August 16th 2012 by Andrew S Gibson
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Thanks for reading! Andrew.
The phrase Intentional Camera Movement describes the technique of deliberately moving the camera during a long exposure to create blurred images. It may sound counter-intuitive, but a look at the work of photographers like Chris Friel, Doug Chinnery or David duChemin shows that it’s a valid technique for creating expressive images.
I’ve been playing around with ICM (as it’s also known) for a few months now with mixed results. But the other week I created my best ICM photos yet. The key seems to be to keep the composition simple, and to photograph a subject that’s easily recognisable even when it’s blurred. Shooting at dusk helps as the low light provides atmosphere. A hint of mystery doesn’t hurt either, here it’s supplied by the silhouetted island and the lighthouse that appear in the photos.
These photos were taken with shutter speeds of between 1/3 second and one second. I tried a variety of camera movements, some of them simple like panning horizontally, and some of them quite random. The most erratic camera movement when I photographed waves, as I sometimes had to step backwards rapidly to avoid getting my feet wet (it’s winter here and the water is cold!). This created an explosive element to the composition.
The camera’s LCD screen is invaluable for providing feedback and seeing how well the technique is working. I set the Picture Style to Monochrome, Contrast to +3 and Filter to Red to boost the contrast and help show me how the photos will look once processed. I used Raw, as always, for maximum image quality.
Like my wave photos, these were taken with my new EF 40mm f2.8 pancake lens. Again, there’s nothing in particular about this lens that made these images work, except the focal length. The moderate wide-angle (I used it on a full-frame camera) was ideal for these images.
If you’d like to learn more about Canon lenses, then take a look at my new eBook Understanding Lenses: Part I. It’s on special until the end of the month.