Every time I’m at Santana Row, I’m drawn to these neon signs. Not only do I love neon and glow of lights at night, but there are three of them, which always excites photographers. Repeating patterns of three or odd numbers just seem to look better.
Some five years ago, I was “accosted” by a security guard at Santana Row. My crime? Using a tripod to make photographs. I even talked about that incident in this blog post “I’m a Professional Because I use a Tripod”. No such problem this time. I was using my Canon G7X Mark II, which looks like a standard point and shoot camera, to the uninitiated.
Technology has come a long way since then. I’m actually pretty happy with the way this picture came out. Neon is notoriously difficult to shoot well. I used to resort to HDR, on tripod, to capture it with some adequacy. With a combination of a proper exposure, advanced post-processing technology, and better dynamic range from a modern sensor, I was able to create this photograph from a single exposure.
The key is to underexpose, which I did by a stop in this case, not to blow out the neon’s color. Then I brought up the shadows in Capture One. I even selectively enhanced the reds for more impact. In-body image stabilization helped too, since I was able to shoot at ISO 125 at 1/6 of a second. Using the lowest ISO allows for more post processing latitude.
Beyond the techno-babble, the bottom line is that I can make pictures like this with a compact camera. Not so long ago, it would have required a high-end mirrorless or DSLR on tripod and HDR blending skills.
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