iPhoneography Tutorial: Noir Photos

A New iPhoneography Tutorial from David Hayes

noir1There are many elements that will attract the “eye” to a photo. The subject matter, the colors, the composition…and what I consider the most important element, the interplay of lights and darks.  Many a time I’ll reject an image because I didn’t like the lighting…and I’m not talking about the exposure. Instead it was a case of not enough “drama” in the image.

Fortunately there are a number of apps available that when used properly, let you put that need drama into an image. One such app is Noir Photo. In this short tutorial I’d like to show you how I used Noir to give some interest or drama to what otherwise would be a pretty mundane image.



Here’s what I started with. A simple still life shot against a black background with as even of lighting as I could achieve at the moment. Not very interesting!! So let’s see what Noir can do for it!!


In this screen shot, I’ve opened Noir and have brought in my source image. Noir will use one of its presets for the opening screen in this case it’s the sepia filter.

At this point I thought a quick tour around the control panel would be helpful. The icons circled at the top right (A) are the presets for color and shape of the selection ellipse. I rarely use these any more as it’s easy enough to set the shape and size of the ellipse your self. The control panel underneath this (B) gives your light color choices. Over to the left you’ll find the controls for the light intensity in the different areas of your image. The first dial on the left (C) controls the intensity outside the ellipse, dial (D) controls the intensity inside the ellipse, and dial (E) controls the overall intensity of the image. Each of these allows for great fine-tuning throughout your image. (For more info on this app, click on icon (F) in the lower right corner.)



Touching on the screen will bring up an ellipse that you can shape and position using the usual one or two finger pinch/move techniques. When you do this, be thinking of where you’d like your lights and darks in the image…and don’t be afraid to play around with this as it’s easy enough to change! In the screen shot, I’ve placed an ellipse where I think I’d like my lights and darks to fall.


Now it’s time to play around with the intensity controls! As you can see from this screen shot, I’ve decided to use these settings with the sepia filter: 54% for the outer areas, 0% for the inner areas of the ellipse, and an overall setting of 30%. This definitely gives the source image a little more “interest” and “drama”.


Rather than show you these in separate screen shots, I used the app Diptic to put together this “foursome” showing the different color filters at work with the same intensity settings as above. (Normally at this point, I’d probably do some adjusting of the settings with each color to optimize my intensities.)


Let’s take a look at what happens when you change the placement of the ellipse. In this screen shot, I’ve moved the ellipse to focus on the wooden ball and to “push back” everything else.


This time, I used these settings: 0% for my outside areas, 32/33% for the inside areas, and 32/33% for the overall intensity setting. A big difference from the first images!


And…here’s the foursome showing each color filter at work…again with the same settings as above.


So there you have it…a quick overview of how I used Noir Photo. I hope you found this to be useful.

As always, please don’t be shy with your comments and questions, as I do love hearing from you.

David Hayes is a photographer, mixed-media artist, painter and explorer of life. Visit his blog at clearerreflections.com.

Photo Craft_160Learn more about digitally altering photographs in Photo Craft: Creative Mixed Media and Digital Approaches to Transforming Your Photographs by Susan Tuttle and Christy Hydeck.




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