Tumblr is one of my favorite platforms, and, frankly, I'm surprised that I haven't written about it more (though I did show you how to make a personal collage of it). Much of its value lies in its flexibility and versatility- it's used by major news organizations to present a more easily digestible form of news, and it's used by those who simply want a place to blog alongside one of the web's greatest communities. Part of that flexibility includes giving its users power to fine-tune nearly every aspect of a blog, and that includes visuals. Tumblr has one of the most vibrant communities of designers putting themes together for the highly visual platform, but the selection of free themes can leave a little to be desired for those who prefer a minimalist aesthetic.
Ville Noire Themes steps in to fill that role. The site has a fairly extensive collection of themes that get almost completely out of the way, letting the content do the talking. The result is often striking, especially for photo-heavy blogs (which the themes are obviously built for; I'm using one with mixed results).
Each theme—at least the ones that I've sampled—leaves ample space for each post to breathe, and includes a typewriter-esque font set which, in turn, gives the sense of raw writing in an a wide open space (or is that just me?).
These themes aren't as easily installed as many Tumblr themes, though. That said, installation is still very, very easy, and simply involves a quick copy and paste. To apply a theme, click the "install/code" link below your chosen theme. You'll be redirected to the raw HTML of the theme; just copy the entire page's contents. Head to your Tumblog, click "customize," and on the next page, click "edit HTML" next to your site's thumbnail. Select all of the code you see, and replace the entire thing with the code you just copied (don't worry- your posts will be untouched). Save it, and the new theme is applied. When you back out of the HTML editing section, all of the options associated with the theme you just applied will appear on the main customization page. Most include the option to change colors, the number of columns, and a bit more.
If you're into flashy or word-heavy blogs, these themes are definitely not for you. If you're the proud purveyor of a photoblog, and are looking for an entire suite of themes that get almost completely out of the way, Ville Noir is a very safe bet.