Neon lights, shimmering neon lights...

Gwendal

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Jun 6, 2010
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So... stumbled into this art installation based on sentences written out in neon. As one can see, the photograph I've taken does not work, and the text comes out impossible to read - hence my question : how do you get a better result ? Are there specific tricks ?
Also another question : has anyone experience with using a neon tube as lighting equipment, for example for portraits ?



Any help much appreciated !
 

BBW

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Gwendel, this is very interesting challenge. I'm glad you've posted about it in here and look forward to the answers and help you get. I can easily see that this could have been a very good image...of course I'd love to know what the writing said, too.:wink:
 

Jonas B

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So... stumbled into this art installation based on sentences written out in neon.
(...) Are there specific tricks ?
Also another question : has anyone experience with using a neon tube as lighting equipment, for example for portraits ?
Any help much appreciated !
Hi,

Neon light is very bright, or even extremely bright - as we can see in your image...
You have to expose a lot less and by doing so there will be nothing seen but neon tubes. So, the dynamic range o our sensors are exceeded, by a whole lot. There is no film or other sensor handling this range either, btw.

What to do? If the image is important to you the only way to make it is to revisit the place and bring a tripod. Then take several images at different exposure values. Doing so you'll run into the next problem with tube light, it flickers.

Flickering light causes banding if the exposure time gets too short and thus we have to stop down the lens rather than shorten the exposure time. You can do some experimenting at place and you'll probably find that it is safest to stay around 1/10-1/20 second, or longer of course. Ouch... stopping down too much is never recommended and in the worst case you'll have to use a neutral grey filter.

Then mix your images per taste when processing them to get a final image with some light showing the place and the text in neon very bright but still possible to read.

All the above assuming the motif is in a sort of room. If outdoor the best result is usually from images taken at dawn or dusk where you can get a good natural balance between the different light sources.

my cents,

Jonas
 

Jonas B

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OK Gwendal, I guess that didn't help...
For your second question, I can post this one just for fun:

Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

©Jonas B, 2009. Mixed light, incl tubes and neon. Perhaps not very flattering.

In general I try to avoid to to take images of people in neon light, or other sorts of tube light. When I do I usually convert the image to B%W, or make sure there is some environment included "explaining" the weird colors. That helps making the image not looking just weird and instead sometimes benefit from the effect.

Maybe somebody else jumps in.

regards,

Jonas
 

cosinaphile

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try taking a few exposures , one that will allow some post proc to ensure the stone looks good but also with enough info on the neon where a burn and dodge tool can make both extremes visable
 

Gwendal

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Hi - actually yes, it looks helpful - didn't immediately reply because I need to wait for the week-end to go back and try it, but I sure will ! thanks !
 

Gwendal

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Jun 6, 2010
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300
After a few more attempts... the HDR way (Jonas) gave the best results, though because of the setting I could not use my small tripod. Some of the attemps below, the "heavy HDR" being just for fun. Also tried the burn and dodge, but did not get satisfactory results.



(version without HDR)



(Lots of HDR)



(Reasonable HDR but clearly needs a tripod and more work)

Anyway, a fun exercise and great tips !
 

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