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
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.