City Lights

Winter is a good time for taking skyline pictures at night. It is dark quite early and therefore light in the offices is still turned on, which gives the skyscrapers a better look. On a clear evening I grabbed my camera and tripod and went out on the streets. I spotted a good place for taking skyline pictures some days ago. It is a street which leads directly into the financial district and has a lot of traffic. The street runs over a river and on the brigde I had a higher position which gives a nice perspective. At my preferred position the brigde was shaking so much if traffic runs over it that I had to move to a position directly on a pole.

My EOS 500D camera was mounted on a tripod. The lens I used this time was my EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Kit lens. This is the better one of my wide angle lenses which is necessary if you are quite close to the skyscrapers. Image stabilizer was disabled and focus was set to auto. I set the camera into time mode and chose a shutter time of 8 seconds to get nice light trails of the passing cars. ISO was set to 100 to get as less noise as possible. Aperture was calculated by the camera automatically. For releasing the shutter I used the 2 seconds timer setting to prevent camera shakes.

I took some photos in several situations, with no cars on the street, with cars only running into the city, with only a few cars coming out of the city and with heavy traffic. Since I was on street level and close to the street the headlights of the outcoming cars were extremely bright. In heavy traffic situations this produced a bright white area dominating the picture. The scenes with no cars were kind of boring. The best results I've got with few cars on the bridge.

This photo is my favorite one. The traffic produces nice light trails in both directions. You have the red ones going down into the city and some white ones from 2 cars coming out. The skyscrapers look great and you can even see some stars. The person on the sidewalk was first a bit disturbing for me, but I must say, I like it now. It gives the scene more life. The star shine of the street lights is neat.

The light trails have some interesting effects. With your eyes you can't see, that the red backlights made of LEDs are flickering. But some of the red trails are dotted which is the result of a flickering light. The other interesting effect is that the light trails are curling their way through the buildings. This looks awesome.

The photo was taken with 18mm, f/8, 8sec and ISO 100.

On my way back home I noticed the brightly illuminated building on the opposite river bank and the great reflections on the water. I had to stop for a moment and start another photo session. First I wanted to only shoot the illumted building but then I noticed all the stars in the sky above and took another picture of the whole river bank.

Here is the mentioned building. In this scene not only the building is interesting. I like the lights along the bank and of course the reflections. Today it was quite calm and the river was very smooth. This gives beautiful reflections which are blurred a bit by the moving water. Looks great. The two people under the trees are sweet.

This one I shot with 55mm, f/5.6, 6sec and ISO 100.

The second photo shows the whole river bank. I tried to catch some of the stars in the sky, but this was not easy, due to the brightly illuminated buildings. If the stars were nicely visible the bank was too bright and if the bank had good light conditions most of the stars were dark. The photo here is the compromise. I used an aperture correction of -2 and with post processing the image I tried to brighten up the sky a bit. But it still looks quite dark.

The parameters of this photo are 18mm, f/10 (-2), 20sec and ISO 100.