Film Noir Photography Assignment Proposal
CAMS 100: Looking at AnimalsFrom Eadweard Muybridge's groundbreaking proto-cinematic 1887 portfolio, Animal Locomotion, to the prevalence of cats in contemporary YouTube videos, animals have played an important role in moving images. This course explores representations of animals in cinema and the arts more broadly, drawing on rich interdisciplinary sources. Popular media such as Bambi and Discovery Channel's Shark Week shape our understanding of wildlife and distinctions between what it means to be animal and what it means to be human. We will learn to watch media critically, asking questions about production, distribution, and audience, while exploring perspectives in lesser-known and experimental works. 6 credit; Writing Requirement, Argument and Inquiry Seminar; offered Fall 2017 · Laska Jimsen
CAMS 110: Introduction to Cinema and Media StudiesThis course introduces students to the basic terms, concepts and methods used in cinema studies and helps build critical skills for analyzing films, technologies, industries, styles and genres, narrative strategies and ideologies. Students will develop skills in critical viewing and careful writing via assignments such as a short response essay, a plot segmentation, a shot breakdown, and various narrative and stylistic analysis papers. Classroom discussion focuses on applying critical concepts to a wide range of films. Requirements include two evening film screenings per week. Extra time. 6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2017, Winter 2018 · Carol Donelan, Jay S Beck
CAMS 111: Digital Foundations
This class introduces students to the full range of production tools and forms, building both the technical and conceptual skills needed to continue at more advanced levels. We will explore the aesthetics and mechanics of shooting digital video, the role of sound and how to record and mix it, field and studio production, lighting, and editing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. Course work will include individual and group production projects, readings, and writing. This is an essential foundation for anyone interested in moving-image production and learning the specifics of CAMS' studios, cameras, and lighting equipment.6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018 · Catherine Licata, Laska Jimsen, Cecilia M Cornejo
CAMS 170: Story Development Workshop
This course explores the creative practice of developing stories for narrative films. Students will draw inspiration from a variety of sources that are personal, cultural, or observational, and in doing so, develop confidence in their own artistic practice and perspective. We will learn the fundamentals of dramatic tools, use these tools to make screen ideas evolve, consider audience reception, and practice giving and receiving constructive critique. By the end of term, students will have generated ideas for future production projects that reflect their thematic concerns, and have a fully developed outline for a project that may be realized in an upper level production course.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111 6 credit; Arts Practice; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 177: Television Studio Production
In this hands-on studio television production course, students learn professional studio methods and techniques for creating both fiction and nonfiction television programs. Concepts include lighting and set design, blocking actors, directing cameras, composition, switching, sound recording and scripting. Students work in teams to produce four assignments, crewing for each other's productions in front of and behind the camera, in the control room, and in post-production.6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Fall 2017, Winter 2018 · Paul Hager
CAMS 186: Film Genres
In this course we survey four or more Hollywood film genres, including but not limited to the Western, musical, horror film, comedy, and science-fiction film. What criteria are used to place a film in a particular genre? What role do audiences and studios play in the creation and definition of film genres? Where do genres come from? How do genres change over time? What roles do genres play in the viewing experience? What are hybrid genres and subgenres? What can genres teach us about society? Assignments aim to develop skills in critical analysis, research and writing.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, Writing Requirement; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 188: Rock 'n' Roll in Cinema
This course is designed to explore the intersection between rock music and cinema. Taking a historical view of the evolution of the "rock film," this class examines the impact of rock music on the structural and formal aspects of narrative, documentary, and experimental films and videos. The scope of the class will run from the earliest rock films of the mid-1950s through contemporary examples in ten weekly subunits.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, Intercultural Domestic Studies; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 210: Film History IThis course surveys the first half-century of cinema history, focusing on film structure and style as well as transformations in technology, industry and society. Topics include series photography, the nickelodeon boom, local movie-going, Italian super-spectacles, early African American cinema, women film pioneers, abstraction and surrealism, German Expressionism, Soviet silent cinema, Chaplin and Keaton, the advent of sound and color technologies, the Production Code, the American Studio System, Britain and early Hitchcock, Popular Front cinema in France, and early Japanese cinema. Assignments aim to develop skills in close analysis and working with primary sources in researching and writing film history. 6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; offered Fall 2017 · Dimitrios Pavlounis
