Nikon home projects part 1: Create amazing light trails

    By | Nikon DSLR Tips | Photography Tutorials | Tutorials | 30/04/2013 09:53am
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    Is the weather too bad for shooting outside? Are you looking for new photographic ideas that you can try at home with your Nikon D-SLR? Then why not follow our ten-part series of Nikon home projects?

    In part 1, we show you how to create amazing lighting effects with long shutter speeds and a moving light source. It’s so easy to do, but it looks amazing.

    Nikon home projects - light trails

    How it was done

    Here’s our set up, with the bottle placed against a dark background and the the flashlight suspended with string. Only release the shutter and start raising the flashlight once you’re happy with the motion, and be prepared to have a few goes at this. Try experimenting with different bottles or even fancy glassware.

    Nikon home projects - light trails

    We used the exposed bulb of a Maglite flashlight because the small, very bright light is perfect for this technique, but other movable lights are also worth experimenting with. We used a ten-second exposure as this gave us enough time to record our twirl, but if you’re making a more complex trail or light painting you may need a much longer exposure.

    In our shot, we also used a small amount of ‘ambient’ light from a desk lamp to give shape to the glass bottle and help it stand out within the spiral. Use your Nikon’s LCD display and histogram to establish a good base exposure for your central object before you start ‘painting’ with the torch.

    For this project timing is critical, and it’ll take a few attempts to get it right. Suspend the flashlight from a piece of string and start making a circular motion at the bottom of the bottle. Use a cable release to activate the shutter, then slowly raise the flashlight, making the ellipse of the circle smaller nearer the top.

    Camera set up tips

    • Black velvet is great if you want a good rich black background as the dark, matte fabric absorbs lots of light.

    • To create the shot, a flashlight suspended from a piece of string is gently rotated around the bottle while moving up during a ten-second exposure.

    • In our example, the naked bulb of the flashlight has been covered with some red fabric for a brightly-coloured twirl.


    Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 at 9:53 am under Nikon DSLR Tips, Photography Tutorials, Tutorials. You can subscribe to comments.

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