light trail

The Many Looks of the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego California Photo Story

The Many Looks of the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego California Photo Story

The Ocean Beach Pier Changes Day by Night

Over the course of seven days staying in the Ocean Beach community in San Diego, California I went to visit the Ocean Beach Pier several times. It looked and felt different each time. I was there for a brilliant sunset. I was there as a storm approached. I was there when the pier was nearly completely empty, and when it was filled with people. I met a pelican. I walked it, and I rode a Bird (electric scooter) down it. I listened to the stories the ocean whispered as it passed under and around the pier.

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Shinjuku Tokyo Japan light trails

The view I had walking home at night when I lived in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, Japan - Nikon D80 f/29 ISO 200 5 sec tripod mountedThis is a photograph from my archives, taken back in October of 2008 at the start of my DSLR shooting from when I lived in Tokyo, Japan.  I lived in the heart of the city, Shinjuku, and getting home required walking over a pedestrian bridge with a great view, day or night, but especially at night.  I brought my Nikon D80 with me and a tripod I had just bought allowing me to make light trail images like this one.  Note that the brake lights appear on the left side of the road, as Japanese drive on the opposite side to the U.S.

Bus Light Trail in St. Petersburg Florida Photography

Not a spaceship, but a double-decker bus all lit up - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 17.7 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseWalking back to my car after photographing New Year's Eve 2012 Fireworks in downtown St. Petersburg I saw a double decker bus making a very awkward 3-point-turn down the road.  I still had my Nikon on my tripod over my shoulder so I quickly set up on the curb thinking I had a rare chance to make a light trail photo with a tall, lit subject, not just the usual low cars.  

Fortunately, it was more of a 10-point-turn so I had plenty of time to get in position and even make a few test shots before opening the shutter for 17.7 seconds to capture the image above.  

St. Petersburg Florida Night Photography Lessons for tripod & 50mm lens

  • 1-on-1 photo lessons help you learn quickly
  • Every lesson is designed for your exact level
  • Learn to shoot at night in real conditions
  • Free social media sized digital portrait made of you by Jason
  • Lesson locations in St. Petersburg (others may require a fee)
  • 2-hour lessons available on weeknights starting at 6pm
CALL: 813-240-5357 E-mail: CONTACT FORM FACEBOOK



As the sun starts to set earlier, weekday evenings offer a fantastic opportunity to learn how to make photographs at night. 

Jason offers two types of night photography lessons:  using a tripod for long exposures & using a 50mm lens for low light. 

The 2-hour lessons are offered in the downtown St. Petersburg area on weeknights beginning from 6pm~ and feature 1-on-1 night photography instruction with Jason.  A DSLR is required along with either a tripod or a 50mm f/1.8 lens

Tripod rental is available. 

The lessons are open to any skill level, even total beginners!


Tripod night photography lessons will focus on how to make long exposures of the beautiful downtown St. Petersburg waterfront.  Using manual settings and bulb mode you will learn how to pull light out of the sky that the human eye cannot see.  Also, you can learn how to make light trail shots as cars streak past to create cool, urban shots.


You can use a 50mm f/1.8 (or f/1.4) lens at night without a flash to produce cool images featuring light bokeh, motion blur from passing cars and even night portraits!


 Lessons start at: 


Jason has taught over 300 one-on-one DSLR lessons!  - see blog


Jason has taught lessons to students with these DSLRs and more!

Nikon D4 Nikon D600 Nikon D700 Nikon D300s Nikon D7000 Nikon D90 Nikon D5100 Nikon D5000 Nikon D3000 Nikon D3100 Nikon D40

Canon 5D Mark III Canon 5D Mark II Canon 7D Canon 60D  Canon 50D Canon T4i Canon T3i Canon XSi Canon XTi Canon XT

Pentax K-R Pentax K-7

Sony A230 Sony A33

Olympus E-510

Jason also teaches how to edit digital photos on your own laptop - reserve now!