CAMS 211: Film History IIThis course charts the continued rise and development of cinema 1948-1968, focusing on monuments of world cinema and their industrial, cultural, aesthetic and political contexts. Topics include postwar Hollywood, melodrama, authorship, film style, labor strikes, runaway production, censorship, communist paranoia and the blacklist, film noir, Italian neorealism, widescreen aesthetics, the French New Wave, art cinema, Fellini, Bergman, the Polish School, the Czech New Wave, Japanese and Indian cinema, political filmmaking in the Third World, and the New Hollywood Cinema. Requirements include class attendance and participation, readings, evening film screenings, and various written assignments and exams. 6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; offered Spring 2018 · Dimitrios Pavlounis
CAMS 212: Contemporary Spanish Cinema
This course serves as a historical and critical survey of Spanish cinema from the early 1970s to the present. Topics of study will include the redefinition of Spanish identity in the post-Franco era, the rewriting of national history through cinema, cinematic representations of gender and sexuality, emergent genres, regional cinemas and identities, stars and transnational film projects, and new Spanish auteurs from the 1980s to the present.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 214: Film History III
This course is designed to introduce students to recent film history, 1970-present, and the multiple permutations of cinema around the globe. The course charts the development of national cinemas since the 1970s while considering the effects of media consolidation and digital convergence. Moreover, the course examines how global cinemas have reacted to and dealt with the formal influence and economic domination of Hollywood on international audiences. Class lectures, screenings, and discussions will consider how cinema has changed from a primarily national phenomenon to a transnational form in the twenty-first century.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 216: American Cinema of the 1970s
American cinema from 1967-1979 saw the reconfiguration of outdated modes of representation in the wake of the Hollywood studio system and an alignment of new aesthetic forms with radical political and social perspectives. This course examines the film industry's identity crisis through the cultural, stylistic, and technological changes that accompanied the era. The course seeks to demonstrate that these changes in cinematic practices reflected an agenda of revitalizing American cinema as a site for social commentary and cultural change.6 credit; Intercultural Domestic Studies, Literary/Artistic Analysis; offered Spring 2018 · Jay S Beck
CAMS 218: Contemporary Global Cinemas
This course is designed as a critical study of global filmmakers and the issues surrounding cinema and its circulation in the twenty-first century. The class will emphasize the close reading of films to study different cultural discourses, cinematic styles, genres, and reception. It will look at national, transnational, and diasporic-exilic cinema to consider how films express both cultural forms and contexts. Aesthetic, social, political, and industrial issues also will be examined each week to provide different approaches for cinematic analysis.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 219: African Cinema: A Quest for Identity and Self-Definition
Born as a response to the colonial gaze and discourse, African cinema has been a deliberate effort to affirm and express an African personality and consciousness. Focusing on the film production from West and Southern Africa since the early fifties, this course will entail a discussion of major themes such as colonialism, nationalism and independence, and the analysis of African symbolisms, world-views, and their links to narrative techniques. In this overview, particular attention will be given to the films of Ousmane Sembène, Souleymane Cissé, Mweze Ngangura, Zola Maseko, Oliver Schmitz, Abderrahmane Sissako and many others.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 225: Film Noir: The Dark Side of the American Dream
After Americans grasped the enormity of the Depression and World War II, the glossy fantasies of 1930s cinema seemed hollow indeed. During the 1940s, the movies, our true national pastime, took a nosedive into pessimism. The result? A collection of exceptional films chocked full of tough guys and bad women lurking in the shadows of nasty urban landscapes. This course focuses on classic as well as neo-noir from a variety of perspectives, including genre and mode, visual style and narrative structure, postwar culture and politics, and gender and race.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, Intercultural Domestic Studies; offered Fall 2017 · Carol Donelan
CAMS 236: Israeli Society in Israeli CinemaThis course will introduce students to the global kaleidoscope that is Israeli society today. Since the 1980s the Israeli public has increasingly engaged with its multicultural character, particularly through films and documentaries that broaden national conversation. Our approach to exploring the emerging reflection of Israel’s diversity in its cinema will be thematic. We will study films that foreground religious-secular, Israeli-Palestinian, gender, sexual orientation, and family dynamics, as well as Western-Middle Eastern Jewish relations, foreign workers or refugees in Israel, army and society, and Holocaust memory. With critical insights from the professor’s interviews with several directors and Israeli film scholars. Conducted in English, all films subtitled. Evening film screenings. 6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 236F: Israeli Society in Israeli Cinema - FLAC Hebrew TrailerThis course is a supplement in Hebrew for CAMS 236, Israeli Society in Israeli Cinema. Open to students currently in Hebrew 103 or higher, we will watch particular film clips from class without subtitles and discuss them in Hebrew. We will also read and discuss some critical reviews not available in English, and a sample of scholarly writing in Hebrew on Israeli film and social history.Prerequisites: Hebrew 102 and concurrent registration in Cinema and Media Studies 236 2 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 240: Adaptation
