Light Trails and Fog

Photography has been my hobby for many years but one thing I've never tried is light trail photography. So on a whim one night this past week I decided to drive to a nearby bridge that I thought would provide a nice accent and give it a try. Unfortunately the notion hit me a bit late in the evening and by the time I drove to the site and got all set up, traffic was not very active. Below are my results, such that they are...

This was my first shot, ISO 80, f/10, 30 second exposure. I figured that since traffic was light I should keep the shutter open as long as I could in order to catch more cars.

I thought I'd try different settings and see how they came out. This was originally shot at ISO 80, f/25, 30 second exposure. Which proved to be too small of an aperture and initially came out very dark. I tweaked the exposure in Lightroom and thought I'd see how it looked in black and white. I also added a "purple passion" after effect via Perfect Effects.

Another obstacle, on top of the light traffic, was that fog started rolling in. I left the ISO the same while taking these and just trying different apertures and shutter speeds, trying to catch the fog rolling in. All were dark and needed some tweaking in Lightroom. Here are a  few shots of a field behind me.

ISO 80, f/8, 15s

ISO 80, f/7.1, 30s

ISO 80, f/8, 8s

This last photo here was taken hurriedly, as I was originally still focused on the bridge and waiting for some traffic, but I looked behind me and saw 3 little deer walking across the field. Their little silhouettes standing majestically in the fog. It would have made for a wonderful photo so I whipped the camera around and quickly pushed the button because they started walking. Only I moved so quickly I forgot to adjust my settings and had forgotten that I had been taking long exposures and by the time the shutter finally closed the deer had walked out of the frame, leaving nothing but fog captured, as if they were never there.

Below are the rest of my light trail attempts, at various speeds and apertures, as the fog got thicker and thicker. No real logic to them, just kicking this up here and kicking this down there, to see what happened.

ISO 80, f/9, 10s

ISO 200, f/20, 20s

ISO 400, f/20, 10s

ISO 640, f/25, 30s

ISO 200, f/9, 10s

ISO 200, f/11, 15s

ISO 200, f/11, 15s

The ones with just a hint of a red trail are the result of only one car rolling through the frame.

With this last picture of the bridge, I had decided to pack it in and head on home but then heard a train off in the distance so I stuck around a few minutes longer. I had missed a train earlier when I swung around to try to get the deer. That I missed. Also. Too. The lights on that one had been bright and traffic was going over the bridge as it passed under and I kicked myself at missing what may have been a really cool shot. So I waited out this train, getting all excited the closer it got, even though it most likely would only be the train, as traffic had pretty much fallen off completely by then. As you can see in this shot, with the barely visible train light trail (if you can see it at all. lol) the result was disappointing. lol. The train lights were very dim and all of them didn't seem to be on (probably due to the engineer...conductor?...whatever you call them adjusting them due to the dense fog).

ISO 100, f/11, 15s

One last photo, just for kicks. Two versions of the same photo.

This photo was originally very dark. The first one here is after it was lightened considerably and noise reduced and the second is after a texture filter was added via Perfect Effects. Thank goodness for photoshop. You can salvage many a useless photo and make them halfway presentable. I had used a higher ISO of 800 and a 30 second exposure. Still quite dark as I had accidentally kicked the aperture up to f/22 by turning the wrong dial and then forgetting to lower it back down after I used the dial I was originally going for. lol. Thus ends my first adventure in light trails. I'll put more effort and forethought into it next time so that I can get some really fantastical lights swirling about, but this was a nice quiet spot where I could take my time and not be disturbed or disturb anyone else.

  • No Comments