While visiting Italy in July 2019, I decided to make Atrani my base for three nights. Why Atrani? It’s a beautiful town, and just a few hundred meters away from the much more popular Amalfi. While Amalfi is overrun with people, Atrani is much calmer. I wanted to find some nice vistas in Atrani where I could photograph the church and town at sunset or during the blue hour.
On my last day, I climbed up about 500 steps above the town, eventually reaching another small town named Castiglione. It was about 90 degrees with 75% humidity, I was soaked in sweat. However, the view from the small plaza in front of the church in Castiglione was perfect for a light trail photo. As cars came down the coastal road, they would brake, and the lights would flow around the church. I decided to come back around sunset.
Later that evening, I climbed back up the steps, and set up my tripod. As the sun went down, I timed the cars as they entered my camera’s viewfinder. It took about 30 seconds for them to move through the composition. I set the camera for a 30 second exposure, and waited until it got darker. These photos don’t always turn out — cars drive too fast, too slow, stop, turn, or otherwise do unexpected things that mess up the light trails. So it’s important to keep trying. I watched for headlights coming into the frame from the bottom right, and then released the camera shutter hoping the car would travel through the entire frame within 30 seconds. I took a couple dozen photos, and I think this one is the best:
There were a couple of cars and mopeds that formed these light trails. They were all moving away from me — no oncoming cars with white headlights. Another segment of the coastal road is at the top, and that segment has both headlights and tail lights.
There’s a bit more of a “back story” to this photo. When I arrived at the plaza to take the photo, a church service was just letting out. I was hot, tired, and really just wanted a peaceful hour or so to take the photo. That was not to be! It turned out that a small festival was to be held that night, in the same plaza. A sound system was set up. Many more people arrived. Food was delivered. Shortly, a party was going on just a few feet behind me! Not the quiet night I had expected. I’m sure they thought I was strange, focused so much on my camera!