Aug 272013
Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm, A:9, S:15sec, ISO:100

Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 24-105mm, A:9, S:15sec, ISO:100

A lot of my students ask me how I shoot light trails. The above photo is an example of light trails. Well, it’s very simple really. Light trail are basically a subject with some sort of light source that passes by the camera, when the camera is set in low shutter speed. Hence, the camera cannot identify the subject and gives what we call it a light trail look. Passing Cars and headlights are good example of light trail.


Panasonic GF2, A:7, S:2sec, ISO:100

Panasonic GF2, A:7, S:2sec, ISO:100

Now the trick is to get the camera to shoot at very low speed. Therefore your SHUTTER speed needs to be in the lower end, most of the time in Seconds. And to get this low shutter speed, most of the time the shot should be taken during the night.

·         What you need:

–          A camera that has manual control, i.e. you have the control of Shutter and Aperture. And DSLR or Mirrorless should be ok
–          A good steady tripod

·         How to do it:
–          Find a scene where a possible light trail will happen. An easy example would be Cars passing by. Make sure its during the night
–          Connect your camera to the tripod
–          Compose your photo the way how you want the final image to look like
–          Check your ISO settings and make sure it’s not on Auto and it a low value (100-200)
–          Check your White Balance and make sure its in Auto
–          Set your Camera to Aperture Priority mode and bring up the Aperture to high value, anything between 7 to 12 Aperture
–          You will notice your Camera will record a shutter speed automatically. During the night, that shutter speed should be in seconds
–          Set your camera so that it will shoot automatically instead of you pushing the button

That is, you are set. Click and wait as the camera takes the photo.

Hope this Photo Tip was helpful. I appreciate your comments and question. And let me know if you like these tips and whether I should continue giving them.


  4 Responses to “Light Trail Photography”

  1. Hi Salim thanks for the tips..

  2. Thank you for the useful tips , and the photos are amazing

  3. For light trail photgraphy lens focus has to keep in manual mode of auto mode

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