How to make a perfect night photo of the road

Thanks to the long shutter speed, done wisely, you will turn the night highway into a dramatic futuristic picture. The result determines, first of all, proper preparation.

The highway looks during the day, as a rule, gray and hopeless, associated with dust, noise and exhaust gases. In the dark, a high-speed highway can serve as a motive for creating a spectacular picture. The effect of glowing traces is achieved by using a long shutter speed, and it’s best to shoot from the bridge over the highway. To work with a long shutter speed, you need to use a tripod and a remote shutter release, to prevent blurring of the image.

It is better to first install a lens and a remote shutter on the camera, and only then mount the camera on a tripod. This will reduce the risk of some elements of your equipment falling on the highway and hitting it on passing vehicles. The optimal shutter speed is easy to calculate: just mark the time in seconds, necessary for the car to pass the segment, on which you want to fix the glowing strip. Additional elements, such as illuminated structures in the background, will turn your photo into a real masterpiece.

How to do it:

We arrive at the shooting location at the right time

It is advisable to be in place before dusk, so that in daylight, taking your time and having a good view of the surroundings, select the desired shooting point. Because you, most likely, we’ll have to spend a few hours there, take warm clothes with you. Also put a headlamp in the photo bag.

We are in a stable position

After that, how do you install a camera with a lens and remote descent on a tripod, loosen the shoulder strap, to prevent blurring of the image due to wind. Press the trigger only at that moment, when there are no passing cars on the bridge. It is not necessary to remove the belt from the shoulder at all for greater safety, so that the camera does not suddenly fall, for example, from a gust of wind.

Setting up the camera correctly

In the ‘Bulb’ mode’ the shutter is held open until, until you pull the trigger. The low ISO sensitivity and the noise reduction function involved guarantee a result with a minimum amount of distortion. Select the optimal aperture for the scene and set the camera to RAW mode.

Prevent smudging

For digital SLR cameras, activate the mirror lock function in the camera menu. Thanks to this, when you first press the trigger, the mirror will first lean up, and only pressing the trigger again will make a frame. Thus, you will prevent a ‘wiggle’, which is provoked by tilting the mirror during the shooting itself. An alternative is to use the Live View mode.

Enhancing the effect of the image in the RAW converter

In the RAW converter you can improve the picture, using the ‘Highlights’ and ‘Shadows’ sliders. Light vignetting will draw attention to the center of the photo. A sky that is too black can be turned blue with a gradient mask. Now open the image in Photoshop.

Updating the snapshot

Here first with the [Ctrl] keys [J] create a copy of the layer. Now use the ‘Healing Brush’ tool to fix potholes on the road. Interrupted luminous gatherings, caused by, eg, by moving the car to another lane, finish drawing using the ‘Stamp Tool’ function. Finally, you can slightly sharpen the photo.