Fast Cars


As a Glaswegian working in Edinburgh – and sometimes Fife – I was travelling over 100 miles, on four trains, for over two hours every weekday. It meant early mornings getting to work on time but equally late evenings that resulted in me having less time to unwind and do things outside of work.

As a result I moved to a town in between, with good transport links to Glasgow (where my friends and family are) and Edinburgh (where my work is).  ‘The buckle of the central belt’ as I have christened it.

Part of the transport link is the M8, Scotland’s main motorway, linking its two biggest cities. I’ve driven it many, many, times but had yet, until last week, to photograph it.

I’ve also found that finding the time to take photographs in a personal capacity has been difficult in the middle of an incredibly busy period of my life. Therefore the ability to take photos at night would give me a larger window to practices different techniques.

Therefore one evening last week I forgo the European football on BT Sport, slung my Nikon around my neck, and headed off to the M8 to practice shooting light and traffic trails.

The M8 is always busy so I figured I would have a steady stream of traffic allowing me to use trial and error in finding the perfect camera set up for the photos.

Unfortunately I was sans tripod so I had to take all photographs with a bit of improvisation, a railing of the bridge as a rest and a very steady hand.

I started with my ISO set at 100 but personally found the better pictures came when I switched to 200, which is the setting for all the pictures you can see in this post.

The aperture for all photos was f/8 and the shutter speed ranged from 4-8 seconds. I intentionally kept to the lower end of a recommended shutter speed  for such a technique due to my lack of tripod and conscious of the fact that one small jerk of the hand could ruin this shot.

For my first real attempt at this technique I am happy with the results. Sure they aren’t perfect but I think they are okay for a beginner, and I have to admit seeing the trails of light show up on my camera did bring a huge sense of satisfaction.

Now that I feel a bit more confident in the technique I am going to have to try and find more places to try and practice it, perhaps with a better foreground/background – perhaps with stationary lights – to juxtapose the concept of motion.

Have you tried this technique or do you have any recommendations of locations that would make a good setting for such a photo?





2 Comments Add yours

  1. I’d love to have a go at shooting traffic trails, but I live in Mid Wales and there’s not much traffic around here at night. Something to think about when I’m away from home, I think.

    Great shots, by the way 🙂


    1. JamieTSmyth says:

      Thanks! 🙂

      They are really simple photos to take actually. I’d definitely recommend giving it a try, it doesn’t necessarily have to be cars.


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