When I first began shooting in black & white, I hated noise. I’d do everything I could to get the noise out of a picture. I figured if I could eliminate all noise without making my subjects look like wax figures, I’d done a masterful job. On some level I still suppose that’s true, but I’ve also come to appreciate what noise does to a photograph. It creates authenticity, vulnerability. Noise reduction in photography is a lot like noise reduction in audio, and for those of you old enough to remember Dolby-NR cassette players, you’ll understand when I say that while applying the reduction creates a great avenue for a more clean output, too much of the ambience that makes the recording (or the photograph) so great in the first place simply disappears. Will you enjoy it? Sure. Will you fully experience what it was meant to do or convey? Not at all. A little analogue hiss is fine.
By the way, if you live in New York or are planning a trip here, I highly recommend checking out the Village Underground. In fact, I cannot recommend it highly enough. The house band that plays there from Wednesday-Friday nights is phenomenal; they can play anything, they’re quite hospitable and funny all at the same time. Their level of musicianship and vocal ability is rarely matched (One of the singers, Amanda Brown, recently sang backup vocals for Adele at the 2012 Grammys). I like stopping by occasionally to test ideas in low-light situations, but the band is so good it’s difficult to hold the camera all night when all you want to do is dance.