Nightly Night Photo – Car Light Streaks

These kinds of photos are crazy easy to shoot. Just find an overpass over a divided highway and use a wide-angle lens to accentuate the convergence effect.

The key is finding the right overpass and photographing at the right time. You want something interesting on the horizon, like mountains, a city skyline, or most anything that juts up into the sky. The right time to shoot is usually twilight, when the illumination in the sky most closely matches the highway lighting.

Car light streaks on divided highway

Nikon D800, Nikon 14-24 lens, f/8, 25 seconds, ISO 200 (5 frames stacked)

The lighting was even enough that I could have made this image in one capture, but I wanted to show more light streaks than what a single 25-second exposure recorded, so I stacked 5 frames in Photoshop and used the Lighten blend mode to make all the light streaks show up.

This image is helped farther by shooting when Venus was blazing in the dawn twilight sky.

You want to be careful when photographing scenes like this, however. Don’t shoot from a busy overpass or one where you can’t set up the tripod several feet away from passing cars. For this shot, I was on a railroad overpass, so I didn’t have to worry about cars whizzing by and I had lots of space to set up safely away from the tracks.

Oh, I should mention that all active RR tracks are private property and no RR company is going to give you permission to set up a tripod on a RR bridge. Use this information as you see fit.

Just do me a favor and don’t show this photo to anyone from Norfolk Southern Railroad Company!

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