Film adaptations of pre-existing texts (from songs to novels) have been around almost as long as cinema itself, and the percent of film adaptations continues to grow. (Of the top two-thousand movies over the last twenty years fifty-one percent were adaptations.) In this course we will take a chronological journey through the history of film adaptations in a variety of film cultures, considering along the way the processes involved in translating narratives from words to visual media, and how the cinematic has come to shape the literary (reverse adaptation). Discussions and assignments will aim at both analysis and practice.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 242: Sound and Music in TV and New MediaThis course covers the theory and production of sound and music in radio, electronic soundscapes, electroacoustic music, and film and video. The course will focus on the aesthetics, theory and practice of sound in these media. Students will create sound artworks in a laboratory component, using Logic Pro and other sound engineering software. Students will produce several audio projects, including a podcast of a radio show, an electronic musique concrete or sound art piece, and a musical accompaniment to a short film or video using pre-existing music. Music reading and/or knowledge of musical recording software helpful but not required.Prerequisites: Music reading and/or knowledge of musical recording software helpful but not required. 6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Winter 2018 · Ronald Rodman
CAMS 243: Film Sound History
Although cinema is an audio-visual medium, there has long been a tendency to privilege the visual component of film over the elements of film sound. In an attempt to redress this imbalance, this course will focus on the technological, cultural, and theoretical histories of film sound throughout the twentieth century. We will examine the transition to sound in United States and European cinema, radio's role in the development of sound aesthetics, standardized and alternative sound practices, the role and use of music in cinema, and the complex effects of contemporary sound technologies on the medium and experience of film.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 245: The Essay Film
This course explores a hybrid cinematic genre whose critical and creative energies spring from the collision of traditionally separated spheres: documentary and fiction, text and image, private and public, reason and intuition. We focus on the intersection where creative practice and intellectual inquiry meet through theoretical readings, film screenings, and the fulfillment of various production exercises aimed at the production of original film work. Screenings include works by Carmen Castillo, Chris Marker, Ignacio Agüero, Jem Cohen, Agnés Varda, Harun Farocki, Jonas Mekas, and other filmmakers who have explored this hybrid form.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111 6 credit; Arts Practice; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 246: Documentary Studies
This course explores the relevance and influence of documentary films by closely examining the aesthetic concerns and ethical implications inherent in these productions. We study these works both as artistic undertakings and as documents produced within a specific time, culture, and ideology. Central to our understanding of the form are issues of technology, methodology, and ethics, which are examined thematically as well as chronologically. The course offers an overview of the major historical movements in documentary film along more recent works; it combines screenings, readings, and discussions with the goal of preparing students to both understand and analyze documentary films.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; offered Winter 2018 · Cecilia M Cornejo
CAMS 248: From Cops to Cartoons: Television Genres
This course is an introduction to television studies through examination of TV genres from early television to the present. Genres such as the Western, Cop/Detective drama, Soap Opera, Game Show, News/Sports, Reality TV, Situation Comedy, Animated Cartoons, and Advertising will be covered. The course will focus on how television genre categories are defined in theory, but often hybridized in practice. The course will also provide a historical perspective on these genres, and analysis of programs from visual, sound, and musical perspectives to observe how each has evolved over time.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, Writing Requirement; offered Spring 2018 · Ronald Rodman
CAMS 256: Digital Cinema Culture
The phrase “going to the movies” is perhaps more meaningless than ever. Not only do the proliferation of screens, ubiquity of cinematic conventions, and ease of media access make it seem as though we are always-already at the movies, but the definition of what a movie is seems to be in constant flux. This course addresses the issue of twenty-first century film culture by exploring how emerging media technologies have reconfigured the meaning and function of cinema in the “digital age.” Topics include media convergence, digital bodies, video games and VR, digital exhibition and distribution, social media, cinephilia, and fandom.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis; offered Fall 2017 · Dimitrios Pavlounis
