Neon light photography
Vanguard meets vintage: Neon light photos that make a statement.
Cool pro tips to capture moody, futuristic, or vintage vibes (think Blade Runner or Stranger Things).
- Be flexible to changing weather and environmental conditions
- You need to find the best settings for your camera, such as a high ISO or a low aperture.
- Portraits can be made using LEDs and reflector tools.
- Use neon’s electric pink, green, and blue colors
- RAW mode is used to capture additional editing data for post-production.
Neon light can create a mood.
Any type of photography featuring neon lights is called neon light photography. Neon lights can be used to illuminate models in a variety of interesting ways, or as the main subject of street photography. Find out more about neon lighting photos and learn how to make them look great.
Neon lighting is a timeless intrigue.
From Times Square in New York City’s bright lights to the diner or vintage bowling alley in your locality, neon signs draw attention. These light sources were invented in 1910 and became popularized in the 1930s/40s. They are made from rarified neon, hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and other gases that have been electrified. The effect creates excitement that has been a long-standing fascination for videographers as well as photographers from many other fields.
Neon is a ubiquitous element of popular culture. From Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo where neon lights up eerie scenes to the techno-noir mystery that surrounds Blade Runner’s neon-soaked universe, to Blade Runner’s futuristic, tech-noir world, neon has been omnipresent. The retro nostalgia of popular TV shows like Stranger Things has made neon synonymous with the past. Photographers can find inspiration in neon, whether it’s Hollywood, fashion, or art.
With good composition and your unique perspective, neon can create a moody, energetic, or eerie atmosphere. Jesse McMinn, the photographer, says that neon lights are nostalgic because they were used in the ’60s and ’70s. Luis Acosta, the photographer, says that it is also “cool, modern, and futuristic.” It’s a popular trend. It’s a great way to add light to photos with neon photography. This is a great way to capture night shots.
Night photography meets street photography.
Although neon sign photography is possible in a studio, it usually takes place on the streets. You can’t control what the environment is like when you are shooting on the streets. Be ready to adjust to it. The dry conditions of the Las Vegas strip will present different challenges to photographers than those in Hong Kong, London, or Piccadilly Circus.
“Neon is a common sight in Florida’s shop windows. You will find a lot less signage. McMinn says neon lights can be expensive to replace so they are often found in windows. The cool thing about that is you can capture neon through the glass. Glass can get dirty or condensation from Florida’s humid climate. This extra filter is available to help you.
When neon signs are most brightly lit, photography is best done from dusk to dawn. You should optimize your settings for good night photography.
Nighttime neon camera settings
You can get better low-light shots by setting your ISO higher. This adjusts the camera’s sensitivity in light conditions. Night shoots can be made easier by slower shutter speeds. This allows more light to enter your camera. To capture sharp shots at night, use slower shutter speeds. If the shutter speed is not fast enough, motion blur can occur.
To have more control over your settings, shoot in manual mode. The more ISO you set, the more grain will be in your photos. Acosta says that sometimes you have to sacrifice this. You can always edit more in posts if you shoot in RAW mode. Low light can be compensated for.
Acosta uses a stop-off as low as f/1.8 to allow the camera to let in as much light as possible.
You can use a shutter speed as low as 1/60 for darker environments. If your subject is still or you are using a tripod, you can even use 1/15. For non-posed night photography, you will need to use a faster shutter speed. For non-posed night photography, slower shutter speeds let less light in. You might want to freeze candid action at 1/100 or higher, but you should be aware of the limitations that this may have on light reaching your sensor.
Portrait photography can be made more colorful with neon colors
You can add the neon colors of electric pinks, blues and greens to your headshots and portraiture. McMinn states that a neon shot is more moody and lifelike than a normal photo. You can be creative with your social media profile photos or an editorial portrait.
Acosta states, “To prepare for the neon light shoot, you need to know where the light is and when it will be there. Then, I can plan what I want to do and what gadgets I will use.” These factors allow you to be creative even if you use the same neon lamp.
A great portrait shows the subject’s personality. Portrait lighting can be a powerful creative storytelling tool for photographers. If you are looking to create neon portraits, light reflectors can be a great tool. These reflectors allow you to direct sufficient light onto your subject without making your background too dark. To keep your subject well-lit and in focus, you can use an LED or reflector light. This creates a blurred effect that blurs the light sources behind it.
Timing of your neon photoshoot.
Portrait photographers love the pre-sunset gold hour but the best time to take neon photos is the blue hour with a model. Blue hour happens right after sundown. It’s still dark, but the blue sky can make it a great backdrop for photos with neon lighting.
Acosta states that you still get sunlight during the blue hour, but it is not dark completely. It’s dark enough to see neon lights. You don’t need to worry as much about your camera. You can get good exposure. If you have the opportunity to capture that moment, I recommend it.
Do not be afraid to start small.
McMinn says, “Laterally I’ve restricted myself with the equipment.” I go out and try to make it more creative. It makes me a better photographer. I move to find new angles. It’s amazing to see the different effects that I can capture with my camera compared to what I see with an eye.
Don’t let a lack of gear or a camera stop you from taking great pictures. Many photographers who use digital cameras from Sony, Canon, Sony, or Nikon started humbly. “I began shooting photos with an iPhone. It was great. McMinn said, “I learned composition.” McMinn says that hands-on learning is the best way to learn, and it’s also the most fun. Do not worry about the little things and just keep shooting.
McMinn advises anyone serious about photography to get a camera as soon as possible. A digital camera that is good will let you shoot in Raw mode. This will give you more data to edit your photos.
To give neon-filled photos more pop, edit them.
It’s important to be able quickly to preview and organize your photos as you learn by trial and error. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom makes it easy to review, organize, and perform mass edits of your photos.
Acosta states, “I will upload all my photos to Lightroom and fix any shadows, exposure, and highlights.” “Then, I might even change some colors. If I don’t like the purple, I can just take it out.”
White balance can be set to make white objects appear white in images. White balance can be adjusted in the camera, or in Lightroom post-production. To add cool or warm hues to your neon photos, adjust the white balance.
To tweak the color of your neon photos, you can use the Lightroom Vibrancy, Hue, and Saturation sliders. You can save settings that you like to a Lightroom preset for future use or photos.
Lightroom can also be used to edit photos while on the move with Lightroom. McMinn says, “I transfer everything to my iPhone with Adobe Lightroom and then edit on iPhone 12 and they’re great.” It’s very easy to edit everything there for social media.
There are other ways to amplify your neon photos.
Imagine that you want to take neon photography and have a subject in front of the camera, with neon signs in the background. All while keeping the focus on the subject. Lightroom can be used to combine photos from different focal points to create crisp compositions.
You can also combine photos in Adobe Photoshop to create stunning composite images with neon lights.
Take some photos that you love and get out there with Lightroom and Photoshop. Adobe’s Neon Effect will bring your neon dreams to reality.