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Long Exposure Street Photography (Capture Epic Light Trails)

Mohit is a photographer from Toronto who was kind enough to share their perspective and experience on capturing long exposure light trails. All Photos by Mohit Pradhan.


A lot of photographers think that long exposure photography is difficult. Apparently, it’s one of the easiest genres of photography. A tripod, a basic understanding of the exposure triangle, and a camera with Manual settings are good enough to start clicking long exposures. Clicking light trails from the passing cars and buses gives a very unique perspective to the cityscape. Long exposures of landscapes, cityscapes and the night sky portray them in a visual which is impossible to perceive with the human eye.


I started photographing long exposures on my mobile phone using the “Pro/Manual” mode in which I could control the Shutter and ISO. Mounting the phone on a tripod I began clicking photos of moving objects. Cars, buses, trains, and streetcars are great to begin with, since they usually follow a predictable path giving you a good composition with leading lines.

Caption: Long Exposure photo at Canadian National Exhibition Princes’ Gates by Mohit Pradhan (click to open in lightbox)

The above photo was clicked on a Canon EOS M50 mirrorless camera using the below settings:


Camera: Canon EOS M50
Focal length: 15mm
ISO: 100
Shutter Speed: 15 sec
Aperture: f20


Exhibition Place is a great location with a lot of good light focused on architectural gate. Getting a proper exposure is a bit tricky here since you won’t capture enough light trails if the shutter speed is too fast. Conversely, if the shutter speed is too slow the architectural gate will be over-exposed.

In order to get decent light trails, I set the shutter speed to 15 secs and kept the aperture very small to f20 so that the architecture is not overexposed while capturing the perfect amount of light trails. You need to find the right balance of shutter speed and aperture to get the perfect exposure with the desired effect. I always keep the ISO to the minimum while clicking long exposures.

Pro Tip: Use a tripod and set a self-timer of 2 to 5 seconds to avoid camera shake.


Hope this is useful to you. Whether you shoot with a pro DSLR or a smartphone, use a tripod and the correct settings and you will get some amazing long exposure photos.

Here are a few more of my favourite shots (these were taken with Canon M50 and t6i)

Happy trails!  (Pun intended!)

– Mohit

Follow the artist on Instagram @mohi_t.o

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