The Big Project Go for a spin

Matt Tuf­fin shows you how to cre­ate an eye-catch­ing light dome ef­fect us­ing an old bike wheel, some Christ­mas lights and a few sim­ple tech­niques

NPhoto - - Nikon Skills -

Light trail images are very sim­ple to cre­ate in a out­door sit­u­a­tion; sim­ply put your cam­era on a tri­pod near a road at night, set it to a long shut­ter speed and wait for a car to drive past. The re­sult­ing im­age will fea­ture lines of light across the frame, of­ten with­out the sub­ject vis­i­ble, show­ing a trail of move­ment.

More and more pho­tog­ra­phers have been us­ing this sim­ple tech­nique to de­velop their own sig­na­ture im­age, and An­drew Whyte came up with a par­tic­u­larly in­no­va­tive way to use light trails. The light dome is made by at­tach­ing some fairy lights to the out­side of a bike wheel, then spin­ning it on the floor. The cir­cu­lar mo­tion com­bined with the light source cre­ates a dome shape when cap­tured us­ing a long shut­ter speed, and the re­sult­ing ef­fect can ei­ther be in­tro­duced into other images or used as the sole fo­cal point.

This isn’t the only method of in­no­vat­ing with light trails, as they can be com­bined with other tech­niques to cre­ate some im­pres­sive end re­sults. For ex­am­ple, you could mix them with rear-cur­tain flash,

Light trails can be com­bined with other tech­niques to cre­ate some im­pres­sive end re­sults… With a small out­lay of cash and a lit­tle pa­tience there’s no end to what you can achieve

which fires the flash at the end of an ex­po­sure rather than in con­junc­tion with the shut­ter re­lease. This merges a stan­dard im­age with a light trail, so you can quickly and eas­ily cre­ate a su­per­hero-style im­age, as on page 61.

Us­ing th­ese ba­sic tech­niques there are many more ways to work light trails into land­scape, por­trait and ac­tion images, giv­ing them a ‘wow’ fac­tor that would be dif­fi­cult to repli­cate in post-pro­duc­tion but that’s sim­ple to cre­ate in-cam­era . With a small out­lay of cash and a lit­tle pa­tience there’s no end to what you can achieve us­ing light trails.

Many thanks to The Bike Work­shop in Bath (www.bath-bike-work­shop.org. uk) for do­nat­ing the wheel and other parts for this tu­to­rial.

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