Pierre-Alexandre Huguenin — Portrait Photographer based in Geneva, Switzerland. © 2020 All Rights Reserved.

Urban Exploration

Long Exposure in Geneva: Car Trails

The cold temperatures of the winter season aren’t promising to a stroll in the streets of the city in the evening. Although I don’t like very much going out at night when it’s cold outside, I opted for some long exposures in Geneva. Initially, I wanted to shoot Lake Geneva and the Jet d’Eau, as I find this scene quite picturesque depending on the composition. However, I had to change plans, since the Jet d’Eau is turned off at 4 p.m. in winter, so it’s not dark enough to give a dramatic look to my images.

I finally decided to go for one of the most famous subjects when it comes to long exposure: car trails. With the explosion of traffic in Geneva over the past few years, it’s not difficult to capture cars passing by. Depending on the angle and the composition, car trails can give a lovely look to your image. In my opinion, it’s an easy way to do light-painting without asking for a friend to move lights in front of the camera.

Long exposures = tripod

The only requirement to make this kind of photograph is a tripod to have your camera steady while taking the shot. Indeed, to create car trails, you need to decrease your shutter speed to have at least a one-second exposure depending on the traffic. As a matter of fact, without a tripod, your image would be blurry, since you want the sensor of your camera to capture light for more than a second. I use a Hama Star 61, which I’m pleased with. I bought it for about 25 euros on Amazon. It’s very light, and you can easily transport it with its travel bag. Nonetheless, if you plan to utilise your tripod in extreme conditions (sand, water, mud, etc.), I recommend that you invest in a stronger tripod like the Induro CLT004.

Additionally, make sure you’re manually focusing; to achieve the best results, use the focus peaking function of your camera to fine-tune the focus of the image.

The first shot was taken a bit before Maison de la Paix tram stop, while the next three images were taken after Châteaubriand bus stop on the Avenue de France.

Let me you know what you think about those images in the comments 🙂

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