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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Light trails

There are amazing things that can be done using your camera’s slow shutter speed properly; one of them is taking pictures of car light trails. What you need is pretty basic: camera, lens, tripod, maybe a graduate filter and a remote control to release your shutter when you are in “bulb” mode, or at least you need it if you own a Nikon. I like these images especially when is not 100% dark, in fact at twilight you get the best colour of the sky, far from being black it turns into an amazing blue. Put your camera on the tripod and secure it properly, compose your scene. Take an exposure reading of the ambient light; let not the car’s lights fool your meter into underexposing the scene. The light will be burned anyway, and that’s what it is, just light that will decorate your scene.

If you need to balance the sky use a grad filter but I don’t think you will need it unless you have a strong backlit image with the sun too high. Now, I assume that if you are like me you are in manual exposure; if not maybe you should try. A (aperture) is ok too, but you will need to compensate the exposure through the exposure compensation button, hence in manual will probably be faster. If your shutter speed is within the 30 you will probably be able to use the self timer to trigger the camera, but if you have very little light and need to go over 30” you will need to put your shutter speed to “bulb” and then you will only be able to take the shot using the remote control (no worries, is not an expensive gimmick).

When everything is set, with your ISO as low as you can, the lens clean to reduce the problems with flare, and the tripod well set you start shooting, Most of the times is a trial and error business, until you find the right light and the right “traffic” to get the image you need.

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