That's when they turn on all the vintage signs and since both my wife and myself LOVE these signs, we were looking forward to photographing them.
You are not going to get a better exposure or a tighter crop than the picture on the left. It was an amazing sign. The colors came on in impressive waves and, by prefocussing and judging the time exactly, I was able to hit the shutter button when all the lights were on.
It's still not a very interesting picture, is it?
Neon and flashing lights are about...well...neon and flashing. You can't convey that in a photo. You can just capture that one second and hope that is able to give your viewer a taste of what it was like to be there.
Even when the sign itself is interesting, like "Smoking Good Times" you still won't get a great image. It's like taking a picture of a picture, or someone else's artwork to me.
If we are taking pictures as graphic artists, we need to take pictures that show our subject in a new light, and hopefully convey a sense of that subject. Otherwise it's a picture of a picture, neon or not.
I am told that the name of this neon girl is "Vegas Vicki." She is currently working over a "Gentlemen's Club" in Fremont Street.
As I stood there late in the night, I had a sneaking suspicion that my neon sign graphics weren't going to be all that interesting. So I started taking pictures at odd angles, with strange close-ups.
I wanted to take the neon out of this picture so FIRST I copied the original layer and blured it a little. I wanted to take the harshness of the flat neon lines out. Then I added a blur around the outside of the graphic, since I wanted only her face to be featured.
I copied the original again onto it's own layer and worked adding a brush-stroke texture my graphic. Reducing the Opacity on this layer to about 40% allowed me to have a whisper of that texture come through to make the picture have a "painterly" effect.
Finally -- I flattened the layers and took the whole mess to Virtual Painter's Watercolor filter. I use this plug in all the time and it did a great job on de-neoning the whole graphic.