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Thread: First attempt at car lights

  1. #1
    gredawarha's Avatar
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    Darren

    First attempt at car lights

    Evening all

    A couple of months back I had the oppportunity to go out to a nearby spot and spend an hour sat by a motorway. Doesn't sound like fun but I wanted to try getting a car light streaming shot. I used my D3100 and my 35mm 1.8 set up on a tripod. I think in hindsite I would wait until deeper into winter so I can get a darker sky and at the same time more traffic.

    I would appreciate your comments and criticism.

    Darrren

    [IMG]First attempt at car lights Looking North by Darren Joseph Gregory, on Flickr[/IMG]
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 24th November 2012 at 10:37 PM.

  2. #2
    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at car lights

    Hi Darren, not sure what's happened here as the majority seems a bit OOF, particulary noticeable at the junction direction sign. I do like the sky and if darker could give the image to much dark area, possibly. Can you post the Exif ?

  3. #3
    gredawarha's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at car lights

    Hi Grahame

    You are probably right about the focus as I set the shot up but then changed my mind later but at that point it was much darker making focus difficult. This is definetly a shot that I wnat to do. Like most things in life I learnt a lot by making mistakes.

    The exif should all be in the flickr file link.

  4. #4
    Andrew76's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at car lights

    Great first attempt. Here are a few points you may, or may not like to try. In my experience, for a shot like this, f8 is a little shallow, which may be why it's blurry. Why not boost that up considerably, then you can slow down the shutter a little too.

    Secondly, you've captured the lights well, and you should be happy with that, as I assume that was your underlying mission for this shot, what to work on next? Composition. For me, there's really not much to the rest of the image, you have great potential for 'leading lines', but you didn't take advantage of them, and there's really not anything else in the image that catches your eye.

    Just my thoughts, of course. I have been wanting to try a shot like this for quite some time now, but I really only have a couple areas in town that would make a decent all around shot, and traffic isn't too high there, so I'm having some difficulty.

    Hope that helps you out a little?

  5. #5

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    Re: First attempt at car lights

    Hi Darren,

    Car headlights will cut through just about any aperture - so normally you'll probably want to be stopped down more for DoF and length of exposure considerations. Keep in mind too that because the lights are moving, they don't "build up" an exposure over time (in other words they're independent of shutterspeed) - however - having just said that, they WILL build up where the light trails from successive cars cross - and - the length of the exposure of course determines the number of cars that pass through the scene.

    As a rule, I try to avoid getting too many vehicles passing through as in the end all you'll end up with is a solid white and a solid red line - both with fuzzy edges - passing through the scene.

    So - I'd suggest planning the shot so that the light trails lead your eye through the scene - and experiment with the right exposure to capture a nice background. And be prepared to push the image quite hard in post processing.

    Here's a couple I did recently ...

    First attempt at car lights

    First attempt at car lights

  6. #6
    pnodrog's Avatar
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    Re: First attempt at car lights

    Not sure that focus is the culprit for the softness, it may be movement. For long exposures on a tripod you need to be absolutely certain it is on a solid surface that is immune to traffic vibration. Be wary of any grass or soft soil the tripod legs are standing on and shelter from the wind if possible. Contra to what many would advise I sometimes rest my hand on the camera as I take the shot. Even though I have heavy tripod in windy places, on springy ground or standing in a shallow stream the downward hand pressure seems to be effective in adding extra stability. For very long exposures ( beyond my stop breathing limit) hanging a load from the tripod like a camera bag can help provided it is not free to swing.

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