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Lights Photography


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A Tripod is required. Or put your camera on something steady, like a stone wall. Not a wall that's on a bridge with cars moving. You want zero camera shake. 

Set your camera to the base ISO, typically this is either 100 or 200. 

Set your aperture to f/8 - f/11, depending on lighting conditions. An aperture of f/11 - f/16, or possibly f/22 might be needed, though I would start with f/8. 

Set focus on something midway in the distance and then turn off auto focus. Cameras often will hunt for focus, so you might need a flashlight to help your camera to autofocus.

Set your shutter speed to 30 seconds or use bulb mode if you have it and a shutter release cable. The longer the shutter is open, the greater the effect. (More light is let in.) If you do not have a remote shutter cable, set the camera for a 10 second delay before it triggers the shutter. Play around with shutter speed, try 20 seconds or 10 seconds. Study the differences.

For the best results, hunt for an area that will provide interest. A scene that has a fore-ground, middle-ground, and then back-ground will give you the strongest composition. Don't be afraid to use leading lines or the light streaks could provide this. Play with angles, walk around. Often the best shots that I take are when I'm walking back to my car and see something interesting.

This type of shot is pretty straightforward, once you figure out the recipe. Believe it or not, this type of photography is how you get the silky waterfall shots or even shots of the Milky Way. 

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In your sample photo, it looks like he was at f/16 or f/22. How do I know? Look at the street/ parking lot lights. See the rays from the "starburst?" You get that effect starting with f/16 but f/22 will yield the best results.

For example I took this shot using f/22:

 

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