PHOTOGRAPHING CAR LIGHT TRAILS

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When you are driving at night as a passenger on the highways all the different lights looks mesmerising if you really focus on it. If you are in the passenger seat with a lot of patience then you can capture the movement of the lights in relation to the car. This makes some dramatic photographs, even if the car you are in is travelling at a speed of 120 kilometres an hour. This section focuses on how to photograph light trails in a moving vehicle.

Note: DO NOT try this when you are driving yourself, but rather only do it when you are in the passenger seat of the vehicle

The following steps provide you with guidelines how to photograph the light trails from street lamps and other vehicles in a moving vehicle.

Step 1: Getting started – take your camera with, and get a patient driver to be your chauffeur for the drive at night on the highway.

Step 2: Make sure you have a fully charged battery as long exposure photographs uses a lot of battery power.

Step 3: Place your camera on the vehicles dashboard, without it being a visual obstruction to the driver

Step 4: Start driving

Step 5: Ive put my lens on auto focus, as there were a lot of lights onto which the camera can focus on. But if you find that your camera doesn’t wat to focus, then put in in manual focus mode and turn your focus ring until the image is crystal clear and in focus

Step 6: Take a test shot. Ensure that the photograph is in focus, and that the photograph is not over or under exposed.

Step 7: Take the photograph. Take as many as possible, as this will increase your chances of obtaining a brilliant photograph.

Step 8: Download the photographs, and enjoy it 

Settings

White Balance:  Change the white balance to Tungsten. Tungsten will compensate for the yellowish light being produced by the streetlights, and other types of lights on the highway.

Aperture: I would recommend setting your lens to the maximum aperture it can go to e.g. f/2.8 so that the maximum amount of detail captured by your camera.

Shutter speed: 2 seconds. I’ve used a slow shitter speed of 2 seconds to create a nice balance between the moving vehicle, oncoming streetlights and other moving vehicles. Due to your fast moving vehicle, the camera will capture long light trails.

ISO: Set the ISO to 100. The low ISO will assist you to capture as much as possible detail.

Focal length: Set your lens to 18mm to capture as much as possible of the scene in front of the vehicle,

Metering Mode: Centre Weighted Average

Exposure Compensation: Set your exposure compensation to -2.5 to compensate for the over exposure.

I have set the exposure compensation as well very dark, because the streetlights produces a lot of light, and it is easy for your camera to over expose the picture. Another way to compensate if your photograph is over exposed is to increase your ISO, so that there is less light captured onto the sensor, or change your aperture to a higher setting.t

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