Shooting At The Speed of Light

Half way during our long drive home from the seashore road trip, I became restless. It was late at night and the only things to keep me entertain were the city lights and the lights from the speeding traffic. I don’t particularly like nighttime driving because that’s when most of the maniac drivers come out. As I was commenting to Jean Yves about the crazy drivers, a semi-truck with lights on its wheels and trailer went speeding by us — way too close for my comfort — and we were already driving at 70 miles (112 km) an hour. However, instead of cursing at the crazy truck driver… a bright idea came to my mind. The stream of lights the truck created at high-speed gave me the idea of shooting the lights on the freeway and the opportunity to play with the shutter speed.

At first I tried to hold the camera, as still as possible but with all the bumps on the road; it was pointless. Instead, I move the camera in different directions and perspective during theย long exposureย time. Since it was dark, the bug guts on the windshield didn’t show and I was able to shoot without having to stick my head out of the window. It was a fun and interesting experiment. I really like the painterly and free style of the lights in these images. Needless to say, the rest of the drive home was a blur for me. ๐Ÿ˜€

I used these settings for the shots: f/22, ISO 200, WB sunny, between 6 to 20 seconds. Click on the image to see a larger version. The light effect looks better.


28 Comments on “Shooting At The Speed of Light

  1. Hi again–looking deeper into your site, these really caught my interest. I’ve realized lately that I’ve been lax in the abstract branch and need to rectify that. Your shots here are inspiring, and I can’t wait to try some too next time we get onto a fast road after dark. Great idea, well executed!

    • Your comment puts a big smile on my face. I appreciate you taking the time to explore my blog and find my work inspiring. It’s always fun and challenging to see how far I can push the camera’s limit and the interesting images I can create. I look forward to seeing your creativity. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you cocomino. That’s what I thought too when I first saw them on the computer screen. Some of the shots look more like paintings.

  2. Awesome images Emily, makes me wish I hadn’t deleted mine when I try night shooting. These effects are really cool.

    • Thanks for the compliment Martina. Next time when you are out at night just do it again. The more I try, the more I am learning how to make the result better. I’m going to try shooting from JY’s convertible next time.

    • Thanks Helen for the compliment. I really enjoyed the technique and look forward to more experiments. It’s like painting with the camera.

    • Thank you for your comment and suggestion. I haven’t been to an amusement park in a long time… maybe it’s time for a revisit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hello from Denmark ๐Ÿ™‚ – came here via freshly pressed, where I admired your first photo here, it is amazing, I love that pattern and these lines! How did you shoot this? I like the third too – I can imagine how you captured this. See you again!!!

    • Hi Truels, thanks for the nice comment and it’s good to see you again. For the first shot, I used f/22, 6 seconds, ISO 200, and white balance: sunny. The streaks were created from oncoming headlights of the cars on the freeway. We were going about 60 miles/100 km an hour. Instead of shooting it head on, I shot it face the side so that the lights pass by during the duration of the shutter speed. And for the others, I shot it head on but also by moving the camera in circles, up and down, or whatever directions I think would create the lines I wanted.

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