Circle Cinema


Circle 2

Circle 3

The Circle Cinema, on an old alignment of Route 66 here in Tulsa, recently had its historic neon sign restored. The letters light up in sequence; I didn’t bother posting the entire series, but you get the idea from these. It’s a beautiful restoration job.

The Gateway Motor Hotel is on the newest alignment of 66 in Tulsa — S.H. 66, which coincides with I-244 and I-44 on the way west out of town. It’s one of several old motels along this stretch. The most spectacular sign — the one at the Western Capri — was torn down for no apparent reason a few weeks ago. Somehow I never got out there to photograph it. I learned my lesson and got a shot of this one tonight, just in case.

I love taking photos of neon signs on cold, clear nights. The air is dry, and the atmospheric conditions are just about perfect for catching the glow of a luminous tube.


4 thoughts on “Circle Cinema”

  1. You’ve probably got the shutter too slow.

    Crank up your ISO as high as it will go and open up your aperture as far as you can. This will allow you to work at a much higher shutter speed. Also, keep in mind that the camera is trying to pick up light. Three things will let light into the camera: fast film (high ISO); an open aperture (low F-stop); and a slow shutter speed. Depending on the lighting conditions and what you’re shooting, you will use any or all of these factors to capture the image.

    If the object you are shooting is nothing more than light itself, your camera will almost certainly pick it up regardless of ISO, aperture, or shutter. The question then becomes how much of that light you want to pick up and what you want to adjust to get there. In that case, run your ISO higher and your aperture lower, but keep your shutter speed as high as possible. You’ll end up with a much sharper photo.

    For instance: The horizontal shot of the Circle Theater marquee was taken at 1600 ISO and 1/640 sec at f/5.0. The Gateway Motor Hotel was at 1600 ISO and 1/500 sec at f/5.0. When you’re good and close to the neon, you can get away with murder on the shutter speed. The verticals at the Circle were shot from a little farther back, so I dropped the shutter down to 1/400 sec.

    I’ll try to do an Ask the Hippie on shooting night neon sometime in the next couple of days and go a little more in-depth on this, with photos to illustrate what I mean.

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