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Ten Tips That Will Help You Take Unique Pictures of Neon Signs

Posted by Jacob Hawthorne on

Ah, those bright, neon lights. They look so exciting. They make terrific photography subjects.

But neon signs are not easy to photograph. They look best in the dark. So how does one set their camera to take a picture of a bright light against a dark background? Here are some helpful tips.

Use a Large Aperture

To get a large aperture, you will need to set your f-stop number low. This is ideal for taking pictures in low light. Keep in mind that this will also create a blurred background so it’s best for taking a photo of a neon sign against a background that does not have a lot of detail.

Use a High ISO

A high ISO will help you take bright, crisp photos. Some people are reluctant to turn their ISO’s too high because they feel they will create noise. However, with the right exposure, you will be able to eliminate all unnecessary noise. In a worst-case scenario, you can always eliminate noise while editing.

Work with Human Subjects

Incorporating human subjects in a neon light shoot may not seem practical but it will cause you to go outside the box to get unique results. You’ll have to come up with unique ways to illuminate your subjects and it will really boost your nighttime photography skills.

Work With Glasses

Photographer Brandon Woelfel has introduced a new trend of photographing people with a neon sign reflected in their glasses. Unlike other types of photos where photographers will want to keep reflections out of their subject’s glasses lens, this one embraces the aesthetic. Getting this effect perfect is not easy, but in time, you will develop your skills to the point where these types of photos look great.

Avoid Busy Spaces

Neon signs are often found in busy cities. However, if you can find one in a quieter space, it will make for ideal photo shoot subject matter. It will allow you to hone your skills and it will minimize the chances of your photo being ruined by distractions.

Adjust the White Balance

Neon signs typically feature a bright color that can overwhelm your camera. If the white balance is off, the color will be too saturated, and it will look unnatural. You can keep this from happening by adjusting the camera’s white balance.

Shoot in RAW

When it comes to shooting neon signs, RAW images are the way to go. They allow you to preserve more data making for higher quality photos and they make it easier to edit photos which is important considering how vibrant neon signs are. The only downside is that RAW photos take up a lot of space in the camera and they will need to be converted before the editing process begins.

Use Long Exposure for Motion Blur

Long exposure photography will help you get motion blur images that come out looking like streaks of moving light. Shooting long exposure photography requires learning how to get the shutter, aperture and ISO to the right settings. You may also need to use a tripod. It may take some trial and error to learn the proper techniques, but it will pay off with terrific looking photos.

Take Photos at Night

Nighttime is the right time when it comes to getting the neon signs in your images to stand out.

Shoot from a Variety of Angles to Make Your Photos Look More Exciting

You can shoot a neon sign head on, but a variety of angles will help you get terrific shots that are abstract and appealing. Try taking photos from under the sign, from the side of the sign and even above the sign if you can gain access.

Neon signs are tricky subject matter. The tips in this article will help you capture them to their best advantage. What city scenes do you enjoy photographing most?


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