CAMS 257: Video Games and Identity
As video games have emerged as a dominant cultural form, they have become deeply intertwined with broader cultural debates around identity. By analyzing a variety of specific games as well as the industry that creates them and the communities who play them, we will think through topics such as liberal multiculturalism, neoliberal capitalism, feminism, queerness, ethical design, the military-entertainment complex, GamerGate, and discourses of political correctness. This course will avoid categorizing games as having “positive” or “negative” social effects and will instead focus on how video games function as a window into issues of identity in U.S. culture.6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis; offered Winter 2018 · Dimitrios Pavlounis
CAMS 265: Sound Design
This course examines the theories and techniques of sound design for film and video. Students will learn the basics of audio recording, sound editing and multi-track sound design specifically for the moving image. The goal of the course is a greater understanding of the practices and concepts associated with soundtrack development through projects using recording equipment and the digital audio workstation for editing and mixing.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111 or instructor permission 6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Spring 2018 · Jay S Beck
CAMS 270: Nonfiction
This course addresses nonfiction media as both art form and historical practice by exploring the expressive, rhetorical, and political possibilities of nonfiction production. A focus on relationships between form and content and between makers, subjects, and viewers will inform our approach. Throughout the course we will pay special attention to the ethical concerns that arise from making media about others' lives. We will engage with diverse modes of nonfiction production including essayistic, experimental, and participatory forms and create community videos in partnership with CCCE and local organizations. The class culminates in the production of a significant independent nonfiction media project.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111 or instructor permission 6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Fall 2017 · Laska Jimsen
CAMS 271: Fiction
Through a series of exercises, students will explore the fundamentals of making narrative films. Areas of focus in this course include visual storytelling and cinematography, working with actors, and story structure. Through readings, screenings, and writing exercises, we will analyze how mood, tone, and themes are constructed through formal techniques. Course work includes individual and group exercise, and culminates in individual short narrative projects.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111 and one additional Cinema and Media Studies course 6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Winter 2018 · Catherine Licata
CAMS 273: Digital Editing Workshop
This course introduces students to the art of motion picture editing by combining theoretical and aesthetic study with hands-on work using the non-linear digital video editing software Adobe Premiere. We explore graphic, temporal, spatial, rhythmic and aural relationships in a variety of moving image forms including classical narrative continuity and documentary storytelling. Underscoring the strong links between concept, direction, shooting, and editing, this course examines the close ties between production and post-production. Through editing assignments and class critique, students develop expressive techniques and proficiency in basic video and sound editing and post-production workflow.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111 6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Winter 2018 · Catherine Licata
CAMS 278: Writing for Television
TV is a very specific, time-driven medium. Using examples from scripts and DVDs, students will learn how to write for an existing TV show, keeping in mind character consistency, pacing, tone, and compelling storylines. Students will also get a taste of what it's like to be part of a writing staff as the class itself creates an episode from scratch. Topics such as creating the TV pilot, marketing, agents, managers, and more will be discussed. Finally, general storytelling tools such as creating better dialogue, developing fully-rounded characters, making scene work more exciting, etc., will also be addressed.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 110 or 111 or permission of instructor 6 credit; Arts Practice, Writing Requirement; offered Spring 2018 · Andrew L Rosendorf
CAMS 279: Screenwriting
This course teaches students the fundamentals of screenwriting. Topics include understanding film structure, writing solid dialogue, creating dimensional characters, and establishing dramatic situations. Art, craft, theory, form, content, concept, genre, narrative strategies and storytelling tools are discussed. Students turn in weekly assignments, starting with short scenes and problems and then moving on to character work, synopses, outlines, pitches and more. The goal is for each student to write a 15 to 25 page script for a short film by the end of the term.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 110 6 credit; Arts Practice, Writing Requirement; offered Fall 2017 · Michael Elyanow
