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Tips on light trails please


Active Member
Had my first attempt at some light trails last night but wondered what peoples suggestions were to get the best results.

I have a D5100 and a D90, and have the 18-55, 55-200, 18-200 and 35mm lenses.

Which combinations would give me the best results and what short of settings (iso/shutter/aperature) should I be using?

Here's a few of my attempts from last night:


Light Trails by steven_9709, on Flickr


Light Trails by steven_9709, on Flickr


Light Trails by steven_9709, on Flickr


Light Trails by steven_9709, on Flickr

There's some others on my Flickr stream too.

I'm think I might have overexposed a few of them, perhaps use a shorter shutter but would be pleased to hear hints/tips :)


Well-known Member
They look okay to me. You can't really recommend settings as it depends on how fast the lights are moving and how much you want the background lit and how light the sky is.

The shutter speed will control the length of the trails and the iso and aperture are then used to control the brightness.

Experimentation is the way to go.


Well-known Member
steven_9709 said:
Thanks guys, look like it's down to experimentation then...oh and correcting my WB ;-)

I like #3 the best, good pylon silhouette and stars - but I guess the light trails are less.

My only tip, ISO as low as you can to keep noise to a minimum. More traffic would be good.


Active Member
I'd agree that the main thing is to keep your ISO as low as possible to minimise noise and grain. I'm not sure about the white balance comment. Unless you're shooting away from any sodium street lighting you're going to get an orange skty like that. Light pollution wrecks a lot of night shots!

My favourite was 4. I liked the stars in 3 but preferred the overall balance of light and dark for the sky in 4. The oncoming headlights are very strong, just a shame the red rear lights are a little paler.

Overall though looking good!

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