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Neon Light Photography: Tips for Shooting Neon Pictures

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Sep 13, 2021• Proven solutions

Though neon signs and lights have been around for quite some time now, the trend of neon colors in photography is still somewhat recent. Owing to the internet's obsession over the pops of bright colors, the neon aesthetic has become a personal favorite of many. You can see the cool neon signs giving off those classic retro vibes everywhere.

As an aspiring photographer, one might find oneself in a dilemma when exploring a new medium in the field, and neon themes, in particular, require plenty of expertise. Shooting in dim lights with an overly exposed epicenter is not an easy job. If you find yourself at the heart of this mess, here are a few techniques that will come in handy the next time you shoot neon pictures.

Part 1: Tips to Help You Make Creative Neon Pictures

The trademark of neon pictures is the vibrant colors that fill up the entire canvas and capture the viewer's eye. Since the lighting in neon photography is different and dimmer than normal photos, here are some tips to guide you through the whole process.

1. Adjust the Aperture

Usually, neon pictures are taken in low light, meaning that you will need to capture as much light as you can. Here is when aperture comes in handy. Using a large aperture can significantly help create unique photos in low light, as is the case with neon photography.

adjust the aperture

Reducing your focal length can, however, result in a blurred composition. But it would help if you did not worry about that, as it is precisely what you need when playing with neon lights. You can go with f/2.8 if you want the background to be blurred entirely, or you can use around f/4 for a slightly discrete background.

2. Increase the ISO

Shooting pictures in the dark also means adjusting your ISO settings accordingly. Typically, neon pictures are shot in a high ISO value, which enables your camera to capture more light and brighten up the image. You can try different values to see which works best for you.

increase the iso

Increasing the ISO can increase the noise in the image, but it is nothing to be afraid of. You can get rid of the noise by adjusting the exposure. If that doesn't work, you can remove it manually, which doesn't take more than a few seconds. Using a larger ISO will help you sharpen your image too.

3. RAW is a Friend

When shooting neon pictures, remember to shoot in RAW format. This will enable you to capture high-quality images in lesser storage space, and editing will also be much easier. RAW formats always come in handy when image quality is to be retained.

raw is a friend

4. Switch Focus to Manual

Shooting in low light means that your camera won't always be there to find the right subject. Focusing can be a real nuisance when shooting neon pictures, and quite often, you will concentrate on the wrong subject. To avoid that, give up autofocus and shift to manual. This way, you can handle what stays in focus and what goes out of the light.

switch focus to manual

5. Play with Temperature

The cool neon signs are fun to play with until your image gets overwhelmed by a single color. When that happens, and it happens often, try adjusting the temperature and white balance in your device so you can tone down the colors.

play with temperature

For example, if a red neon aesthetic dominates your image, you can turn down the temperature to add a cool tone to it. Remember that neon style is all about vibrant and vivid colors, so don't make the tones too neutral.

6. Try Multiple Angels

This is a technique that will come in handy even when you are no longer shooting neon pictures. Remember to keep changing your angels and try to view things from a different perspective. Experiment and create a unique aesthetic that can catch the viewer's attention.

try multiple angles

7. Add in Subjects

If you are using a neon background in your pictures, it can appear bland. You can try adding in a central subject and experiment with that. Introduce models to light up your neon-themed images. Try to divert the attention to your central focal point and fill in all the neon colors and vibrancy around it. This will make your image stand out.

add in subjects

8. Avoid Blurs

A blurred image taken in low light doesn't really tick off as impactful or appealing. When taking neon pictures, you can blur the backgrounds but blurring the focal point will give off an overall passive vibe. So, avoid blurs in your images.

avoid blurs

You can increase the ISO and manually focus on the subject as mentioned above to sharpen your image. You should also use a sharp lens such as a 50mm f/1.4 to reduce motion blurs. Adding timers and using a tripod when necessary to stabilize your camera can also help get the perfect shot.

9. Reflections Come in Handy

A great tip for taking neon pictures is to use every reflective surface you can get your hands on. Try adding glasses if you are using a model to reflect off the neon lights. You can also use windows for reflection or even the reflective surfaces of your smartphones to shine that light as much as you can.

reflections come in handy

If it is a rainy day, embrace it. Use the water puddles to reflect off the lights and brighten up your image. You can also choose to carry a water bottle with you to create your own puddles wherever you want.

10. Keep an Eye on Shadows

Shadows can be the make or break of your images. When shooting neon pictures, it is important to keep an eye on shadows. Some photographers use flashguns to include a little light in the image. Colored gels can also be used to get the neon effect in your pictures. You might want to remove looming shadows in your pictures other times, as they can make your entire image come off as low-quality.

keep an eye on shadows

Part 2: Idea for Creating Neon Light Style Videos

Moving on from pictures, if you are looking to incorporate neon themes and neon light styles in your videos, we've got you covered. Wondershare Filmstock is a great stock and resource tool which contains numerous video templates to suit your various needs.

Watch the video about how to use 'Busy Busy Pack' to create neon-style videos.

Below are some of the video template packs offered by Filmstock that are neon-themed.

1. Neon Zone Pack

The Neon Zone Pack offered by Filmstock is the perfect resource pack for making neon-style videos. The pack contains 25 different elements that can be included in videos that revolve around various themes, be it dancing, partying, or anything featuring a neon background.

2. Busy-Busy Pack

The Busy-Busy Pack is the ultimate video template set specifically designed for a night stroll across the city. The vibrant themes make it perfect for a neon theme to be used in dim lights. The template includes 7 titles, 26 elements, 3 overlays, and 1 transition. It really is the perfect fit for your neon aesthetics.

3. Dance Pack Volume 1

This witty and fun video template is packed with cool neon signs which are meant for motion tracking. You can now add the neon effect to your dance videos using the Dance Pack Vol. 1 by Filmstock, which contains 45 elements and 6 titles, allowing 2 overlays and transitions. It really is a fun way to liven up your dance and motion videos.

4. Neon Elements Pack

The Neon Elements Pack is the impeccable way to add vibrant elements as part of your neon wallpaper. The set contains 25 different elements, which can be utilized to give you multiple neon-themed elements all at once. The icons are really upbeat and vivid, adding the splash of color in your video that you are looking for.

Conclusion

Shooting in some new and unfamiliar medium is always a nag at the beginning. But whenever you try something new, remember that consistency is key. Practicing regularly can help polish your skills and take you from mediocre to the expert level in a small time frame.

Work on your photography skills and try the techniques mentioned above to create the perfect neon pictures. You can try these tricks at home and see for yourself the wonders that they bring about. Don't forget to head over to Filmstock to check out some of the best video effects to get those neon aesthetics.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How do you make neon lights in pictures?

You can easily add neon lights and glows to your pictures using some basic editing tools available in Photoshop or some other apps. Neon lights are an interesting medium to work with that adds pops of colors to your photos.

  • How can I edit neon signs in a photo?

To edit neon signs in a photo, open the image in any editing app such as Photoshop or Lightroom, then adjust the various aspects of your image, such as lighting and aperture, to suit your need. Oftentimes, you might have to adjust the contrast and temperature of the photo. Slide around until you get the desired results.

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Max Wales
Max Wales is a writer and a lover of all things video.