A Night Drive

motorway lights

On our journey back from Devon last week, I amused myself with taking some abstracts of the view from my window.  I hasten to add that my husband was driving, not me!

motorway lights

This technique is very easy.  I manually focused beyond the window, then selected a reasonably narrow aperture (between f.14 – f.20) and a low ISO (most of these are at ISO 100).  This gave me shutter speeds of between 8 and 20 seconds; perfect to get light streams and to even out the impact of some of the inevitable bumps.  I also dialled in some negative exposure compensation. Then I sat the camera on the dashboard and pressed the shutter.

motorway lights

I used self-timer too, although as the camera is sitting in a moving vehicle, there will be some movement so any improvement to the shots from using self-timer is minimal.

motorway lights

It’s great practice for a photographer who usually likes control. You have to let go with photography like this. That’s part of the fun.  Who am I kidding?  It’s all of the fun.

motorway lights

Here I have concentrated on images where the dominant colour is amber (street lights). These images do not really work on their own so well but, as a set, or maybe the best three as a triptych, they have more merit.  At least, I think they do…

motorway lights

So, if you had to choose, which three do you think might work best together?  I am pretty sure I like no.s 2 and 3, but not sure about the third choice…

By the way, I used the Sony NEX-7 for all of these and I think it’s done a fair job.  In particular, I think the image stabilisation has coped marvellously with the vibrations from the car.  Also, a DSLR would not fit on the dashboard.

16 thoughts on “A Night Drive

  1. Interesting. Sodium street lights must have a strobe effect because where the light position is changing the quickest (just as it goes out of frame) you can see banding appear on the streaks. I never knew that the light from sodium vapour lights wasn’t continuous.

    I’ll have to give this a try myself. I often take shots from the car when we are driving around on holiday but I’ve always used the fastest shutter speed I could manage; it never occurred to me to use the motion blur before.

  2. Love these, I often try this when I’m bored on an evening journey. Sometimes I go really crazy and use the Bulb setting and wave the camera around to get really strange light shapes! I obviously need to get out more…

  3. Love these! It’s fun seeing what you can get from a long exposure and some pretty lights. Personally, love the 4th one. Feel like I’m getting sucked in!

    I’ve played around with this in the past:


    and then with added rain and more jerkyness:

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