PHOTOS: Metro Manila Traffic Captured via ‘Light Trails’

Metro Manila traffic is not foreign to us.

It happens almost every day. It instantly happens when rain pours, there’s a mall sale, a rally somewhere, or a vehicular accident. It happens almost any time of day.

Trying to capture the beauty in the chaos of Metro Manila traffic, Oliver Mercader had a project called “Light Trails”.

He told through an instant message:

I’m Mark Oliver Mercader, an Information Technology graduate, a photo enthusiast and an employee of the Sandiganbayan. Also, I’m currently a freelance landscape photographer of a trekking apparel which I am being assigned to different places in our country for documentation and to capture the beauty of it. My camera gears are Canon 5D Mk. II, Canon 600D and Canon 17-40mm f/4L. One of the reasons why I love shooting light trails at night is because it makes the city come alive.

As the traffic situation in the Metro Manila is getting worse, I still managed to make an art of it. Even at worse or poor circumstances, we can still make beauty come out from it. What attracts me to long exposure photography is that this field takes time to be fully mastered and I love to explore not just the simple and basic technicalities but also the heart of it. With a tripod, remote shutter release [Optional. (prevents vibration when taking photos under long exposure)], and dslr camera that allows you to play around in manual mode, you’ll be ready to capture some of the most colorful and lively images you’ve ever seen. I always love to shoot at footbridges or any higher place for this will give you a nice vanishing point of light trails.

Find a spot where you can capture opposite lanes of traffic so you get both red and white light trails and it is much better if two colors are overlapping. I love shooting at places with busy junctions and intersections for this will produce a large amount of light. Make some test shots first on how the light trails will look by the way the traffic is moving. First, set your ISO level to 100. A good starting point for measuring the length of exposure is to time how long it takes for a number of cars to pass through the scene, then set your shutter speed to this time. The longest shutter speed of a dslr camera may reach up to 30 seconds but I can manage to get up to 2 minutes (120 seconds) if I want to capture the effects of the light trails on different directions of a busy intersection. I always keep my aperture set to f/18 to f/22 for this will give me a bursting effect of the lights on lamp posts and most importantly, to keep the photo very sharp.

I want to pursue my passion to inspire people, and to show them this amazing thing that we do. I just want to see a smile on their face. I, too, struggled into photography at first. I did not do it by taking just one single photograph. I took hundreds. I took the same shot over and over with minor variations; a little more light, a little less light; a low angle, high angle. Vertical and horizontal. You’ll get the idea. I always offered much time in travelling for I really love to take photographs for it gives me a greater peace of mind.

Here are the photos he took:

Light Trails (5) Light Trails (10) Light Trails (8) Light Trails (11) Light Trails (9) Light Trails (7) Light Trails (6) Light Trails (4) Light Trails (3) Light Trails (2) Light Trails (1)

What do you think of these photos?