CAMS 286: AnimationAnimation will explore both traditional, handmade animation and computer-based animation software. The course will emphasize skills in observation, perception, and technique using both old and new technologies. Exercises will build skills in creating believable and cinematic locomotion, gesture, and characters in diverse media including drawing by hand on cards, software-based animation, and stop-motion. The final project gives students the opportunity to develop more advanced skills in one, or a combination, of the techniques covered in class to create a self-directed animation project.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111 and one Cinema and Media Studies 200-level studio production course or instructor permission 6 credit; Arts Practice; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 288: Experimental Film & Video Production
A process-based production course focused on the conceptual and technical concerns of experimental film, video, and other time-based arts. We will explore the personal, cultural, political, and formal/aesthetic aspects of experimental media through readings, writings, screenings, and the production of experimental media projects. Key course concerns include medium specificity and relationships between sound and image, form and content, and theory and practice. We will consider “experimental” as a working practice rather than a genre--a way of testing hypotheses and a process of discovery.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111 or instructor permission 6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Spring 2018 · Laska Jimsen
CAMS 295F: Cinema in Chile and Argentina-FLAC
This course is an ancillary reading/discussion-based trailer for Cinema and Media Studies 295; the FLAC section will be a Spanish-language addition to the English-language course. Cinema and Media Studies 295 will provide the set of background knowledge that students taking the trailer will use to discuss Spanish-language texts.Prerequisites: Spanish 204 and concurrent registration in Cinema and Media Studies 295 2 credit; Does not fulfill a curricular exploration requirement; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 295: Cinema in Chile and Argentina: Representing and Reimagining IdentityThrough an examination of fiction and documentary films, this course offers a broad historical and cultural overview of Chile and Argentina. The course examines significant political events, cultural developments, and cinema movements including the rise and decline of the politically-engaged New Latin American Cinema movement of the late 1960s, the cinematic diaspora of the 1970s and 1980s, the cultural and artistic responses after the return to democracy, the commercial consolidation of each country's film industry and cultural production in the 1990s, and recent attempts to create a local audiovisual language with an international appeal. This course is part of an off-campus winter break program involving two linked courses in fall and winter terms. Students who take Cinema and Media Studies 295 must also enroll in Cinema and Media Studies 296 in the winter term.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 296 required winter term 6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 296: Cinema and Cultural Change in Chile and ArgentinaThis course is the second part of a two-term sequence beginning with Cinema and Media Studies 295. In order to bring the students into contact with the cultural and social discourses examined in Cinema and Media Studies 295, this course begins with a study trip to Santiago and Buenos Aires during the first two weeks in December. Our time will be spent visiting filmmakers, producers, scholars, and cultural organizations that shape filmmaking practices and cultural production. The course meets once early in winter term and then involves individual meetings with the faculty during the first five weeks. The course then meets regularly during the second half of winter term, when students formally present their projects followed by a group discussion.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 295 6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis, International Studies; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 320: Sound Studies Seminar
This course presents the broader field of Sound Studies, its debates and issues. Drawing on a diverse set of interdisciplinary perspectives, the seminar explores the range of academic work on sound to examine the relationship between sound and listening, sound and perception, sound and memory, and sound and modern thought. Topics addressed include but are not limited to sound technologies and industries, acoustic perception, sound and image relations, sound in media, philosophies of listening, sound semiotics, speech and communication, voice and subject formation, sound art, the social history of noise, and hearing cultures.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 110 or instructor permission 6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis; offered Winter 2018 · Jay S Beck
CAMS 330: Cinema Studies Seminar
The purpose of this seminar is guide students in developing and consolidating their conceptual understanding of theories central to the field of cinema studies. Emphasis is on close reading and discussion of classical and contemporary theories ranging from Eisenstein, Kracauer, Balazs, Bazin and Barthes to theories of authorship, genre and ideology and trends in contemporary theory influenced by psychoanalysis, phenomenology and cognitive studies.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 110 or instructor permission 6 credit; Literary/Artistic Analysis; offered Spring 2018 · Dimitrios Pavlounis
CAMS 370: Junior Production Workshop
