Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)
The fascinating technique of ICM or blurring images in camera before post processing is gradually becoming an accepted genre of photography. It is practised by a few very accomplished professionals such as Michael Orton, Chris Friel and Doug Chinnery.
One of the most exciting aspects of the process is that it is in its infancy and therefore the possibilities haven’t yet been fully explored. Nature provides the canvas in the form of the landscape and you provide the brush, in the form of a camera, as an extension of yourself and your imagination.
Another very encouraging aspect, for the inexperienced photographer, is that the playing field at this juncture is still pretty level. By that I mean that for professional and experienced amateur photographers who are trying it out it is also a learning curve. As we all experiment nobody really knows yet where it will lead and how it may be applied in the future.
When I began I had been warned that most of the images captured would be dreadful and that I would be lucky to find 5 in 100 that were any good. So I was quite pleased to find 15 out of my first 100 that I quite liked considering I didn’t have much idea at the time. I must admit I have dumped a few of them since.
Here’s one example of a single image I created that worked well:
The hedgerow of blossoms I used as my canvas
The processed ICM image
The processed ICM image painted
Here is an example of how blended images in Photomatix Pro can turn out.
Blended and then processed in Lightroom 5
Then painted in Topaz Impression
And here is a collection of painted blurs
For best results watch video in FULL screen mode.
This collection is available in various prints, greeting cards and throw pillows from Fine Art America . It can also be customised to provide personalised unique prints.
However, while I would love you to buy my art, why not try for yourself and see what you can produce. I can assure you it’s great fun but warn you it can become addictive!!
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Basic Technique of capture
The basics of the technique are quite simple and require no technical knowledge as such. I have found that using the following as a ‘rule of thumb’ has produced some very good results for me so far.
- Low light –Early morning, dusk or a dull day are best
- Use a DSLR camera and shoot in RAW
- Set to manual – ISO 100 – F16 to F32 – Shutter speed 0.5 to 1 second.
- Fill the frame with the subject as much as possible to avoid cropping.
Experimenting with movement
I am still experimenting with all facets and encourage you to do the same. But particularly experiment with movement until, like riding a bike, it becomes second nature. Gradually you will find the movements that work well which you like and how fast or slow your movement should be in certain situations. Here are some of the moves you can make and build on, depending on your imagination and dexterity, which should be self-explanatory.
- Pan – Vertical, diagonal or horizontal
- Wave – Vertical, diagonal or horizontal
- Swirl – Keeping the camera horizontal and moving in a circular movement
- Twist – Twist the camera keeping as stable as possible
- Drawing – Pulling the camera away from the subject towards you
- Pushing – Opposite to Drawing
- Zoom – Keeping the camera steady zoom in or out (better) from the subject.
- Combine – When you become comfortable with singular movements you can try combinations.
Some of the above movements can be used with a tripod. Others obviously can’t. I find the freedom of no tripod suits me best generally.
It should be obvious when some images are useless but don’t be too heavy-handed when dumping stuff until you have processed a few hundred images. You never know what you may find.
What amazed me was the incredible hidden array of colours that nature served up when I opened up the RAW files I used to capture my first images.
Here are a few tips which you may find useful when deciding how best to process your RAW images.
- Start with processing a single image. I use Adobe Lightroom 5 as my starting point.
- Look at complimentary images and experiment by merging a few and see what you get. I use Photomatix Pro and often merge between 2 and 6 images. Don’t be concerned if they are no good. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Sometimes you’ll be amazed.
- I then come back to Lightroom and process the merged files.
- Finally, decide if your image may lend itself to an effects treatment such as you will find in Topaz Labs. Currently I am using Topaz Impression to create a collection of the Modern Abstract painted images for Wall Art you see in the slideshow above.
This is new so there are really no rules. However, don’t try and make something out of a poor image. We live in a digital age so every shot is free. So take as many as you like but be creative, think about what you would like to produce and as with your other photography make the best image you can every time.
Have fun and let me know how you get on.