Creative Long Exposure Light Trails Tutorial

   I've been in a creative mood lately and I've been messing around with different techniques like freelensing for example, which I'm going to be writing about soon. Today though, I wanted to focus on light trails from car lights. Instead of taking the average long exposure shot of car head and tail lights, I changed up my perspective and went INSIDE of the car. I actually was inspired to take this shot based on a photo I took up in the mountains with a friend of mine. I was messing around with a long exposure while he was driving and I came out with a photo I thought was pretty cool. Looking back though, I knew I could do much better. I didn't have my tripod, so I had to hand hold my camera and a tripod is crucial to making this shot work. So a couple of days ago I set out to retake the shot, but this time with urban lights instead of the forest from the original.

   Lessons learned that I'd like to impart onto anyone trying this for the first time, clean your windows, because dirt WILL show up and also set up your tripod before it gets dark. I had planned to shoot the city lights at night and when I went out to the car to set up my tripod in the backseat, it was an enormous pain to hold a flashlight and make sure my tripod was in securely and camera was set up properly in the back of my tiny car. That aside though, I did manage to get everything set up. I had my camera with a wide angle lens, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, pointing directly at the front windshield. If you have an assistant or a friend along then you can have them take the photo for you, unfortunately for me, I was alone when I did this. Since I only had myself, I brought along an intervalometer with me so that I can set it to go off on a timer while I focused on driving and subsequently not crashing.

   I thought it was going well on my test run, but I wasn't paying attention to the battery levels on my intervalometer. By the time I finally got to the city, it ended up dying on me. So that sucked, but I did get some cool shots regardless. I took a bunch and composited them together in photoshop when I got home. I actually made a video tutorial with how to set everything up from the settings on the camera to compositing them to get a pretty awesome "warp speed" looking image. If you're curious on how to do this yourself, I put a link to the video below so that you can view it at your leisure. I'm definitely going to try again with different angles and fresh batteries some other night. I'd love to hear from you guys out there. Have you ever tried something like this or are you now going to go try it? If you have/do then go ahead and leave a link to your photo below and share it with the world... Well at least with the people who read this. =P

~~Writing Light Across The Land~~