Easy Photo Tip: Here’s Something You Can Try Tonight

©Jon Sienkiewicz

Some discouraged photographers complain and say they can’t get good shots because they don’t have the time or funds to travel to exotic, photogenic places. Sorry to rain on their pity party, but everyone can get decent images without a travel budget. Here are a couple projects you can start on tonight, as soon as it gets dark.

The images that accompany this story are not going to win any prizes, but you have to admit that they’re kinda cool. All were taken on the day after Christmas and within one block of Carnegie Hall. I used my faithful Fujifilm X-T1 and an XF 18-55mm f2.8 zoom lens.

Normally, trick techniques like panning to capture motion are practiced during daylight hours, but it’s much more fun at night. The lights in the background smear and streak while the camera follows the moving subject, in this case a horse. It’s not hard to do.

In Shutter Priority Mode, I set 1/15th of a second. ISO was 3200 and the camera selected f4. Looking through the viewfinder, I fixed my eye on the horse’s eye and smoothly panned the camera, trying to match his speed. I got this (see above) on my first attempt.

The shot of the zoomed bus was a bit more serendipitous. According to the EXIF data, the camera fired at 1/26th of a second at f3.6. ISO was still 3200. In my mind, what makes this a decent shot is the messenger bicycle rider who nearly collided with me during the exposure. You can just see her entering the frame from the right side.

©Jon Sienkiewicz

The same sort of zooming technique works well on any type of stationary light—including traffic lights. Again, the process is simple and easy.

Make sure your shutter speed is around 1/15 of a second, hold the camera very, very still and zoom the lens during exposure.

©Jon Sienkiewicz

Try these two techniques tonight and leave a comment telling us how you made out.

—Jon Sienkiewicz