99 West

As every married member of the male human population certainly knows, marriage puts some occasional but very welcome (yes, The Wife will be censor-reading this) demands one one’s time. These demands make it difficult for part time photographers to dedicate the time they would like to photography. As I belong to the above category (married part time photographer with a day job) I am trying to find interesting ideas for photographs under the following conditions:  they can be implemented out of office hours, or at weekends and are close enough to my house so that I can “get in, shoot and get out” within a couple of hours (dear NSA proof reader; I really am writing about photography here. Nevertheless, please feel free to read on and follow this blog). One such idea that I recently had, was to find a highway heading south-west with an overhead bridge, which would allow me to photograph the highway at sunset with the car-light trails leading into the setting sun.

I have posted about an unsuccessful attempt some time ago (here). Last weekend I found another location that filled the requirements and went there on time for sunset. This was a bridge over a highway in the outskirts of Munich. The road at that location is heading southwest and during this time of the year the sun sets exactly overhead. For those of you that would like to know exact sunrise and sunset angles I can recommend a very nice free software called Photoephemeris (it can be found here).

A99 West Munich sunset

This one looked promising and I chose to process first.

I arrived about an hour before sunset and set up the gear. I photographed from one location until the sun set, experimenting with slightly different shot angles and zoom settings. In most cases I took several bracketed shots, which I merged to HDR later. The scene in general has a lot of potential and depending on exact location, conditions and available lenses I think a lot of spectacular photos can be taken. In this case the sky was a bit cloudy and relatively hazy, which gave me a spectacular scene but obstructed the mountains in the distance. On a different day with a stronger zoom lens I might have a less interesting sky but a beautiful mountain range in the background. Then again, a zoom lens would compress the highway and the sense of depth would have been lost. For the above photo I merged 5 exposures choosing the middle one for ghost removal. The choice was made based on which one gave the best car trails on the highway. The problem was that the chosen exposure had a very strong reflection on a truck roof which was difficult to get rid of. So after tonemapping, I made another HDR, this time choosing another bracketed shot for ghost removal, which didn’t have the reflection and then I merged the two tonemapped images.

After the sun set and it grew darker, I focused on light trails. I moved to the centre of the highway because I liked the rail separating the two highway directions and started shooting. The biggest concern I had was that I couldn’t decide where I should put the horizon. Should I include a horizon at all? I took several photos and after examining them at home decided I like this one more than the rest:

A99 West Light trails

Decided to include some horizon after all.

Unfortunately, this shot doesn’t have a lot of light trails on the right hand side. Alternatively I had this next shot, which has a lot more red light trails but no horizon:

A99 West Light Trails - Munich

The light trails are fine here but I miss the horizon.

It was fairly easy to combine the two photos by overlaying the extra red light trails from the second image to the first one with the horizon:

A99 West Light trails

OK, now we have it all; light trails and horizon.

These are nice, but would have been much nicer if the road had some curvature instead of being so straight. Maybe google maps will reveal an even better location for this kind of shot. So there you go, a spectacular setting just a few minutes from home. All in all, a good, short photo outing.

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