A Night at the Neon Museum on Film

A Note from Janey: Today I’m handing the blogging reins to Patrick. He was so excited about both the opportunity to shoot night photos at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, and with his end products! Enjoy!

As Janey mentioned in her post about our return to the Las Vegas Neon Museum I spent most of the time shooting film on my 70 year old Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic. When we started planning our Idaho I pushed for dates to coincide with the monthly photo walk so I could take the opportunity to shoot film. I’ve been wanting to try more night photography and push the limits of what I could do. I started off the evening by snapping the newly restored Moulin Rouge sign on 4×5 slide film.

Scanned film photograph of a neon sign that reads "Moulin Rouge" in large purple cursive script.

During our previous visit, we were told the Yucca Motel sign was about to be restored, so I knew I wanted to take at least one photo of the newly restored Yucca Motel sign on 4×5 slide film. I love shoot shooting large format slides film since you get a huge transparency to look at the end.

Neon sign reading "yucca" in geeen with a stylized white neon yucca plant on top.

From here I started experimenting a bit. I had some CineStill 800T film, which is modified Kodak’s Vision 3 motion picture film. The modifications remove a layer that is responsible for stopping light from reflecting back onto the rear of the film. Removing this layer allows the film to be processed in regular photographic chemicals but gives light sources (like neon!) a unique glowing look which is referred to as “halation.” You can see this in the neon and bulbs in the Plaza sign.

Cropped close up of a sign with bulbs and a red neon outline.

After this I spent most of the remaining evening trying to finish out the remaining frames of CineStill that I had loaded. I wanted to try to do some multiple exposures which is easy to achieve by simply not advancing the film between shots. I ended up making 2 multiple exposures before the night ended.

Panoramic photo containing 2 neon signs "The Flame" in pink and red neon and "Wedding Information" in white neon.

This final shot is by far my favorite of the night and might be one of my favorite photographs I have every taken. You might recognize the purple neon of the Moulin Rouge sign in this photo, simply turned on their side and combined with the Chief Motel.

Panoramic photo with large swooping pink neon and a neon sign reading Chief Hotel Court.

I wish I could have had more time to get more photos in. Shooting the Graflex is time consuming (see my previous post for an overview) and I wanted to shoot digitally a little bit at the end of the night. Overall I am extremely pleased with the results I got and would definitely do the photo walk event again.

Leave a Comment!