Daytime DSLR Photography Lessons also available on any subject more info

Panorama Tampa at Twilight Views from a Parking Garage

Downtown Tampa Panorama at Twilight Bird's Eye View - click for 1200px image - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/8 ISO 200 5 sec 3-frame panorama tripod mounted with cable release

It is hard to pry me out of St. Petersburg.  Thankfully, a new client hired me to make some images of Tampa for their new website giving me the opportunity to cross the Howard Frankland Bridge with my DSLR and tripod in tow.  Of all the photographs I took that afternoon and evening, in this post a selection of images taken all from the same spot atop a parking garage are featured.  I had never been to the top of this parking garage before.  I just stumbled upon it as I was searching for bird's eye vantage points of downtown Tampa.  It was a little hard to get into, as I had to risk walking up the narrow entrance ramp before I found an actual parking level that had elevators to the top.  I later found out the actual entrance is inside a building on the other side.  After walking the last three flights to the roof (the elevator I was in did not go to the top) carrying all my gear, I was glad I as always was properly attired with the best footwear possible.

University of Tampa from above at dusk with light trails - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/16 ISO 200 5 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseIt was a very unique feeling being alone on the top of that garage.  There were only two cars left parked on the far side from me.  It was after 5:30pm and everyone had already gone home for the day.  I felt like I was in a secret spot with a view of all downtown Tampa.  All this added up to a feeling of peace.  My Nikon D300 was on my Induro CT214 tripod, so I had no weight on my body from gear.  I could move about freely looking for shots.  At first there was too much light to make the light trail shots I wanted to, so I passed the time by observing and wondering.

Blue Skyscraper to Blue Infinity with Moon - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1.6 sec tripod mounted with cable release - lens correction in Photoshop CS5 to straighten buildingBehind where I knew I wanted to do most of my shooting stood a tall blue skyscraper trying to reach to the Moon.  I thought it interesting how the color of the building nearly blended in perfectly with the twilight sky.  I debated for awhile on which to include in this post, the lens corrected image you see above (building is straight) or the non-corrected one with the building bending inward appearing to reach for the heavens.  

Sykes Building Downtown Tampa Twilight - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/16 ISO 200 10 sec tripod mounted with cable releaseI really enjoyed being alone atop that parking garage waiting for the evening to transition from dusk to twilight.

Photograph the same subject during the day & at night

The Courtyard Marriott Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida: top in late afternoon, bottom at night after a rainstormThe client wanted both daytime and nighttime exterior shots of their hotel.  I shot the daytime one first.  Several days later I went to photograph the hotel at night, having to wait out a sudden rainstorm that sprang up as I was making the 5-minute drive from my home to the hotel!  The daytime image is a 7-exposure HDR image and the bottom is just a single long exposure.  

I did not make a shot from the same spot necessarily on purpose, but I am glad I did as it was a chance to see how a specific subject appears in a photograph in two totally different lighting situations.  So this photography tip is more like a photography project: 

  • Photograph the same subject during the day and then at night 

As you can see a hotel in a city makes for a pretty good day & night subject.  Anything that has cars passing in front of it or on it will allow for making a light trail long exposure night shot.  

Be sure and include a link to your day and night shot in the comments below. 

  • Read more photography tips
  • Reserve your own 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with Jason today!
  • Learn more about the lessons
  • The Pier Trolley warp through St. Petersburg

    On The Pier Trolley in St. Petersburg Florida - Nikon D300 with Tamron 17-50mm lens @ f/11 ISO 200 10 sec on Induro CT214 tripod with cable releaseThe results of this photograph were a complete surprise.  After the ten second exposure when the image popped up on the back of my DSLR I said, "wow."  I was in the middle of teaching a DSLR Photography Lesson at The Pier.  The student and I were up on the top of The Pier making long exposure night cityscape shots.  We came down to wait for the trolley and prepped to make light trail shots once we got back to Beach Drive where there were more cars.  While on the trolley I just casually stood my tripod up.  I decided to push the shutter on the cable release.  The above shot was the result.  

    Photography Tip:  make a shot when you would never think to

    If I had collapsed my tripod legs and had it and the camera leaning up against my shoulder as I normally would have when on the trolley, this shot would not exist.  If I had not thought, "what the heck, I'll just push the shutter and see what happens," there would be no shot like this.

    Now, on my own time I will return and take the trolley and on purpose try to make even better shots than this as I think the results are super cool and I am sure with a few improvements in technique and settings it can be done.  Once I do that I will post again detailing the technique I used.  I cannot wait! 

  • Read more photography tips
  • Reserve your own 1-on-1 DSLR Photography Lesson with Jason today!
  • Learn more about the lessons