•COMING IN SEPTEMBER, 2015•

Brass Valley: The Fall of an American Industry

by Emery Roth

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Noir Technicolor


WALKER EVANS: "The meaning of quality in photography’s best pictures lies written in the language of vision. That language is learned by chance, not system; ...our overwhelming formal education deals in words, mathematical figures and methods of rational thought, not in images."

ARISTOTLE: "You should never think without an image."

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Stop. If you've looked at this picture and haven't seen the word, INTERNATIONAL on the dashboard, you might want to go back, turn down a few lights around your computer monitor, and get the image as close to full screen as possible.

There now...

Before posting, I always consider the danger of redundancy. Often exhibiting two slightly different versions of the same basic composition suggests neither of them is quite right. I post them both in order to consider their differences. However, if forced to chose I would pick this.

A number of people wrote to say that they liked "Farm Noir," but that it seemed unlike my other photos. It's not the subject that's new. There are other car shots on TODAY'S; it's a subject I return to from time to time. What's different in "Farm Noir" is the immediately recognizable, cinema, blue-gray, soft-focus wash of stylization. One can argue whether "Noir Technicolor" is really noir at all; "Farm Noir," leaves no doubt. Making such literal allusions has never been something I do.

Jane and I have been watching a lot of Film Noir lately, and I was consciously enjoying the noir ambiance as I shot seven distinct compositional groups of shots. So why is this the shot of choice? I think mostly because this is more true to what drew me to shoot here. Before I began shooting, I liked the high-contrast lighting on the steering wheel, it's noir possibilities. I liked the control HDR tone mapping would give me to reveal clearly just enough shadow detail down the dashboard, another noir effect. However, those things didn't draw me to shoot. Rather it was the wonderful windshield splashed with the late-day sun, a backlit, abstract, firecracker of a mural framed by the dashboard. This shot makes the most of it.

Having said that I prefer "Noir Technicolor," others are, of course, free to chose differently or reject both, and I'm delighted that I can keep both.