Shooting Challenge: Car Light Trails

Illustration for article titled Shooting Challenge: Car Light Trails

It’s one of the coolest, simple effects in photography. A car zooms by in the night. You capture it looking like Tron. For this week’s Shooting Challenge, capture long, luxurious exposure of cars at night.

The Challenge

Take a long exposure photo of cars driving at night.

The Technique

So to pull this off, it’s not hard, but you’ll need to take a few steps. First, lock down your camera on a tripod, or place it somewhere steady. Then, set your exposure for about 10-20 seconds. You’ll need to leave the aperture open for this long to create the light trail effect.


There’s a deeper explanation here, but bottom line, you’ll need to play around on the scene a bit to get the exact exposure levels that you want.

For those of you using your phones rather than a dSLR, drop your favorite long exposure apps in the comments.

The Example

Our lead image is by Mathew Bedworth. It’s of a 13-second exposure. I like the mix of colors you get from ongoing traffic, incoming traffic, and what looks like a train.


The Rules

1. Submissions need to be your own.

2. Photos must be taken this week.

3. Explain, briefly, the equipment, settings, technique and story behind shot.

4. Email submissions to, not me.

5. Include 970px wide image (200KB or less) AND a 2560px wide image in email. I know that your photo may not fall into those exact high rez dimensions, so whatever native resolution you’re using is fine.


6. One submission per person.

7. Use the proper SUBJECT line in your email (more info on that below)

8. You agree to the Standard Contest Rules - though we DO accept non-US resident submissions.


9. If the image contains any material or elements that are not owned by you and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the image, you are responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the image in the manner set forth in these rules without additional compensation. If any person appearing in any image is under the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.

Send your best photo by Monday, April 20th at 10 AM Eastern to with “Cars” in the subject line. Save your files as JPGs, and use a FirstnameLastnameCars.jpg (970px wide) and FirstnameLastnameCarsWallpaper.jpg (2560px wide) naming conventions.


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