In photography, when dealing with low light situations beyond your control, you want to not only open up your camera's aperture, but also slow down your shutter speed, allowing your camera to take in more light for a brighter, more discernible image.
Basically, slow your camera down, and it will able to process the image you need to see.
Pretty much what low light riding conditions look like.
When dealing with daily commute traffic to and from work on my motorcycle, my best defense is a steady offense, so my modus operandi as a moto-commuter has always been to be moving just slightly quicker than the speed of the traffic around me. This minimizes my need to account for what’s going on behind me (i.e. the number of motorists coming up on me), allowing me to simply focus on what’s ahead. After all, it is much simpler to deal with motorists you’re coming upon, as opposed to vice versa.
That’s of course an easier m.o. done with daylight than without, and now that I’m back to giving night riding another go around after many years of leave from it, I’ve found that the first thing my instincts have forced me to do in adapting to the low-light riding conditions is to slow down just a tad. While I am still generally traveling at a rate of speed that allows me to be doing most of the passing, I’ve turned it down a notch, just to allow myself the time to process everything around me for clearer visual information that I can react to as needed.
In low light situations, our eyes actually adjust to adapt to the surrounding light, or lack thereof; our pupils get wider in the dark, kind of like the aperture in a camera shooting a dimly lit subject. And so in conjunction and again much like a camera, I give myself the time to soak in the surrounding images by slowing down the shutter – myself.
You slow things down enough, and they’ll be easier to see, even at night.
This isn’t new territory to me, just another practice I’ve long not practiced so it does feel a little like re-learning something I’ve already learned. I imagine there are a number of other riding principles I’ve learned years ago to help me deal with night riding that I haven’t had to use until now, so I hope to chronicle them as I take notice.
The other benefit to going a little bit slower on the motorcycle than I normally do is it actually affords me the time to notice the things I do on my bike that I usually don’t take notice of.
Things just seem clearer when I slow my (shutter) speed.