Monthly Archives: April 2016

Noise Levels – Vogue China Shoot Victoria Beckham

One of the previous exercises for this module was looking at noise levels. As a general rule, noise is considered to be distracting and unattractive in photography. It is strongly associated with film photography.  I’ve been aware of this recently and have been trying to reduce noise levels in my photography.

I saw this article printed with The Daily Mail Online of Victoria Beckham being photographed for Vogue China:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3531293/Victoria-Beckham-officially-lets-hair-extremely-kooky-Vogue-shoot.html

While the main focus of the article is her badly photoshopped thigh, what struck me was the intentional noise/grain levels. The images are dark and grainy, and I really like it. It adds a grungy, vintage feel. I think this is enhanced as the images are black and white and perhaps this technique may not work so well with colour, but it throws out the idea that noise in photography should be avoided. Intentionally using noise or adding grain can work to the photographers advantage.

This article raised two questions for me:

  • was the photographer shooting digitally, and film grain was purposely added later on in post production?
  • Were the photographs actually shot on black and white film?

Digital noise and film grain are not the same.

Noise is defined as: (courtesy of wikipedia)

Image noise is random (not present in the object imaged) variation of brightness or color information in images, and is usually an aspect of electronic noise. It can be produced by the sensor and circuitry of a scanner or digital camera. Image noise can also originate in film grain and in the unavoidable shot noise of an ideal photon detector. Image noise is an undesirable by-product of image capture that adds spurious and extraneous information.

Film grain is defined as: (courtesy of wikipedia)

Film grain or granularity is the random optical texture of processed photographic film due to the presence of small particles of a metallic silver, or dye clouds, developed from silver halide that have received enough photons. While film grain is a function of such particles (or dye clouds) it is not the same thing as such. It is an optical effect, the magnitude of which (amount of grain) depends on both the film stock and the definition at which it is observed. It can be objectionably noticeable in an over-enlarged photographic film photograph.

My photographers eye is not trained enough to distinguish matter-of-factly how it was shot, but if I had to take a guess, i’d say film grain was added in production to give this effect.

It’s definitely something worth experimenting with…..