How to short circuit

Ever since I posted Short Circuit I’ve been meaning to post a small tutorial on how I did it. There were so many comments from people clamouring to know the secret of how I made traces of light dance around the picture frame.

Actually, nobody asked. Will was kind enough to suggest another title but otherwise it went unremarked. *sob* I’m going to tell you anyway.

The image is a long exposure shot, of at least 1 second and preferably 4 or 5 seconds. I simply stood in front of a construction site at night, lifted the camera, hit the shutter and rotated the camera around in my hands. Needless to say, I did not have the strap around my neck or I would have done myself damage!
At first I tried Aperture Priority mode, setting the aperture really small (big numbers, around F/22), but then I decided to do the obvious, and used Shutter Priority and simply set the speed(time) I wanted. Below are a few shots from that night, including the scene as it was on the night and some experimental shots as I practiced. The technique is really easy, but can create some really interesting and eye catching photos.


Aperture ƒ/3.5
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 800
Shutter speed 1/10s

Short Circuit

short circuit

Electricity everywhere and so evident at night in street lighting. I took this shot after meeting Mark for coffee 2 weeks ago. It’s this building site right in the middle of Cork City. More conventional shots will follow over the next few days.

Aperture ƒ/11
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 8s

That after sun glow

The sun had just set over this stretch of the water in Cork Harbour near Monkstown and the sky had turned a beautiful orange and purple and red and golden.

Much to the annoyance of my dog Oscar, I stopped and spent a good 10 minutes shooting this scene and basked in the beautiful colour.

Starlight headlights

A long five second exposure at f/22 captured cars stuck on Patrick Street about a month ago.

They’ve done some fabulous work on the pavements of Cork’s main thoroughfare but it hasn’t made a jot of difference to vehicular traffic, except to make it more dangerous to pedestrians as they saunter across junctions blissfully unaware of the cars bearing down on them ..

So many light trails

Light trails from passing cars fill the frame with a golden glow on the corner of The Grand Parade and Washington Street, Cork.

Long exposure shot made possible by the traffic light switch on which I rested my camera!

Starlight Christmas Lights

The Christmas lights on Carey’s Lane shine brightly in this long exposure shot.

The exposure is so long that crowds of people walked past, some apologising, without evening showing up on the final image! The only person visible is a homeless guy sitting in a doorway. I love how the Christmas lights came out in this. f/22 does lovely things to points of light.

This was taken one evening while in town and I had a few moments to spare. Get out the camera, crouch down and put the wallet under the lens to point it up a bit. Perfectly still, without a tripod!

While I shot this I realised where this photo was taken! See the No Parking sign?