Monday, September 21, 2015

Intentional Camera Movement

I recently wrote an article for the CM Notebook.
Today, I'm going to reprint it with a collection of ICM images ~

Intentional Camera Movement

You've probably spent months perfecting the ability to get tack sharp focus in your photos.
  While this is an admirable and important skill to have in your photography tool box,
 today we're going to throw sharp focus out the window, so to speak.

In the spirit of having fun, let us now play with "ICM", Intentional Camera Movement.
 ICM is freeing - no photography police looking over your shoulder
or need for perfectionism here.
 ICM is about embracing blur, experimentation, impressionism, and maybe even abstraction.
  With this blur and impressionistic representation of our world
also comes the added possibility for engaging subjective emotion and viewer interpretation.  

Just like play, ICM doesn't come with a whole bunch of rules or technical directives,
 but there are a few elements for us to consider.
 Basically, ICM depends upon two main ingredients,
 slow shutter speeds and camera movement.

Slow Shutter Speeds

A slow shutter speed allows us to record camera movement,
 something we typically try to avoid, thus softening, duplicating, and blurring form.
 The easiest way to get slower shutter speeds is to choose a small aperture -
 high f/stop number, such as f/20 or f/22.
 You'll also want to start with your lowest ISO setting.

Alternately, you may decide to add a polarizing or neutral density filter.
  Besides slowing your shutter speed, with the polarizer or ND filters you should have
 the opportunity to use a bit wider aperture which will affect the recorded depth of field.
  You'll also find low light situations (dawn, dusk, dim interiors) can provide
 some ready-made slower shutter speeds, too.
 As a final shutter speed note, in looking at ICM artists around the web,
their slow shutter speeds generally ranged from about 1/4 second to 4 - 5 seconds.

Camera Movement

Next, let's look at camera movement.  How many directions can you move your camera?
  Let's see....sideways/horizontally, up and down/vertically, angled/diagonally,
 all around/curves-circular, and away from or towards your body.
 Plus, with an extended shutter speed like when using Bulb Mode,
you'll be able to walk around with your camera while the shutter stays open until you close it.
 That's a lot of possibilities with many different resulting looks.
  This is where experimentation becomes a necessity.
  Thank goodness for digital cameras!

Regarding camera movement, I've found it's often successful to mirror
 the dominant directional form of the subject with your camera movements.
 Thus, with trees use vertical camera movement, on a lakeside view
 use horizontal movement, angled foliage calls for diagonal movement, etc.
 Also, remember that if you're on the faster end of the slow shutter speed spectrum,
your camera movements may need to be quicker/faster.

ICM Tips

In my ICM journey thus far, I don't have any no-brainer prescriptive formulas for you to use,
 but I have learned a few things along this path.

*Design framework/composition is just as important in an ICM image
 as it is in a sharply focused photo.
 Look carefully for leading lines plus interesting tonal and color arrangements,
 along with variety in subject shape and size.

*Some ICM artists shoot in Aperture Priority Mode,
 but I often use Manual Mode and Live View, hand-held.

*Bulb Mode can be helpful in ICM work,
 as well as Continuos Shooting Mode (Canon).

* You'll need to take LOTS of images to get a few "keepers".
The Erase Button is your friend!

* Subject movement can add another dimension of movement to your image
 and can be a perk - think wind or moving humans, animals, etc.

* Smooth camera movements often work best,
with a gentle movement towards or away from the subject
creating the subtlest ICM-look.

* Be bold and experiment!
  Take a few shoots, review, analyze their success (or lack thereof)
 adjust your movements or camera settings, repeat-repeat-repeat.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy the process!!!


  1. You've definitely been enjoying yourself here, Anna! ICM can be fun to do and sometimes something astonishing appears! Thank you for the tips of how you achieve your captures. My favourites here are number one becasuse of the lighting and the circular shape which leads us into the image, number three because of the way you've worked the shapes and the colour, and number nine of the green leaves giving a feeling of
    strong winds and rain and I like the harmony in the movements!
    I hope that your autumn will be beautiful, Anna, - it's such a beautiful time for photography!

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts, Sandra! I always enjoy hearing which pieces speak to you and why. We're already seeing quite a bit of color outdoors. I agree, autumn is a wonderful time to enjoy nature!

  2. I love shooting ICM photography. Very informative article and lovely images.

    1. Thanks, Jen! I do enjoy the look and mood that ICM brings to images, glad you have fun with the technique too :)

  3. I love these, Anna! ICM is so satisfying on so many levels. Thank you for celebrating it!

    1. Thank you, G! So lovely to see you here, as I was just thinking about you recently. I definitely concur about ICM - it has so much to offer artists. Happy autumn to you!