How I did my photo for "Night Photography Contest"

The idea of my picture was to have three zones in the picture. The foreground, me, the dashboard and window of the car and the roadway and lights.

I wanted a blurred roadway and lights balanced on each side of the road. I wanted the dashboard and car interior be sharp and fairly well lit. The foreground, me, needed to be out of focus to provide depth to the image. If I was in focus then the image would have felt flat.

I set up my tripod in the back seat with my camera set ISO to 200 and white balance on auto. I used my widest lens , a 24mm and focused on the dashboard because it needed to be in the sharpest focus. I set the aperture to f8 to have sufficient depth of field for the road and lights.

I have an app for my Android tablet that allows me to use it as a remote trigger for my camera. I set it to give me repeated exposures of 5 seconds and started driving. After a few test shots I checked the exposure and historgrams. I quickly realized the hardest part was going to be to find a balance of external colourful lights on both sides of the road that also provided enough light to illuminate the car interior. I drove around Kemptville for about twenty minutes and ended up with ~150 images. I tried changing the aperture to f11@8 seconds and f16@10 seconds. These exposures were too long because the inevitable bump in the road would cause the interior to be too blurred.

I was able to discard all except 12 of the original ~350 images. From that I selected the one that had the best balance of exterior lights and interior lighting. I think its heading west at the intersection of the 43 and 44. The lights on the left are the Pioneer gas station and those on the right are from another vehicle stopped at the lights.

I used PhotoShop for post processing. I didn't bother with the white balance nor did I do much in the way of noise reduction. Most of the work was on brightening the interior with a some curves and a masks. I also tried to darken the tachometer and speedometer. In retrospect, I should have turned down their brightness before starting but I didn't. I had on planned on doing a reshoot but unfortunately was too busy to do so.