I am just showcasing some of the projects we worked on this (autumn) term. Here is a great exercise for studying manual mode in extreme lighting conditions. Plus it’s great fun!

We can learn a great deal from the directors and cinematographers of the classic movies. Just looking at the cinema of the late 1930s and 1940s – the film noir era – we can see masterful creation of atmosphere, the use of dramatic shadows and silhouettes, glamour and gritty story telling. The Third Man (1949) is the archetype of this genre but have a look at The Maltese Falcon (1941), Double Indemnity (1944) or The Big Sleep (1946).Even films like Chinatown (1974), The Driver (1978) and Taxi Driver (1976) can be described as neo noir.

As a class we took to the streets in search of alleyways, sodium lamps and doorways where many a hard boiled detective or bad guy would be proud to hang out. We took a few simple props of raincoats and fedora hats. A cigarette lighter is useful to cast light on the face. For lighting we relied exclusively on ambient light and used manual mode. In this situation ISO is going to be the crucial factor. We set ISO 1600 to gain as much receptivity as possible. We shouldn’t go below 1/60th of a second to avoid the risk of subject or camera movement so we made this shutter speed our starting point. I suggest putting aperture at maximum – so f/3.5, or f/2 – whatever you have. Set a standard (50mm) or wideangle (18 – 35mm) focal length and get close in. If you want extra flexibility take an LED torch and use it to cast light on the face but obviously don’t shine it directly into the eyes.

I think you will agree we got shots with tremendous atmosphere and style. All the marvellous images below were taken by students. Well done folks!