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Shutter speeds longer than 3 sec are needed for light trails

  Dusk Photogrpahy Level 1 - Learn how to get light trails to go right through your shot
Spacer Image 1 - A shutter speed of 1/2 second does not give the cars enough time to drive right through the shot.

Long shutter speeds

With the long exposures needed for Dusk and Night Photography, anything which moves is likely to be blurred. With longer shutter speeds, the moving item leaves a record of the distance it travels while the shutter was open. The longer the exposure, the longer the distance traveled. 'Matrix' or 'Evaluative' metering is usually best for these types of shots.

Program Mode

In 'Programme' mode, the camera will usually give you shutters of 1/2 or 1 second. This is because the camera is trying to keep the shutter speed as fast as possible (it thinks it needs to prevent camera shake, even if you are on a tripod). These speeds are usually too slow to allow the light trails from cars to run right through your shot (Image 1, above).

Dusk Photogrpahy Level 1 - Learn how to judge the best time to shoot  
Image 2 - A shutter speed of 3 seconds for city streets is just right.

Aperture Priority Mode

To get the trails going all the way through your image, you will need at least 3 seconds (Image 2, left). Aperture Priority mode is a good option here, as it will let you choose an aperture that gives you the shutter speed you need, while still keeping a correct exposure. Make sure the shutter number is not saying 'Lo' or is flashing, this means you probably will have an underexposed shot. You might need to choose a slower shutter increase the ISO to help bring more light in.

Cable release

Using the self-timer will leave you having to guess 10 seconds or 2 seconds ahead of when the traffic actually starts to come into the shot, so a cable release is vital.



This is just one tip out of many that you will learn on our Dusk Photography Course. If you would like to find our more about our Dusk Photography Level 1 - Beginners Course just click here.

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