In this course, students will develop a concept and complete pre-production for their CAMS production comps. Students will draw inspiration from a variety of sources that are personal, cultural, or observational, and in doing so, develop confidence in their own artistic practice and perspective. We will review the fundamentals of dramatic tools, use these tools to make screen ideas evolve, refine formal strategies, consider audience reception, and practice giving and receiving constructive critique.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111, and either Cinema and Media Studies 270 or 271 6 credit; Arts Practice; offered Spring 2018 · Catherine Licata
CAMS 371: Senior Production Workshop
Senior Production Workshop is taken in conjunction with CAMS 400 for students competing production comps. Production projects are inherently collaborative; this course supports collaboration through workshops, crewing, and informed critique. This course is the second in the advanced production workshop sequence with a focus on production and post-production. Prior to registering for the course, students must submit a project proposal to the instructor. Please contact instructor for further information. Final enrollment is based on the quality of the proposal.Prerequisites: Cinema and Media Studies 111, and either Cinema and Media Studies 270 or Cinema and Media Studies 271. Project proposal required 6 credit; Arts Practice; not offered 2017–2018
CAMS 400: Integrative Exercise6 credit; S/NC; offered Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018 · Carol Donelan, Laska Jimsen, Catherine Licata, Dimitrios Pavlounis, Jay S Beck
I have always had a soft spot for 1940s and 50s Film Noir, where there is always a gorgeous Femme Fatale, whose charms are most likely going to get you killed. The light in those movies is the key to the ambience of mystery and danger, and I love the way the scenes are composed with smoke, shadows, and the black and white high drama with dim light aesthetic.
These movies were mostly low-budget productions shot on location in city streets, with an abundance of night scenes, where crime is the main plot. Low-key lighting is the common thread of Film Noir, with harsh light that create deep shadows, resulting in a high contrast black and white.
As a photographer the actresses’ portraits that were used by the studios for promotion really fascinate me, and I guess it influences a lot of my portraiture work.
In this article I am going to follow the steps to create this image that is a recreation of a Hollywood Film Noir portrait, done with modern equipment, and digital post-production techniques.
As for every photography work, it is always a good idea to do some research, and look for inspiration. Here I used references from one of my favorite movies of all time, “Touch of Evil”, directed by the great Orson Welles in 1958.
Camera and lens
The choice of equipment is an important starting point. In this particular case I used a Canon 5D III body with a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM lens. This is my favorite lens when it comes to portrait work, it offers the perfect combination of good sharpness and awesome bokeh.
These images were originally lit, in most cases, with incandescent high-power bulbs, and the quality and direction of the light was mostly controlled with barn doors and Fresnel spotlights.
I decided to use two Canon 600EX-RT Speedlites, controlled by a Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite transmitter. This created a simple setup with a gridded softbox working as a hard key light on the model’s face, and a 20º grid as a hair light to separate the model from the background.
Usually in studio portrait images, I try to decide the exposure based on the depth of field I want to create on the image. In this particular case, I chose to use f/8.0, as it gave me enough depth of field in the face area, with the 85mm focal length.
The shutter speed is the second important factor and I chose to use 1/125, as it blocked any possible ambient light, and only register the light from the flash.
The ISO 100 is enough for the flash power available, and offers me a clean and noiseless image.
Every time I have an idea for an image I try to put it on paper. Most of the time it is just doodles in my little black book, but it helps me to visualize the setup, and the light ambiance that I want to create. Here is the quick sketch I did for this image, which represents the lighting diagram and technical information for the photo shoot.
After setting the starting point values for the camera, it’s time to calculate the light position and power, to create the desired effect.
The background was white so a distance to subject of seven feet was enough to turn it black, which works much better with a blonde model.
The idea was to have light on half of the model’s face, and a quick fall-off to the other side, creating a mysterious mood in the image. The gridded softbox was ideal for this effect. The 20º grid created a rim light on the hair and a ratio of 2:1 to the main light, so metering was f/8.0 for the main light and f/11 for the hair light.
The click time
Now that everything is set, it’s time to click. Even tough the final image was meant to be black and white, I captured it in color mode as it gives me better choices for conversion in post-production.
There are many tools and plugins for black and white image conversion. In this case I used the Photoshop’s black and white tool which is a simple but effective solution.
Image > Adjustments > Black & White
A few adjustments to the red and yellow channel gave me the right contrast on the skin and overall image, creating the dramatic mood.
So, here is my approach to the Film Noir portrait. It sure was fun. If you give this technique a try, please share your results and images in the comments below.