Shooting Challenge: Neon Signs

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Neon Signs

Neon signs are like looking at the future through the eyes of the past. They're incredible, often custom cultural artifacts all around us. And for this week's Shooting Challenge, photography an incredible neon sign.


The Challenge

Photograph a neon sign at night (or dusk). Basically, we want it on, not rotting away all depressingly in the sunshine.

The Technique

Truth be told, with modern camera equipment, this challenge is pretty simple. Neon is its own light source, meaning it's the easiest night photograph you could take. Even still, there are a few rules of thumb you'll want to follow, like not making your shutter speed too fast (it'll make the neon spotty). Read this tutorial and this one for aperture/shutter speed info. All of that will shift, depending if you want an isolated image on black or a glowing ambient sign. Both are great approaches. You may just want to bring a tripod and have the flexibility to shoot the sign several ways.

The Example

Our lead image is from donireewalker. I love the character of the sign, the fact that you can see its history of repair (that E and L are fantastic). And given the sign's age, it actually works that the photography isn't perfectly sharp with its subject on an isolated black backdrop. But, you know, don't be afraid to photograph your sign razor-sharp.


The Rules

0. No watermarks. They're so ugly.
1. Submissions need to be your own.
2. Photos must be taken since this contest was announced.
3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.
4. Email submissions to, not me.
5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a native resolution sized shot in email.
6. One submission per person.
7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)
8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.
9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.


Send your best photo by Monday, June 10 at 10AM Eastern to with "Neon" in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameNeon.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameNeonWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions. Include your shooting summary (camera, lens, ISO, etc) in the body of the email along with a story of the shot in a few sentences. And don't skip this story part because it's often the most enjoyable part for us all beyond the shot itself!



Neon! Get yer neon right here!!…