Lighting a Dramatic, Simple Film Noir-Style Portrait with Erik Valind [RF Video of the Week]

By // March 18, 2016 // Posted in Portrait, Video, Video of the Week

It’s unlikely that you can talk about film noir-style portraits without mentioning the lighting setup. The dramatic shadows and highlights that define the subjects play a key role in the signature style, and it’s not always clear from looking at a portrait how the photographer pulled off the setup to capture the dramatic look. We’ve broken down plenty of lighting setups before that emphasize drama in portraits and wedding photos—including Linsday Adler’s striking fashion photographySeth and Beth Kerechanin’s innovative approaches to lighting wedding portraits, and even offered some tips for achieving the film noir look.

Here, New York City-based lifestyle portrait photographer Erik Valind gives you hands-on dramatic lighting tips with a video that teaches you how to capture a low-key, high-contrast, film noir portrait for your clients using accessible gear and realistic setups. Valind uses only two flashes: a Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting System and a Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grid in his set—no large lights or heavy modifiers needed!

For the main light, Valind says the Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grid creates a directional spot light that gives a crisp edge to the subject’s shadows. Using the 45° spot allows him to create a circular shape to the light with nice fall-off. He uses a strip bank (which he says is like a soft box, but slimmer) that gives a narrow strip of soft light. Valind also forms the FlashBender 2 XL Pro into a gridded strip, which makes the flash source larger in size, and in turn, the light is softer but also directional. “This gives us surgical precision, highlighting what we want, hiding what we don’t,” he says. All in all, Valind says, “[this process] creates a stunning high-contrast portrait that is great for models, seniors and boudoir!”

Related: Bright Lights, Big Impact: Breaking Down 4 Setups Behind Signature Styles

How Lindsay Adler Elevates Drama with Lighting

Three Approaches to Personalized Beauty Looks

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Stacey Goldberg

Stacey Goldberg

Stacey Goldberg is the online editor for Rangefinder and its sister publication, PDN. Originally from the suburbs of New York, she graduated from Lafayette College in 2012 and is currently working toward her MBA at the NYU Stern School of Business.

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