Nooms began his life as a sailor, in which capacity he worked on the main trade routes to Northern Europe and along the Mediterranean coastline. In reference to his career, of which he was clearly very proud, he adopted the surname 'Zeeman' ('Seaman'), by which name he regularly signed his works. Nooms's paintings of ships are full of accurate detail, demonstrating the keen eye and understanding of a professional sailor in his delineation of hull and rigging. The small figures lining the shore are typical of much of his work, often depicted engaging in activities typical of seaport life, such as loading and unloading cargo or repairing vessels at anchor, as also, for example, in the Mediterranean coastal landscape in the Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Brunswick. Nooms's experiences on the north African coastline account for the slightly exotic atmosphere that permeates many of his marines.
Nooms was also distinguished as an etcher. Among his 170 plates are two etched series of views of Amsterdam: Verscheyde schepen en gesichten van Amsterdam ('Various ships and views of Amsterdam') and Nieuwe en eugententlycke afbeeldinghe der stads-poorten van Amsterdam ('New and original representations of the city gates of Amsterdam'). These accomplished prints are among the first to concentrate on accurate rendering of architecture and were forerunners of the townscapes that were produced prolifically in the eighteenth century.