Just for fun… In my last post I showed my Hollywood portrait lighting style using just hard light from fresnel spotlights. The post before that featured two point lighting on the street using Speedlights. Now I’ve combined two point lighting with fresnel spotlights and styled the shoot with a Film Noir theme. Film Noir calls for some dramatic acting and there is no better actress for this role than Chloe-Jasmine. Let the drama begin.


1. Chloe-Jasmine Whichello on the cellar stairs at Pipwell Hall in the UK. I used a Lupolux LED 650 light as a back light by resting on the top step and I used an LED 1000 on a stand to my right. I fitted the key light with a Scattergel to give the wonderful dappled look. There was no other light in the cellar so I could add as much as I wanted without having to match the existing colour or quantity. It’s important for Film Noir images to have depth and the back light in this picture delivers just that. Notice how it kicks off the tips of the stair treads to define the set.

The Wikipedia entry for Film noir is “…a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasise cynical attitudes and sexual motivations.” Hollywood’s classical Film Noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s however it often depicted scenes from just after the great depression of 1929 – 1933.

LED fresnels can run on battery even though they deliver the equivalent of 1000w of tungsten light but with a daylight colour balance. I use inverter battery packs that are Li-Ion powered and last for between two and four hours depending upon what light I’m using.


2. For this picture of Chloe-Jasmine I used an Arri Junior 300 tungsten fresnel dimmed to half power as a key light and a 100w Li-Ion battery powered Lowel iD light as a back light. I set my exposure by the table lamp on the piano and added each light in turn adjusting the power until I had a good balance. I put a third photographic light into the shot to light the interior of the Piano. The Arri 150w Junior is perfect for such tasks.

I always set my camera to manual exposure to ensure the lighting build is consistently represented in the image. Aperture priority is not usable because of the massive swings in exposure that happen with a change in composition.


3. With Chloe-Jasmine up the ladder it was not possible to get a back light in. but when she was sitting at the table in the shot below I placed my Lowel iD light on the top of the bookcase you see here. The key light was the trusty Arri 300 Junior for both pictures.


4. Open fires always peg the exposure to ISO 400, 1/60th second at f/2. The mantelpiece was lit by the practical lights that you can see in the the shot above. I fitted 40w bulbs to these lamps.


5. I came around to close the composition. You can clearly see the props I’d bought on Ebay plus the de activated hand gun that I borrowed. The typewriter is a Remington portable from 1932 and it still works perfectly. You can clearly see the halation around the fire highlights and the sequins on Chloe-Jasmines dress. This is a consequence of theTiffen 1/4 black pro mist filter that I use on my lenses for all interior shoots.

The shadow of the man in the main picture at the top of this post was created with a cardboard cut out and a spotlight. I didn’t have the budget for a second model so my creative assistant Luke made one for me.


6. Meet Frank, my cardboard cut out gangster. Luke sketched him onto A4 paper. I photographed the sketch and we projected it life size onto a sheet of AO size foam core taped to the door. Luke then drew Frank full size on the board and cut him out. The rest was up to me and my spotlights.

You can connect with me by leaving a comment below. You can also message me on Twitter. I always respond to all messages and questions. If you want to stalk me :) you can have a rummage through my personal blog: Prophotonut.

In my next post I’ll share my 10 step guide for using location flash in full sun.


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Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. Damien, I don’t know whether to love your work or hate it! Incredible shots and fun explanations – still, despite all that, I wonder how you do it so well!? Love the props ;0) Great stuff! Best, Rob

    • Hi Rob, Haha, Thanks for the comment. It’s what we Brits call a Marmite scenario. Anyway, my secrets will all be revealed in a video that is currently being reviewed by Levi Sim. Now, I’ve no idea what his review will be like, all I know is I’ve released the first 17 minutes of the feature length production to be published here on Photofocus in the coming weeks. You will either love it or hate it :)

  2. Damien – you consistently have the best stuff here on Photofocus. Thank you for this.

  3. Hi Damien, outstanding images – and fantastic wording coming along with them :) Thanks for another inspiring article!

  4. […] Photophocus, Damien Lovegrove nos trae un pequeño tutorial para mostrarnos cómo organizó una sesión de […]

  5. Consistently impressed with your stuff Damien! Do you have other videos other than the one you mentioned you are coming out with where you actually show how you go through this from the concept to actually executing it on camera and the post work?

  6. Reblogged this on Max Shields and commented:
    Some great tips on shooting Film Noir portraits.

  7. Do you use any modifiers on the lights?


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Cinematography, Lighting, Lighting, Photography, Portrait, Shooting, Technique & Tutorials