tedster - 12:58 pm on Aug 13, 2012 (gmt 0)
This is an interesting report. It does seem to indicate that noindex meta tags apply to all page elements - something I never though too much about before.
Have you thought about removing the noindex meta tag and letting Google make that determination on their own? Alternately, you can link to just the large image itself, using "lightbox" technology or one of it's clones such as slimbox.