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12-23-2015, 04:08 PM   #1
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Neon lights

Is there a certain white balance setting you use to photograph neon lights? I use auto mostly, but the neon lights I've photographed lately have been a bit blurry.

Thank you!

12-23-2015, 05:41 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Brucie Quote
but the neon lights I've photographed lately have been a bit blurry.
WB is not going to help blurry. That is most likely a slow shutter speed. I use AWB for neon lights and I think the color comes through fine. Shoot in RAW and adjust if need be. But shooting neon at night almost requires a tripod, or at least a very steady hand.
12-23-2015, 05:43 PM   #3
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On the K3, hit the WB button on the left of the multi-controller and select the option that looks like a fluorescent light. It gives you 4 sub-options, depending on colour. I expect other cameras are similar.

However, I doubt this has anything to do with "blurry".
12-23-2015, 09:05 PM   #4
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Overexposed neon can also look "blurry". Every color of neon has a different color temperature which can make a big difference in exposure. Photograph a neon sign with red and green lights and the red can "blur" while the green looks perfect.

12-23-2015, 09:35 PM   #5
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Neon is tough to photograph. Unlike LED lights neon actually has a gas moving through them. The longer the exposure you use the more the effect shows up. I always found the best results after they had been for a long time and the weather was decent. Not too cold or too humid. The glow from the lights really emphasizes atmospheric conditions.
12-24-2015, 06:30 AM   #6
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Thank you all for the comments. On the last photo I took, everything else in the image looked sharp, but the neon light was a bit fuzzy or blurry, and wasn't quite as sharp as the rest of the picture. I will try the fluorescent WB on my K5 and also a faster shutter speed, and see if this helps. Thanks again for your suggestions!
12-24-2015, 07:27 AM   #7
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Experimenting with different techniques is the best way. I have not shot any neon in awhile since everyone has LED's now. This is from 2008 with my K10D and an old manual focus Takumar. Shot on a tripod using a remote. The lights are not the sharp but it is a compromise between that, exposure time, and ISO. Depending on the camera you are using you may find it best to expose for the lights and pull the shadows up. That is what was done here.

12-24-2015, 12:39 PM   #8
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Great advice, and nice photo, Scorpio. Thank you!

12-29-2015, 07:02 AM   #9
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I don't usually change WB much, usually have it set to custom, pretty close to the preset Shade setting, mainly to get a better shot in fog. Then found out it works pretty well all the time but can't tell you exactly what the settings are. I tried several times, tweaking it a bit each shot, till I got fog shots close as I could get to what it really looks like. Left it there by accident and found it works even in full sunlight...who knows...

Anyway I got this one not long ago in town, 50mm lens, usually at f8, ISO200, 1/90 shutter speed.



Not sure if I have any other neon shots, I don't do those often. I usually try to keep the aperture f8 or smaller, for depth of field, and to avoid loss of sharpness at wider settings. That said,m the 50mm still does a nice job at f4 but I rarely use it. For night shots I usually set ISO to get fast enough shutter speed to avoid motion blur, at least 1/60 for the 50mm lens, and tweak ISO until I get good exposure.

My biggest problem here was keeping the street lights from being blown out while still getting a good image of the neon at the theater. So I basically ended up with a little overexposure of the lights and a little underexposure of the neon.

For neon it's usually just trial and error, I do it so rarely I haven't worked out a definite process I can rely on.
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