One evening I was sitting on the balcony, enjoying the cool view from our building – and a chord was struck inside me. I grabbed my tripod (which has not been touched since being unpacked from the move) and camera (which has only been touched to retrieve the memory card from – for something else), and set myself up on the balcony for some practice with my photography skills.

The sun was setting, so my instinct was to grab an HDR of the sunset. Why? Because it’s a technique I know how to do – it’s safe.

Boring HDR sunset
Boring, safe HDR sunset

It was ok, but boring. I needed a challenge. With my tripod set up, I thought about playing with my aperture and shutter speed settings. I set out to achieve two goals:

  1. Get a photo of a light with star streaks – small aperture, long shutter speed
  2. Test shutter speeds to get streaking headlights and brake lights of cars on the highway

I started mucking around with my shutter speed and aperture – starting with the aperture being somewhere in the middle and the shutter speed being relatively fast, and changed them one by one to get the desired effect. Once the sun set, it was much easier to get results, because the light wasn’t constantly changing. I managed to get a few neat photos of streaking lights, and then lo and behold! I captured a few lamp posts with star streaks around them (check out how many I got in this pic below!). I was excited!

Long shutter speed cars with sunset
Long shutter speed cars with sunset

As I looked through my captures, I noticed I had also caught something else moving through my long shutter speed photos – a plane! After that, I set out to capture the flights taking off from the airport – long exposure. I ended up with some neat shots, but I still need to work on playing with my ISO settings and my aperture to get the best results. Here are the fruits of my discovery! [Click on a photo to enter the slide show, hit ESC to exit!]