Illuminating Your Shots: A Guide to Neon Light Photography

Vintage meets vanguard. Make neon light photos that stand out.

You can capture futuristic, moody vibes (think Blade Runner) by using cool pro tips.

  • Take into consideration the weather and the environment
  • Use the right settings in your camera like a high ISO setting and a low F-stop.
  • Use light reflectors and LEDs in portraits
  • Neon colors such as electric pink, blue, or green are great to work with
  • The RAW mode can be used for additional editing in posts.

Get a neon glow to capture the vibe.

Any photography with neon lights can be called neon light photography. Neon can be used to light models in many different ways. Or, it can take center stage in street photography. Learn more about neon lights and techniques that will help you get this style.

Neon lighting intrigue is timeless.

From Times Square in New York City to your local diner or vintage bowling alley, neon signs catch your attention. These light sources, first created in 1910 and popularized during the 1930s, and 1940s, contain rarified neon and helium as well as carbon dioxide and other gases in electrified pipes. Their excitement has long been an attraction for videographers, photographers, and other professionals in different fields.

Neon has a deep presence in popular culture. It’s synonymous with the old, and now it’s all back thanks to the nostalgia of television shows such as Stranger Things. It’s a great attraction for photographers, be it in Hollywood, art, fashion, or even art.

Good composition combined with your unique perspective and the appropriate techniques can make neon a moody, mysterious, or energetic tone. Jesse McMinn, photographer: “It has that nostalgia to it because so many neon signs are from in the ’60s/’70s.” Luis Acosta, the photographer says it’s also cool, modern, and futuristic. “It is a trend people are following. The use of neon photography to add light to your photos is very cool. It’s a creative and fun way of shooting at night.

Where street photography meets night photos

Even though neon sign photography can be done in a controlled environment, most neon sign photography takes place out on the streets. Being out in the street is difficult to control, so be prepared to adjust to your surroundings. The dry conditions on the Las Vegas strip are different from the humidity in Hong Kong and London’s Piccadilly Circus.

“Neon is common in Florida shops. There’s less signage. McMinn says that neon lights are costly to replace. Therefore, they are usually located in windows. “The coolest thing about that is you capture neon through the glass. Glass can become dirty and/or condensation, which is why you have this extra filter.

The best time to photograph neon signs is between dusk and dawn since most neon signs are brightly illuminated. Optimize your camera settings for great night photography.

For neon at night, adjust your camera settings

Higher ISO settings will allow you to take better low-light pictures. You can also use slower shutter rates to let more light into your camera for night shots. You should bring a tripod if you want to take crisp photos at night. Slower shutter speeds can create motion blur if the camera doesn’t stay steady.

Manual mode allows you to control your settings better. “The more ISO you put, the more grain there will be in your shots. Acosta explains that it is possible to sacrifice this sometimes. “But you can edit more if your camera is in RAW mode. Low light is easily corrected.

Acosta uses an aperture and a stop as low as f/1.8, so the camera can let in more light.

You can use a shutter speed of 1/60 to photograph darker environments. However, you should not go below 1/15 if your subject moves very slowly or you use tripods. Non-posed photography at night will require you to use a faster shutter speed. Slower shutter speeds permit less light into your camera. It is possible to freeze candid action by using 1/100 or faster. But, this can limit the light that hits the camera sensor.

Photography with neon accents is now possible

The bright neon colors of the neon lights add a distinctive touch to headshots, portraiture, and even headshots. McMinn explains that neons are moodier than normal lighting and have more bodies. Give your social media profile photo a fresh spin or colorize an edited portrait.

Acosta said, “To prepare me for a shoot with neon lights, I’ll know exactly where it is, what time I plan to go with the model and then I will have an idea of what to do and what tools I need.” Even if the neon light is identical, it gives you the freedom to create your own.

Great portraits bring out the personality of the subject. Portrait Lighting can be a key creative storytelling tool for photographers. Neon portraits can be shot with light reflectors. They allow you to direct enough light onto your subject while not making the background too dark. An LED or reflector is a good option to keep your subject well-lit. The bokeh effect blurs the light behind your subject.

The timing of the neon photoshoot.

Portrait photographers enjoy the pre-sunset gold hour. However, the blue hour is great for taking neon photos with a subject. Blue hour happens right after sundown. This is still a low-light environment. However, the blue sky at night can be a perfect backdrop for images using neon lighting.

Acosta states, “You still get some sun in the Blue Hour — isn’t completely dark.” “But it’s not dark enough so you can see neon light. This makes it easy to forget about your camera. You can get a good exposure. If you’re able to do so, I highly recommend it.

Be willing to start simply.

McMinn shares that “lately I’ve reduced myself with gear.” “I go out and try to make it more creative. It helps me improve my photography skills. I move around to discover different angles. I like to see the differences between what I see in my eye and what I capture on camera.

Don’t let the lack of availability of equipment, or even a digital camera, stop you from taking your photos. Many photographers who start out shooting with digital cameras such as Sony, Canon, or Sony started humbly. “I started taking photos with an iPhone. It was great. McMinn says, “I learned composition.” “That’s the best method to learn — hands-on and by making mistakes. Don’t stress about the little stuff, and just keep shooting.

McMinn suggests that people who are serious about photography move to a digital camera as soon as possible. A good digital camera can allow you to shoot in RAW mode. This gives you more image data for editing.

Make neon-filled shots pop by adding some editing.

Learning through trial and error is a great way to learn how to organize and quickly preview your images. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom makes it easy for you to review, organize, or perform mass edits on photos.

Acosta says, “I’ll upload my photos into Lightroom to fix things like shadows or exposure.” “Then I might even change color. For example, if I don’t want purple in there, I take it out.”

Whitebalancing allows you to adjust white objects so that they appear white in your images. White balance can either be adjusted in-camera or fine-tuned in Lightroom after-production. For neon photos that are either cool or warm, you can adjust the white balance.

Lightroom has four sliders that can be used to modify and refine neon colors. Once you’ve found the settings you like, you can save them to a Lightroom preset so you can use them on future photos.

Lightroom allows you to edit photos from anywhere. McMinn says that she prefers to transfer all my photos over to her iPhone 12 with Adobe Lightroom. After editing, they look great. It’s easy for me to edit everything from there for social networks.

You can also amplify your neon photos with other methods.

If you are looking to capture neon photography, imagine a subject in the foreground and signs in the background. Keep everything in focus. Lightroom allows you to merge photos with a different focal points into one image. This creates crisp compositions.

To make beautiful composite images, combine photos with Adobe Photoshop.

Lightroom and Photoshop allow you to make your neon dreams come true with Adobe’s no effect.

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