Vintage meets vanguard – Make your neon lights photos pop!
With cool tips from the pros, capture moody, vintage, and futuristic vibes. (think Blade Runner and Stranger Things).
- Pay attention to the weather and the environment
- Make sure you have the correct settings such as high ISO and low f-stop.
- Use light reflector tools for portraits.
- Neon’s electric blue, pink, and green colors can be used to your advantage
- RAW mode: Additional editing data available in the post
With neon light, you can capture a certain vibe.
All photography using neon lights is considered neon light photography. Neon can either light models in new and interesting ways or be the focus of street photographers. Find out how to create neon light photos, and what techniques you can use to try this bright style.
Neon lighting has a timeless intrigue.
From Times Square’s bright lights in New York City to the vintage diner or bowling alley in your town, neon signs grab attention. These light sources, which were popularized in the 1930s and 1940s by neon signs, were made from rare neon, mercury, helium, and other gases in an electrified tube. This creates an excitement that has long attracted the attention of videographers and photographers working in many different fields.
Neon is a part of popular culture. It can be seen in everything from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which uses neon to illuminate eerie scenes, through to Blade Runner’s techno-noir mystery and neon-soaked world. It’s a symbol of the past, and it’s now back in big thanks to the retro nostalgia exemplified by television series like Stranger Things. Photography can enjoy the nostalgic vibe of neon and its ability to tell stories, no matter if it is in Hollywood or art.
With great composition, a unique perspective, and the right techniques, neon could set a moody tone. It can also create an energetic vibe or an eerie feeling. Jesse McMinn photographer says, “It has a nostalgia to it because many neon signs are from the 60s or ’70s.” Luis Acosta, a photographer, said that “It’s just cool and new, but also futuristic.” It is a growing trend. This is a cool way of bringing light into photos. It’s a fun way to take photos at night.
Street photography meets night photography.
It is possible to photograph neon signs in a professional setting. However, neon photography usually takes place outside where it lives — on the streets. Since you cannot control the street environment, you must adapt to it. The dry climate on the Las Vegas Strip will present different challenges than humid Hong Kong or rainy Piccadilly Circus in London.
“Neon is almost always found in Florida’s shop windows. There is less signage. McMinn states that neon lights are difficult to replace so they’re usually found in windows. “The cool part about that is that neon can be captured through the glass. Glass can be stained, or it may contain condensation. Florida’s humidity makes the glass very dirty. You have this filter built in.
Neon signs can be photographed at night when they are usually brightly lit. Your camera settings should be optimized for night photography.
Setting the camera to show neon at night.
High ISO settings, which adjust your camera’s sensitivity towards light, can help you take low-light photos. Even night shoots may be easier with a slower shutter speed. They let more light into your camera. A tripod can be helpful if you choose to use slow shutter speeds to capture crisp night shots.
Use manual mode when you want to be in control of your settings. “The more ISO that you increase, the more grain your shots will contain,” Acosta explains that you might have to sacrifice some of this. “But, if you are shooting in the RAW mode you can make more edits in the post. Low light can always be compensated for.
Acosta uses a shutter speed of f/1.8 to get the best light through the camera’s aperture.
For darker environments, you could use a shutter speed of up to 1/60. Or even 1/15 if your subject remains still or you use a tripod. For night photography that is not posed, you’ll need to use faster shutter speeds. You will need to use a faster shutter speed for non-posed night photography. Faster speeds let in less light. If you want to freeze candid actions, it is possible to use 1/100 speed or faster. However, be careful about how this might affect the light that hits your camera sensor.
Use neon to enhance portrait photography
You can add the electric pinks, oranges, and greens that neon lights produce to headshots and portraiture. McMinn says that when you shoot neons, the picture has more mood and body than a normally lit one. Be creative and add some color to your editorial photo.
Acosta explains, “To prepare myself for a neon-light shoot, I need to know exactly where the lights are when I want to meet the model, then I need to have an idea of what I want to do and the gadgets that I need.” Even if you don’t use the same neon lighting, you still have room to experiment.
The key to great portraits is putting the subject’s personality out there. portrait light can be an important creative storytelling option for photographers. For neon portraits, light reflectors are the perfect tool. These devices allow you to focus the light on your subjects without too darkening the background. An LED light or reflector can be used to help keep your subject focused and lit. You can also create a bokeh effect that blurs the light source behind your subject.
The timing of your neon photography shoot.
Portrait photographers like the pre-sunset Golden Hour. But, for photos of neon with a model, the blue hours are the best. Blue hour happens right after sundown. Although it’s still darker, the sky is blue at this time and can be used as a backdrop for photographs using neon lighting.
Acosta said that “you still get some sunshine in the blue hours — it’s just not completely dark.” “But it is dark enough that you can still see neon lights. Because of this, your camera doesn’t need to be as concerned. You can get a good exposure. I suggest that you shoot at the right moment.
Do not be afraid of starting small.
McMinn states, “Laterally, I’ve been limited with the gear.” “I go out to try and make it more of an artistic process. It helps me to be a better and more creative photographer. I move about to find other angles, such as a side angle with reflections or condensation. I’m just amazed at how different the effects can be captured on the camera from what I see with my eyes.
But don’t let a lack of gear (or even a camera) stop you. Many photographers who have digital cameras made by Sony, Canon, Sony, and Nikon began their journey humbly. “I first started shooting pictures using an iPhone. And it was very good. McMinn states, “I learned composition.” McMinn said, “That is the best way I learned — hands-on. Don’t fret about the small things, just keep shooting.
McMinn recommends that anyone serious about photography get a camera quickly. A high-quality digital camera can shoot in raw mode, which will allow you to have more image data to use for editing.
Neon-filled shots can be edited to add more color.
Through trial and error, you will find that it is essential to be able to preview your shots quickly and organize them. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a great tool for reviewing, organizing, and performing mass edits to your photos.
Acosta states that she will upload all her photos to Lightroom, and fix shadows, exposure, highlights, and highlight issues. “Then, maybe I’ll even change some color. It’s like, if it doesn’t suit me, I take it out.”
White balance is a setting that can be adjusted to make white objects in your images appear white. The white balance setting can be adjusted on-camera or post-production in Lightroom. White balance can be adjusted to bring neon colors to photos.
Lightroom’s Vibrancy (Hue), Saturation (Luminance), and Saturation (Luminance) sliders can be used to adjust and refine the color of neon shots. Once you have found settings that you love, you may save them as a Lightroom preset to be used on other photos in your shoot or for future shots.
Lightroom can also help you edit your photos on the go. McMinn states that she transfers all photos to her iPhone using Adobe Lightroom. Then, she edits them on iPhone 12, which is a great tool. “It is easy to edit all of it for social media.”
Other ways to amplify your neon photos
Consider capturing neon photography with a subject at the front and neon signs behind it. While keeping everything in focus, this is how you would do it. Lightroom can be used by you to focus stack images (combine different focal points into one single image) to create crisp compositions.
You can take it further by combining photos in Adobe Photoshop to create spectacular composite images that include neon lights.
Lightroom and Photoshop are available to help you bring your neon dreams alive with Adobe’s nude effect.