Pulling light out of what would otherwise be a stationary light source is one of my all-time favourite photographic techniques and one that I am amazed not to see more of. I read about it in the book that came with my original Sony A7. I still have that camera, and it takes excellent photos.
Before I go further, I will add that the photo shown here is available on my site as a free download. Simply follow this link.
To take a photograph like this, you need a few things:
*A lens with a range something in the 24-70mm range. At some point, the weight of the lens will work against you. The lens also needs to be as smooth as possible. Shake is your enemy here.
*A very sturdy tripod. Repeat; shake is your enemy
*Remote trigger, you will cause shake when you depress the shutter manually.
For the settings, you experiment with something like the following: 2-second shutter, but longer is often good and shorter rarely is in my experience. ISO 100, f9-11, or so.
Now let’s shoot: Having found an attractive light source, like a neon sign or building, you think has enough points of light to pull out into streaks. Set up on your tripod, ensure the camera is very securely mounted and frame up tight on the subject. Once you are happy, fire your exposure and while the exposure is happening, draw the focus out and go wide. This action will bring the light out of windows or any other strong lights forward in a brilliant streak.