Time lapse videos have always fascinated me, particularly the ones showing traffic (like this one). These types of videos give the impression of incredible speed, even if the cars aren’t going that fast. To capture the essence of a time lapse video in one still photo is easier than you think; generally all you need is a decent camera, a tripod, and some traffic. But it’s also almost impossible to know exactly what you’re going to get. With long exposures you generally have to open the shutter and then figure out what photo you took. To get an interesting photo that’s more than just lines, you have to get lucky.
Take Kevin’s photo above. First there is the standard white/yellow colored headlights from oncoming traffic, giving the sense of movement. But what is that blur of multi-color in the middle? It’s a bus, with it’s front displays causing that play of light. Notice how the greenish-yellow coloring slowly fades as the position of the bus changes, relative to the camera. It’s the same with the red highlight lights, where they suddenly come into existence and just as suddenly stop. I can bet Kevin didn’t know exactly what he was going to get when that bus showed up along Pennsylvania Ave, but I’m also sure he wanted it in this shot.