08 Traf­fic lights

Go slow on the road­side

Digital Camera World - - 10 THINGS ... TO TRY RIGHT NOW -

Win­ter nights can seem bor­ing for the keen pho­tog­ra­pher, but here’s a great tech­nique to try all year round. Use a long ex­po­sure to get cool traf­fic trail ef­fects when cars drive by. It’s one of those tech­niques that is very hard to get on a smart­phone and a pain to repli­cate in soft­ware, so it will mark you out as a skilled pho­tog­ra­pher.

Ac­tu­ally, traf­fic trails are not that hard to take, but you do need to pre­pare care­fully. First, find a suit­able (but safe) lo­ca­tion. Try stand­ing by a busy junc­tion con­trolled by traf­fic lights, or a slip road or a round­about, where you’ll get ve­hi­cles com­ing past at dif­fer­ent speeds. Cap­tur­ing ve­hi­cles when they are turn­ing can cre­ate in­ter­est­ing ef­fects too. You’re us­ing a slow shut­ter speed, so you need a tri­pod and cable re­lease to keep the back­ground sharp.

Get started to­day

* Set your shut­ter speed ac­cord­ing to the speed of the traf­fic. Try 10 seconds as a start­ing point. Shoot in Man­ual so you can ad­just the shut­ter speed and aper­ture in­de­pen­dently, check­ing the his­togram for each ex­po­sure. Use a nar­row aper­ture to get star­burst ef­fects on street lights and in­crease depth of field for sharp­ness. * It’s best to fo­cus man­u­ally, be­cause aut­o­fo­cus will strug­gle in low light and get dis­tracted. Fo­cus care­fully on some­thing sig­nif­i­cant in the back­ground; zoom in with Live View if nec­es­sary to check the fo­cus. * Keep the ISO low to re­duce noise, and turn on long-ex­po­sure noise re­duc­tion.

Chris Rut­ter

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