5 Spots for Capturing Epic Light Trails in Tokyo

5 Spots for Capturing Epic Light Trails in Tokyo guide book for photography in tokyo

Light trails are an amazing way to create a dynamic image with a lot of movement. And especially in a metropolitan city like Tokyo, it is perhaps the best way to capture the essence of the neon lit city. Although the colors you see walking on the streets of Tokyo might be duller compared to other major cities of the world, but because there is a lot of movement in Tokyo incorporating the lights trails can really bring the picture to life. Light trails are a great way to add some ‘‘wow’’ factor to the urban photography you will do in Tokyo. The trails of cars combined with the neon lights of the city can portrait the rhythm of life in large cities in your pictures. Here are some awesome spots to capture movement via light trails in your pictures.

shinagawa rainbow

Located near Shinagawa station this spot is a bridge that runs over several train tracks. Because Shinagawa station is a huge transit station there are many train lines that go through here. Making the area near Shinagawa an amazing spot to capture trains and their light trails. This spot especially is unique cause it has a separate line above the multiple lines below, meaning you can capture light trails coming towards you in two directions which will result in a very dynamic picture. Remember for light trail photography you are capturing movement and brining in life into the image. If you stand at a corner and take a picture this results in an epic picture. The above and below pictures are composites of the trails captured within 30mins.

We stumbled upon this spot while walking on the southern west side of Tokyo. Mounting the Gorillapod on to the railing, we took several pictures and composed them into one. You will need to wait at least an hour for all the tracks to get lit up by the passing trains.

The hydra

We named this spot the Hydra after the dragon with multiple heads in Greek mythology. With so many cars and people congested into a small space, Tokyo has a system of chaotic highways that twist and twine with each other. This is one of the spots that can result in a dynamic image. It is a junction that intersects several roads coming into the city. The junction itself is within the city center so it has an easy access. Apart from the curving concrete lines, there are many lights in various colors under and around the roads which makes this picture so dynamic. Be careful when standing up your tripod because there is not a lot of space on the pedestrian footpath. It will be easier to use a Gorillapod or any other smaller tripods you can attach to the railing.

This epic junction is best to see with your own eyes rather than reading about it. Try counting the number of lights placed in this junction.
This epic junction is best to see with your own eyes rather than reading about it. Try counting the number of lights placed in this junction.
Mounting your Gorillapod onto the rails of the pedestrian path, tilt the camera upwards from the ground for a more dynamic shot.
Mounting your Gorillapod onto the rails of the pedestrian path, tilt the camera upwards from the ground for a more dynamic shot.

The immortal bridge

Like warping into the city, the boats on this river leave a colorful light trail behind. This picture was taken on clear sky just after sunset. To capture as many light trails as possible from the boats you should dedicate at least 12 hours to this spot. The boats move slow and on some days the boats are scarce.

Light trails can be captured of any moving object with a light. Typically people capture lights emitted by trains or cars, but often forgotten are boats. We named this spot immortal because the name of the bridge in Japanese means immortal. It is a bridge located comparatively away from the city center making it ideal to take pictures of the city’s skyline from afar.

This spot is very famous for a lot of instagrammers and photographers. It is a perfect spot to test your long exposure techniques but also your patience. The above image is a composite of several light trails made by moving boats. Because the boats move very slowly you will need to wait a couple of hours easily to capture enough light trails. You will be taking the picture on a bridge and can set up your tripod and wait for the boats to pass by, one by one. When coming here to take a picture of the boat’s light trails make sure you have sufficient time on your hands as this location demands time.

The green tea trail

Merely incorporating light trails into your pictures is not in itself the way to capture a great picture. Another important factor is the background and how layered the picture is. As seen in the above picture, the picture compromises of several layers. The train track running towards the viewer, the water and the second train track on the left, the houses by the river and at the very end the skyscrapers. Having multiple layers adds depth to the picture.

This spot is one of our favorites and is a unique spot to capture the trains because one of the train tracks runs diagonally over water. You can have the city buildings, canal and trains in one frame making this a dynamic spot to take picture especially at night. Not all the trains have the perfect color for light trails so you will have to wait for a red train or a yellow train to pass by to create a picture like above.

The colorful palette cast in the background by the buildings, the small cozy neighborhood in the middle and the dynamic light trails in the forefront makes this image a delight to look at. The spot has a canal running downstream whilst two train tracks zigzag by it.

the ginza red and white

One the best ways to capture light trails is to position your camera in a way so that all the light trails go in one direction. This captivates the viewers eyes and guides the viewer into the frame. Like the above picture, the lights emitted by the cars are guiding the viewer’s eye towards the center of the picture.

This picture was taken on a pedestrian bridge in slightly away from the main Ginza area. Because the pedestrian bridge is wide it is easy to set up your tripod without hindering the path for other people. Both a wide angle and a telephoto lens work great here. It is a great place to capture the hustle bustle and the speed that the city offers.

Use a telephoto (70-200mm) lens to get the shiny details of the city and of this under-pass. Tokyo at it’s best.
Use a telephoto (70-200mm) lens to get the shiny details of the city and of this under-pass. Tokyo at it’s best.
A nice vantage point where you have the buildings lined up in perspective and are able to get the shot from right in the middle of a busy road.
A nice vantage point where you have the buildings lined up in perspective and are able to get the shot from right in the middle of a busy road.

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5 Spots for Capturing Epic Light Trails in Tokyo instagram picture guide book for photography in tokyo location
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