winding light trails – A personal photography exercise

Winding light trails

A streaking light trail down a dark winding road. I challenged myself to execute this shot and it was a good personal photography exercise.

Light waves trails, long exposure, streaks

Light travels a winding road

The Story

I had a short 30 minute window to get out and attempt this shot. Previous weeks had me scout this location with a long exposure in mind. Involving a car’s tail lights winding down the road. I wanted the location to have a few curves with a slight decent. This would ensure the trails didn’t cross over each other and would create an interesting line. In order to get enough “decent” I had to stand on top of my Toyota and set up the tripod as high as possible. I shot about 4-5 cars passing, while fine tuning my exposure time and ISO setting to get just the right balance.

Then a lull… nothing… not a single vehicle for about 5 minutes… Time was against me. I had to get the shot but my family pickup deadline was looming !!

Finally, just as I was accepting I would have to pack her up and maybe try again I saw the lights in the distance of a vehicle coming down the hill. I re-checked my composition, readied on my cheap ebay Chinese shutter release and waiting for the vehicle to approach. I noticed a funny silhouette and realised it was actually a police car!! I figured they were going to stop for sure and question this guy standing on top of his truck, with a camera in the dark-of-night… Oh well, I’ll just explain myself to them and get on my way to pickup my daughter. Well they decided otherwise. They turned their high beams on, and slowly crawled around the corner past me and down through the “capture section” with brake light on the whole way. Probably saying to each other, “what the heck was that guy doing on his truck !”

It turned out perfect for my exposure. Nice slow burn in for the tail lights and the surrounding bush was nicely illuminated from the onboard high beams. Was glad it turned out so well, and I’ll never forget that slow police pass.. perfect.. !


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