Photographing Light Trails
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Photographing Light Trails In The Car - Get in your car (make sure someone else is driving) and shoot some light trails.
Before you set off make sure the inside and outside of the windscreen is very clean because smears can ruin your final image. For the same reason you may want to avoid rainy evenings unless you want smeary colours and your wipers going.
Set-UpYou need to fix the camera, with a wide-angle lens on a tripod into the passenger seat well or back seat of the car. Whatever you do, make sure the tripod is fixed securely before setting off. This is not to stop vibration - which is inevitable - but to stop the camera smashing itself as the tripod topples over as you drive along. You can use a full-sized tripod but something like a Gorillapod is also worth considering. You can even use a beanbag if your car has a sizeable parcel shelf. Whichever approach you take is obviously down to the car itself as well as the sort of shots you want to take.
For example, you can have the camera positioned so you can see all of the windscreen through the viewfinder and don't worry if you get too much of the roof or dashboard in as you can crop these out later, but it is good to give the light trails something to contrast against.
Focus on the distance - you want the lights sharp ideally. Check the composition and set an aperture that will give you a good depth-of-field to render the dashboard as sharp as possible as well as allow a lengthy shutter speed. ISO100 is best and will give a slow shutter speed that will give you a 10-30 second exposure to capture the light trails perfectly.
Focus, Composition And Exposure
You will have to do some tests to see what suits the lighting conditions and the effect you are after. In a brightly lit town soon after sunset, a 20 second exposure is fine but you might need much longer exposure on a dark dual carriageway. Use a remote trigger, cable release or self-timer to fire the shutter. If you want to use long shutter speeds, use the B setting and, ideally you will have a release that will let you hold the shutter open.