Those who do not know what light trails are please read on. Here is the definition from Google. 'Alight trail is a line recorded on film resulting from movement of a point of light (or camera movement) during the exposure.' Light trail is one of the colorful & creative subject that you can capture by setting your camera lens for long exposure shooting along with a very slow shutter speed.
Shooting light trails is one of the most fascinating subject in night photography. Although it is difficult to capture, but the results you get are worth the hard work. If we consider other aspect of night photography, photographing a light trail might seem simple. Those who are aware of this subject know that its just long exposure and slow shutter speed that helps you capture those magical pictures.
1. Requirements: To shoot light trails all you need is a camera and a tripod (or else a stable platform where you can keep your camera). You do not need anything else. Make sure that the camera you use, allows you to set or change exposure settings. Settings like ISO, Aperture and shutter speed. These three are the main settings you need to capture light trails. Your camera should have the ability to shoot in manual and shutter priority mode.
2. Pre-plan : Find a place or a spot where you get to see a lot moving lights created by cars or any other vehicles. Then find a spot from where you get the best view of the traffic (spot a location where you can see traffic on both sides of the road. You may then capture dual color light trails. Red color streaks created by tail / rear light and yellow color streaks created by from lights on the vehicles). And always shoot in Manual mode,
3. Camera settings:
A. ISO : ISO represents the measure of a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. It is measured in numbers like 100, 200, 400, 800 1600 etc. The lower the number the lower the sensitivity. To capture a light trail we need lower sensitivity so your ISO should be set at 100.
B. Aperture : The size of the lens opening that lets light into the camera. In simple term it is the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken. The aperture is measured in f/stops. For a wider depth of field set it somewhere between f16 and f22. And for a narrow depth of field set it to a smaller number.
C. Shutter Speed: You shutter speed largely depends on the above two settings. However, shutter speed between 10 and 20 seconds should work for you.
Note: The settings mentioned above are not ideal for every condition and situation. A lot of it depends on the light and speed of cars in the situation.
Bonus Tip: Either use a remote release or delayed timer on your camera so that you don’t move the camera while the shutter is open.
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