Light Trials of Moving Cars (Thika Road) Kenya

Lifes light. Life is light. You can make light do anything you want to. Photography means 'light writing'...Jessy Kigen

Light Trails continue to be popular subject matter for many photographers and they can actually be a great training ground for those wanting to get their cameras out of manual mode and to experiment with shooting in low light at longer exposures.

Here is my story;
        From a long day shoot on my way home i was  amazed by the lighting and the way cars was moving up and down the great  road of Thika road.
The sun had gone home there was slightly beam of light from the sun ....."The Golden moment"
 I took out my camera to shoot the Golden Moment, but i realized for me to get a nice  light trails from a moving car i need a tripod 
Nooo!!!!!  i had no tripod with me but i could improvise the Bridge Pavement or the wall to place my camera for steady shot with no shaky movement.

See what i photographed.
The mighty Thika Road.(kenya) photo by Jessy Kigen


Camera Model: Canon Eos 600D
Iso speed : ISO-100
F-Stop  f/20
Exposure time. 30sec.

                               How  to Shoot Light Trails 


There is not just one particular type of camera and kit that you’ll need to capture light trails – however it is important to have a camera that allows you to have some control over exposure settings – particularly those that allow you to choose longer shutter speeds. This means you need a camera that has the ability to shoot in either full manual mode and/or shutter priority mode (something that all DSLRs and many point and shoot cameras have).
You’ll also need a tripod (or some other way to making your camera completely still) as you’ll be shooting with long shutter speeds which will make shooting handheld pretty much impossible.
Not essential but helpful to have with you are lens hoods (to help block lens flare from ambient lights), remote shutter release cables or wireless remote controls, patience and some warm clothes if you’re going out on a chilly night.

Setting Up Your Shot:

Photographing light trails is not difficult – it’s as simple as finding virtually any road with cars going down it once the sun goes down. But getting a shot that grabs attention means putting a little more thought into choosing your location, thinking about timing and framing your image. Here are a few tips on how to set your shot up:
  • Timing/Light – one might think that the middle of the night is the best time for light trail photography (and it can be) – however one very effective time to do it is just as the sun is going down (just before and after). If you shoot at this time you’ll not only capture light from cars, but ambient light in the sky which can add atmosphere to your shots. You also might find that earlier in the evening you get a little more ‘action’ in your shot with more cars and even the movement of people through your shot.
  • Creative Perspectives – some of the most effective light trail shots that I’ve taken and seen from others were taken from perspectives other than at the height of a normal person standing up. Get down low or find a place looking down on your scene that will create an unusual angle.
  • Location – the most obvious thing with location is that you’ll need it to be somewhere near a road – however there’s more to think about than that. Choose a location that adds interest to the shot in some way. This might be one where there are well lit buildings along the road, one where multiple roads merge together to create light trails in different directions, on the bend of a road so that the trails sweep through the image, near a roundabout so the trails create circular shapes, in the middle of dual carriageways (on a triaffic island) so that you get traffic coming in two directions etc.  
  • Framing – the normal ‘rules’ of composition apply in this type of photography. Images need some sort of point/s of interest, the rule of thirds can be applied effectively, draw the eyes into your image using lines smartly, foregounds and backgrounds should add to and not distract from the image.
    The mightyThika Road(Kenya)  Photo by. Jessy Kigen

Camera Model: Canon Eos 600D
Iso speed : ISO-100
F-Stop  f/20
Exposure time. 30sec.

  • Choose a low ISO setting - this will give you images with as little noise as possible.  
  • Shoot in RAW if you have it -this will enable you to have more control in your post production work – particularly in getting white balance right (something that can be important as you’re shooting in a situation with lots of artificial light that can cause all kinds of color casts in your shot).
  • Manual Focus - In low light situations cameras can struggle to get focusing locked correctly. The last thing you want is for your camera to be in and out of focus just as you need to hit the shutter release. Switch to manual focus and make sure your focus is upon a part of your image that is visually strong.
  • Using Bulb Mode

    Many digital cameras have a mode on them called ‘bulb’ mode that allows you as the photographer to keep the shutter open as long as you wish. This can be very handy in this type of photography to time your shots with precision. If you use this you’ll want to be using a remote shutter release to stop any camera movement while the shutter is open. 

    Am sure when yo follow up the process above yo will come with Amazing light Trails. Thanks for Reading.
    Got some good light trail shots?   i will be delighted if you share and we  learn more on this  blog......Am out #slickphotobyjessykigen......My story There life's. Article by. Jessy Kigen.courtesy of Digital photography school.




  1. had to be my best piece..its like an education on photography..amazing


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