Tech

How are light trails captured?

Light trails are a colourful and creative effect that photographers
can capture by employing long-exposure shooting on their
camera. The basic principle of light trail creation is that by
manually dropping a camera’s shutter speed to a very low level, light
is captured by the sensor over an artificially long period of time, with
every passing vehicle having its lights tracked and recorded over the
visible distance of the road.
To take a shot like this one, find a roadside vantage point in
which no other moving objects are visible other than the passing
vehicles. Second, mount the camera on a tripod, as stability is key
while shooting long-exposure imagery. This is because if there is
any camera shake while the unit’s shutter is open, then the
captured light will lose its direction and smudge across
the entire image. Next select the shutter priority
setting on the DSLR camera and drop the shutter
speed to the desired level – for shots like these,
this means at least a 30-second exposure.
Finally, automatically focus on the scene’s
background and use an external remote
to take the picture. Interestingly, the very
same process is also used in light painting,
a technique where the streaked light is
controlled by the photographer manually,
using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to draw
custom streaks across a dark backdrop and
thereby essentially ‘painting’ in light.

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