Light Trails on Mount Lemmon
Light Trails can be some of the most fun things to photograph. On a recent trip up to Mount Lemmon, located in the Catalina Mountains on the north side of Tucson, I decided to pull over and take some pictures of some Light Trails with the Tucson city lights in the distance. The sun had just set so there was still just a touch of color in the sky.
Mount Lemmon is a common getaway for Tucsonans. A forty-five minute drive in the summer time can take one from 100 degree weather and 2500 foot elevation to 70 degree weather and almost 9000 foot elevation. Cactus and scrub brush give way to grass lands mixed with scrub oak which then gives way to a pine forest. The small town of Summerhaven sits near the top of Mount Lemmon next to a small ski resort. The small town is surrounded by national forest. It has a few hundred homes and several small businesses including some good little eateries. Hiking trails abound at every turn. The road there is full of spectacular views so it makes for a great place to take pictures of Light Trails.
How to shoot Light Trails:
In order to shoot light trails, you're going to need a few items.
First, find an area that you think would make a good composition and where cars go by. Cars are kind of important for Light Trails. Sometimes shooting from very low to the ground or from a high vantage point can dramatically improve the picture. Set up the camera on the tripod. Adjust the settings on your camera to shoot between 10 and 30 seconds. If your camera allows for manual focus set it for manual and focus on the closest thing in the picture. Adjust your aperture for a proper exposure. Do this only as cars are passing by. If you don't, the meter will be off. Your aperture should be set for a minimum f/8, but could be as small as f/32. Set the timer, remote, or cable release. Take the picture, timing it for when cars are passing to capture their light trails. This may take some experimenting, but it is not difficult.
Light Trails really can be a lot of fun to shoot. Instead of freezing motion, you are showing the motion of those light trails.
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