 2019

Blog of Ian Crowson Photography. Thoughts and advice about taking photos with a drone or a camera. Crow's-eye has landed.

Chiaroscuro, light and dark (Italian) This lighting technique goes back a long way before photography. Leonardo Davinci, Caravaggio, Vermeer, and Rembrandt. all used the technique. More recently German photographer Peter Lindbergh, creator of the 2017 Pirelli Calender, used it in his book Shadows on the World. The book features the mature sensual women from the Calendar including Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, HelenMirren and Charlotte Rampling.

This technique is related to the film noir, 1930/40's Hollywood style of photography. Film noir is a term introduced in the 1940s by French critics Nino Frank and Jean-Pierre Chartier. The French word "noir" translates to "black" or "dark,"


How I made this image.

My photo above is of model Ginger Ninja. We met through Purpleport modelling site. He wanted some photos of himself in a tuxedo, I wanted a model to create some moody chiaroscure type images.

To make this image I used a black background, a stool and a single flash head fitted with a small reflector. This gave a directional light and was placed well away, up from, and to one side of the model. I hand held my Nikon D810 with 85mm f1.8 lens. The flash head was triggered remotely by the camera.

A reflector on a flash head gives a harder more directional light. The light is more focused. A softbox on the other hand softens the light.

Exposure was f13, shutter 1/200th, ISO100, The white balance set to auto. I intended the final photos to be mono so this was less important. I used RAW to record the photo.

I had take a few shots to get the image I was looking for. Ginger lit the lighter and i fired the flash, just a bit of co-ordination. By the way he would be keen for me to say he does not actually smoke.

Post processing was in Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop CC and Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

Silver Efex works as a plug in to Photoshop CC and is a great way to acheive desired results with mono images. Here I was aiming at a grainy, contrasty film feel. Since Google aquired the software, it's now free if you look around.

I acheived my aim of creating an atmospheric image in the chiaroscuro style.

Thanks to Ginger Ninja for his time


Whatever we call them, I just love these black and white, mono, film noir, chiaoscure type of images and will show more of mine in later blogs. A series of similar images can be seen on my iancrowsonphotography.co.uk website

bye from Crow's eye and thanks for visiting

info@mysite.com       Tel: 123-456-7890

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