Friday, May 23, 2008

Film Noir Macros

This past Monday the theme in the Macro Mondays group in Flickr was "film noir." I've been watching a lot of film noir in the past year, so I was excited for the theme. Just earlier this week I watched a film noir classic In a Lonely Place with Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame. I thought it was a very good, but tense film. I'm biased though as I'm a big Bogart fan due to many of his film noir efforts like Dark Passage, High Sierra, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, etc. and I've always liked Gloria Grahame. She played Violet in It's a Wonderful Life, but I liked her best in the film noir classic The Big Heat. I'm not a huge Glenn Ford fan, but The Big Heat is a great film and Gloria gives a solid performance.

Although I was familiar with the style, I wasn't sure how to do that in a macro. The film noir look is also a very different style of photography than I'm used to shooting so it was a challenge to get the right gritty, dark mood. I was happy with the outcome and the first shot made Flickr's Explore.

For my first shot I wanted to capture a murder scene and decided to use a bloody knife at the main subject. I used a piece of tapestry left over from this project as my background. I used concentrated cherry juice as my blood and used a stick to spatter some "blood" on the cloth. It took quite a bit to get a gruesome murder scene look. I also put some on the knife blade and on the handle where the bloody glove would have been holding it. To make the blood stand out in black & white, I used a green filter to enhance the red color (or darken it in b&w). I used a snoot on the flash to localize the light and did some post-processing to even enhance the vignette effect. Here is the result.

Reminants of a Murder

For my second shot, I tried to create a photo of items on Sam Spade's desk under light shining through the window from a streetlight or the moon. I wanted to create a shadow effect from the window pane or writing on the window. I was stymied until I discussed it with Dianne and she quickly suggested printing what I wanted on a transparency and then hold that above and shine a light through to create a shadow. She's full of great ideas! So what would Sam have on his desk? Probably a revolver, some cigarettes (which I had to buy), and matches. I used a flashlight with a tight beam to light the scene through the transparency of a skylight window pane. This is borderline macro -- maybe an up close still life. Again I did a little post-processing to enhance the vignette. Here is the result.

Sam's Desk in Moonlight


~Carla~ said...

I cannot believe you bought a $8 dollar pack of cigarettes!! (ok, not $8, but still!!) GREAT shots, GREAT effects! Very impressive!

Steve-O said...

Hi... stumbled on your site this weekend.

Any way you could make a film noir banner I could use to rotate with the ones I have at

I love the cigarette photo...