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.