Subjects in Motion – Movement at Night

Movement at Night

Night-time is a great time to capture motion – especially the movement of lights. Whether it’s the trail of car lights produced by the flow of traffic through the streets, or perhaps the moving lights of a fairground, results can be stunning.

How To Shoot... Motion Pictures - Night movement

Nikon D2x, 30sec @ f/16, ISO 100 Tim Gartside

Like other techniques illustrated here you’ll need a tripod and a longish shutter speed – in most cases several seconds to get the best effect. The tripod allows you to contrast the blurred movement with sharp areas like buildings and streets. For good traffic trails find a spot with a constantly moving stream of traffic, and avoid areas such as junctions and traffic lights where cars will stop for extended periods. Remember that you’re not recording the cars themselves, just their lights, and traffic coming towards you will leave yellow trails while cars moving away from you will leave red trails. Start with an exposure time of around 10 seconds at f/11 at ISO 100 and experiment from there.

How To Shoot... Motion Pictures - Night movementHow To Shoot... Motion Pictures - Night movement
Nikon D2x, 70mm, 10sec @ f/16, ISO 100 Tim Gartside

Some subjects will produce a very different image depending on when you shoot them. The images above were exposed for the same amount of time, although the wheel remained stationary in one of them. 

  1. 1. How To Shoot... Subjects in Motion
  2. 2. Subjects in Motion - Know Before You Go
  3. 3. Subjects in Motion - Subject Movement
  4. 4. Subjects in Motion - Moving Water
  5. 5. Subjects in Motion - Panning a Moving Subject
  6. 6. Subjects in Motion - Moving the Camera
  7. 7. Subjects in Motion - Capture Wind Power
  8. 8. Subjects in Motion - Moving Clouds
  9. 9. Subjects in Motion - Slow-sync Flash
  10. 10. Subjects in Motion - Movement at Night
  11. 11. Subjects in Motion - Zoom Bursts
  12. 12. Subjects in Motion - Essential Gear
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