Photo ideas: Capture light trails from the comfort of your own car

Watch video: Photo ideas – Capture light trails from your own car

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Shooting a long exposure from a moving car might sound borderline impossible, but the results can be spectacular. The key is to mount the camera securely to the car first. With the camera attached, the car will remain sharp in the shot no matter how much it moves around on the road, while any passing lights will blur into stunning light trails. This is great for showing off the bright lights of a big city from a totally new perspective. 

The easiest way to attach your Nikon to your car is to use a suction mount, such as the Delkin Fat Gecko Triple. This features suckers at one end, and a tripod fitting at the other. Once the camera is in place, you can shoot as long an exposure as you need to get the degree of motion blur required. It goes without saying that you don’t want to risk damaging your precious kit, so make sure everything is completely secure, and keep a tight hold of your camera strap while you’re shooting, just in case!  

(Image credit: Future)

If you can't find a suitable suction cup camera mount (or you're just not happy sticking your camera out of a moving vehicle!), why not try moving the camera inside the car and shooting from the middle back seat. This is a great way to maintain the creative light trails technique, while also experimenting with a new point of view.

Capture unique light trails from a moving car

(Image credit: Future)

Suck it up!

Use the mount to attach your camera to the side of your car. Make sure the surface of the car is clean first, and check that the suction mounts are firmly attached. While shooting, wrap the camera strap around your wrist, just in case anything does come loose.

(Image credit: Future)

Go wide

Shoot with a wide-angle lens so the car is included in the frame. Drive through busy, brightly lit areas, such as city centers, or along motorways and other long, straight roads. If you haven’t got a suction mount, you can always set up a tripod in the back. 

(Image credit: Future)

Go long

You may need to experiment with shutter speed, but 4-8 secs is a good starting point. To allow for the length of the exposure, set a small aperture at ISO100. This will also help to ensure good depth of field, so that everything ‘motionless’ within the image remains sharp. 

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N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine is a monthly publication that's entirely dedicated to Nikon users. As a 100% independent magazine, you can be assured of unbiased opinion from a trustworthy team of devoted photography experts including editor Adam Waring and Deputy Editor Mike Harris

Aimed at all users, from camera newcomers to working pros, every issue is packed with practical, Nikon-specific advice for taking better photos, in-depth reviews of Nikon-compatible gear, and inspiring projects and exciting video lessons for mastering camera, lens and Photoshop techniques.

Written by Nikon users for Nikon users, N-Photo is your one-stop shop for everything to do with cameras, lenses, tripods, bags, tips, tricks and techniques to get the most out of your photography.