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.



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.

2015_07_04_DSC_0420 480 wm

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.