Night Photography: Zooming During Time Exposures

Night Photography: Zooming
During Time Exposures

by: Jeff Wignall
Jeff Wignall

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I am a writer and photographer and the author of a number of how-to books on photography, including my most recent bestselling book Exposure Photo Workshop that was published by Wiley Publishing as a part of the very popular Photo Workshop Series.
If you're looking for a fun way to add a twist to your night shots, consider the old "zooming" technique that was so popular back in the film SLR days. It's a simple technique and with digital, of course, you can see the results of your experiments right away.

I shot this last summer in Times Square around midnight on a Saturday night. I used a zoom lens (18-70mm Nikkor) and rested the camera on a construction barrier while I zoomed the lens (tele-to-wide) for about a half second at f/13. You can really vary the effect by changing the speed of the "racking" of the zoom and whether you start at the tele or wide range (for some reason that makes quite a difference). Also, if you pause or jiggle the camera, you can get some cool effects. Yes, this is about a 1968 effect :) but it's still fun, especially when you have a subject like Times Square. I talk a lot about shooting at night in my new book Exposure Photo Workshop (Wiley) that has just been released.