A little help with light trails

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by zulu42, Jan 17, 2018.

  1. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I want one of these shots, just to have one of these shots: The light trails of an airplane taking off/landing.

    First try this morning. I think I got camera shake pressing the shutter, I'll use a remote next time.
    I'll get a plane landing next for much more lighting on the aircraft. This was a 13s exposure. I'd like to get at least 15s if not 20s for a longer trail. Side note: Holy cow my sensor is filthy.

    How can I set this up to minimize noise? Isn't the exposure about right, as far as the highlights?
    Any tips are greatly valued. Thank you.

    First try SOOC
    D5100, 18-55mm, shot at 36mm.
    ISO500 f/32 13.0s
    light trails-1.jpg


     
  2. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think if you drop you ISO to 100, you'll get just what you want.

    Have fun!
    -Pete
     
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  3. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Cool, so maybe ISO 100 and 20s.

    I can only get one takeoff and landing per day... no chimping and adjusting lol
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    My feeling is that f/32 at ISO 500 is too dim....that f/32 is simply not "bright enough" to make a good, thick light trail. Because the aperture is so small, the lights are not burning in very much, but instead create just a thin, thready trace-line.
     
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  5. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If I catch their landing tonight, there will be less ambient light from the sky. That should allow me to open up the aperture.
     
  6. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Hard part for the landing will be deciding when to open the shutter. it would be a shame for that 20s to end too soon.
    I wonder how powerful of a strobe I would need to flash the aircraft at the end of the light trail. That would be cool, eh?

    Just thinking out loud :)
     
  7. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Would be cool, but likely illegal and dangerous much like a laser pointer.

    If you use a remote and bulb mode you can open the shutter when the plane enters the frame and close it when it leaves it.
     
  8. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Bulb mode is a great idea, if I can get the exposure right. I just shot the landing: 25s wasn't enough.

    Certainly strobing an airplane on landing could be dangerous, could be illegal if you disrupted the pilot's vision. Would be highly irresponsible if the crew wasn't aware.

    Wouldn't be any of those things in my case. The crew is friends of mine, they are interested in setting up the shot. When we get an opportunity, we're going to try and get the light trail along the approach, and strobe the airplane just as the main gear touch, while the nose is still up. I can have the light stands about 20 feet off the wing. Going to experiment and see how close I have to get for my two speedlights at full power to light up the airplane in the dark. Doubt they'll stop motion completely, though.
     
  9. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    This is the light trail of two 25s exposures hastily stitched together. So, I'll need 35 to 40 seconds of exposure for a shot with this long of a light trail.

    So, progress, but not there yet. The light trails look a ton better, thanks to the help from you guys.

    things to fix:
    1 blur. I either got more camera shake, or I missed focus. I thought the camera grabbed focus on one of the runway lights. weight on the tripod, and maybe manual focus.
    2 background interest. I need to find a vantage point with some structures or something. For a shot with just light trails and runway lights, pretty boring.

    Thanks again

    ISO 100 f/7.1 25.0s
    light trails-1-2.jpg

    with some edits
    light trails-1-3.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2018
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  10. Destin

    Destin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Looks like you’re on the right path. I agree with everything you said.
     
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  11. Christie Photo

    Christie Photo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Getting there! I would definitely focus manually. And... at the distance you're working, I would use a wider aperture. No worries about depth of field when working at such a distance. You should start to get some detail in the foreground. You certainly need a stable tripod. If you're out of the wind, any decent one should suffice.

    Good goin'!
    -Pete
     
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  12. Low_Sky

    Low_Sky No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Getting better. Based on your first shot I was going to suggest getting closer to the runway centerline (shooting the front of the plane rather than the side).

    You seem to have figured this out, but you can’t change the brightness of the lights, so you have to shoot later to get the lights brighter relative to the sky.

    And of course, bulb mode.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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