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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Photographing neon lights at night

    When photographing neon lights (for example red lights) at night I got wrong colors (yellow) on my photos. I usually shoot in the aperture priority mode.
    But if I use exposure compensation (-2 for ex) I can get correct colors, but everything else is too dark.
    So I decided this is an issue with the dynamic range of the camera.
    Is there any way to get correct colors of night scenes with neon lights using digital cameras (like Nikon D700)?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Photographing neon lights at night-_dsc1451_resized.jpg  
    Used gear: Nikon D700, PanoEdit (www.panoedit.com)

  2. #2
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing neon lights at night

    There are several problems with shooting neon lights at dark.

    1. They might look red to your eyes but in fact they are a mix of colours and your camera has difficulty in figuring out the right colour balance. Try setting the colour balance manually until you find one that looks right

    2. The neon light is both the subject and the source of light for the rest of the image. This is not a typical image - the camera thinks that the light source is white and tries to expose for the rest of the image.

    To get the picture you want you will have to take control. Several possibilities:

    a. HDR. Put the camera on a tripod, do two images, one exposed for the neon and one exposed for the rest of the image then merge them together with HDR software on your computer
    b. Shoot RAW, expose for the neon and in Lightroom or whatever use Fill light to bring back the rest of the image. The D700 has good dynamic range and it may come out OK
    c. Use the D-lighting feature in the camera set to maximum. This works the same way as solution b)

    I always shoot RAW but for this sort of atypical subject I think it's a must.
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  3. #3
    Junior Member
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    Re: Photographing neon lights at night

    Thank you, Franglais!

    I am sure that the problem is not in the white balance settings (I tried different settings). I will try to take photos in RAW and play with the D-lighting option.
    Used gear: Nikon D700, PanoEdit (www.panoedit.com)

  4. #4
    Be serious Franglais's Avatar
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    Re: Photographing neon lights at night

    Experiment with D-lighting and RAW seperately at first.

    I think that D-lighting only works on the JPG image. It reduces the exposure by about a stop to preserve the highlights then lightens the mid-tones.

    If you shoot RAW then D-lighting will reduce the exposure but Lightroom won't do the lightening part automatically. The RAW image looks dark. You have to bring up the mid-tones yourself.
    Charles

    Nikon D800, D7200, Sony RX100m3
    Not buying any more gear this year. I hope

  5. #5
    Senior Member freygr's Avatar
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    Portland, OR, USA
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    Re: Photographing neon lights at night

    Also you should be taking advantage of the camera's RAW mode. If you are on a tripod you can auto bracket -/+ and use HDR to get the exposure of the lights correct.
    GRF

    Panorama Madness:

    Nikon D800, 50mm F1.4D AF, 16-35mm, 28-200mm & 70-300mm

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