Creating the Film Noir Look in Lightroom

Creating the Film Noir Look in Lightroom

Sexy portrait transformed into a Film Noir style in Lightroom

By Ed Verosky

One of my favorite photographic styles is the so-called Noir look reminiscent of Hollywood’s post-warFilm Noir period of the 1940s-1950s. I’m also intrigued by the device of the femme fatale in the films of that era. This “bad girl” is often depicted as a sophisticated manipulator capable of luring any man off the straight-and-narrow into a world where every action leads to his inevitable downfall, or at least much regret.

How to create this look

I often like to loosely recreate the feel of Film Noir.  For this image, I placed a single light source high and above the model.  The light produced was good for contrast but too broad and didn’t give me the tight circle of light one associates with old Hollywood glamour and Noir.  For that, I would have needed a grid attachment over my light, barn doors, a snoot, or some other way to narrow the beam to achieve the look I eventually created in post.  Just as post-process vignette can provide the visual effect of a tighter light, so can Lightroom’s Gradient filter.  The illustrations below will give you an idea of how this can be done.

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