You can energize your night shots by including streaming lights, such as cars passing through your composition. Just make sure you’re not standing in the flow of traffic at the time.
The flow of traffic provides a great opportunity to add motion to your compositions. Automobiles are light-painting machines, and it’s easy to put them to work for you. The key to success is to find a location with ambient light? such as a well-lit street, a bridge, or a large building? to serve as your main composition. Yes, you can go stand out on a dark highway and photograph cars as they whiz by, but images of streaming lights against a pitch-black backdrop aren’t really worth the danger of being there in the first place.
Think of streaming lights as an element that you add to an already interesting composition, not the sole subject of the picture itself. If you were shooting a quiet little neighborhood, you probably wouldn’t add this element to the shot; you’re trying to convey solitude, comfort, and a feeling of being off the beaten track. But if you wanted to show the hustle and bustle of rush-hour traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge or in Manhattan, including lots of streaming lights adds a sense of energy and activity. Featuring the Empire State Building rising above the activity on the street. By including streaming car lights as they drive by, you get a feel for the energy of New York City.
The first thing you need to do is find your tripod. This type of photography requires exposures that are too long for even the steadiest of hands. If you don’t want to lug around your big three-legged beast, buy a handy pocket tripod that you can set on top of newspaper boxes and ledges.
If your camera accepts a remote release, use it. Not only do you need it to trip the shutter without jarring the camera, but you also want to start the exposure just as cars are driving by. You can also use the self-timer, but you won’t have nearly as much control over when the exposure begins.