As the holidays approach, we dress up our neighborhoods with beautiful colorful lights providing great Christmas light night photography opportunities.
One of the fun things to do is use a zoom lens to create some unique images using a long exposure, and moving the zoom during the exposure.
Here is how you do it !
- Place your camera with a zoom lens on a sturdy tripod
- Put the camera in Manual Mode
- Without taking a picture, look through your eyepiece, and slowly zoom the lens and pick your starting point, and ending point zoom compositions.
- Start with a 10 second exposure, and set your aperture and ISO to balance the exposure. Take a test shot to check your exposure on the histogram. (Photo tip on Histograms)
- Once you get your exposure set, its time to play. Press the shutter button, and wait 5 seconds without touching the zoom. After 5 seconds, slowly and smoothly move the zoom (in or out) for the remaining 5 seconds of the 10 second exposure.
What you will create is a subject for the first 5 seconds, and then light steaks for the remaining 5 seconds.
Once you start to see how the images are created, you can experiment with many different exposures.
Try some of the following suggestions.
- 10 second exposure – 4 seconds still, zoom for 2 seconds, 4 seconds still
- 10 second exposure – 8 second still, zoom for 2 seconds
- 30 second exposure – 10 second exposure, zoom for 2 seconds, 8 second exposure, zoom for 2 seconds, 8 second exposure.
You will need to check your exposure after each shot as it will depend on how much zooming you do. It will probably take you a couple of tries for each composition as you will fine tune your zooming speed and how long you let the exposure go without moving the zoom.
Have a lot of fun with this, and make sure you get out there because after January, its going to be a long time to wait until the lights are up again.