A Classic Arby’s neon sign

The classic Arby’s ® neon sign that many of us grew up with seems to be vanishing from the night landscape of America.

I haven’t seen one of these signs in California in I don’t know how long.

There was one not far from where I spent my wee years.  It was a treat to go to Arby’s and watch your sandwich being created on the slicer.  The root beer came from a tap, and you pumped your own Arby’s sauce.  The things you remember…

Anyway… I found myself on 24th Street in Port Huron, Michigan.  I was on a mission to capture this Arby’s neon sign in all its’ glory – that being during the few seconds that both “roast” and
beef” are illuminated.  For those of you that haven’t seen one of these signs, the lights on the border of the “hat” flicker to give the illusion of motion, and “roast” and “beef” cycle on and off.

But I had a problem.  Someone left their tripod and remote release at home.

But I had a mission.

So, it was time to MacFrog it.  (That was a weak reference to MacGyver that I couldn’t pass up!)

My flannel shirt got folded and crumpled up just right to serve as my tripod on the roof of the car.  I even folded the camera strap and put it under the lens for support.

I set the camera to manual focus, turned off the lens stabilizer, set the camera to ISO 100, turned the flash off, set the shutter speed to 1/5 of a second, and shot away.  And shot away.  An shot away.  I had to time it just right to catch “roast” and “beef” on at the same time.

I managed to get what I wanted on 2 of 19 attempts.  Not a great success rate, but that was one of those nights I gave thanks for digital photography and its’ instant feedback.

A classic Arby's neon sign on 24th Street in Port Huron, MI. December 2015.

A classic Arby’s neon sign on 24th Street in Port Huron, MI. December 2015.

You can check out the current “neon signs and other signs” gallery by clicking here , or just start at Laughing Frog Images.


The Lunar Eclipse

Like millions around the world, I set out to photograph the lunar eclipse Sunday night.

Like some of those millions, there were clouds in the image I envisioned.

Like some of those millions, the “blood moon” portion of the evening’s show was really a view of clouds faintly backlit by the moon.

Nonetheless, out came the “Mother Pod” – that’s my really big, heavy tripod that I picked up about 20 years ago to hold two cameras at once for night railroad photography.

If you saw it, you’d understand why it has its’ name.

Out came the camera and the big lens and the 2X extender and the cable release.

And it all got put together.

And I stared at the clouds with my camera, lens, 2X and cable release in front of me.  And stared…

Finally, the clouds showed some promise of breaking up.  Just a bit.  Well, not really, but enough to shoot between some of them.

So, I started to shoot.

And I remembered how much I like digital even though I still miss Kodachrome.  A SD card just doesn’t smell the same as a roll of Kodachrome, but that’s another story.

And I shot.  And shot.  And shot.  “Film” is free, and I get fairly instant feedback, so why not?

I missed the early part of the lunar eclipse due to the clouds.

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All in, I took about 140 shots between clouds (or so I thought) of the last third of the event in about 40 minutes until the clouds reclaimed the sky.

Most of them looked good on the screen on the back of the camera.  (Who hasn’t been there before?)

And then I downloaded them and looked at them on the screen.

First, let me say that there are clouds out there that you can’t see in front of the moon.  Didn’t know that at the time.

Anyway… I got about a dozen to a dozen and a half “good” images of the lunar eclipse.

Good thing film is “free” these days…

The lunar eclipse images are in the moon gallery on Laughing Frog Images.

Check them out and think about the possibilities for that bad patch on your wall or a gift for someone worthy…


Technical stuff: raw images exposed at ISO 1000, f16, 1/160 or 1/250 second.

The exposures of images 1-3 were equalized using the Light EQ function in ACDSee Pro 8 to bring out the detail in the surface of the moon and to compensate for the uneven lighting. 

Absent this action, the lower part of the moon is washed out from the sun’s light. 


I struggled for a title for this post.

Beam me up.  E.T., phone home.  We’ll leave the light on for you.  I was all over the board with phrases from pop culture.

And then, simplicity hit me.


Sometimes, simple is better.

I suspect that each of you that looks at this image will see something different, and perhaps feel something different.

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Yes, this is in fact light from the moon.

It’s just after 11PM on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  It’s cloudy, but the moon is out there, fighting for a chance to be seen.

And I’m out there with a tripod and cable release seeing what I can make of it.


This isn’t something you see every day.

Apart from the occasional laughter of revelers on the beach, all you could hear were the rolling waves hitting the sand.

I wonder if the revelers saw what I saw?  All I can say is that I wasn’t fighting for space to set up my tripod…

I made over 20 images of varying durations in my attempt to capture the moment.

(Good thing digital film is essentially free!)

You can see pleasure boats far out on the horizon.  How can I say that they were far out?

Well, the exposures ranged from 10 to 60 seconds, and their light trails are not that long.  They were out there…

You can see the moonbeams coming through the clouds much like the rays of the sun poke through on a cloudy, rainy day.

You can see where the cloud layer was thinner or broken – that’s where you can in fact see the clouds back lit by the moon somewhere up there.

The water looks like anything but water.  That’s the result of the long exposures.  It’s probably not how you’d envision the Atlantic Ocean looking.

But after all, it’s getting towards midnight and these are long exposures to capture the moonbeams.

There came a time when it occurred to me that there was no one else out, and that it might be time to head in.

Hoping that the images captured the moonbeams as I saw them, it was time…

So, I packed up, folded up, and picked up and called it a night.

You can find the rest of the moonbeam images here in the moon gallery on Laughing Frog Images.


If you’re so inclined, leave a comment as to which one is your favorite and why.

Technical details: Tripod, cable release, Nikon D7100, Tamron 18-270mm zoom, ISO 800, exposures from 10 to 60 seconds, f8.