Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) is an abstract style of photography where the photographer deliberately moves the camera during the exposure to create an impressionistic interpretation of the landscape. Instead of taking a sharp photograph, you are effectively painting with your camera-nature provides the colors, textures, and interest, and the sensor becomes your canvas. This is a very subjective technique and you will either love or hate the results. Your assignment here has no rules-there is no definitive right or wrong, you simply need to capture an image that you like.
Shutter speed is the key to success here. Typically, an exposure length of 1-2 sec. works well, but experiment with different shutter speeds until you identify one that works best for you. To achieve an exposure of this length, select a low ISO and a small aperture.
Once you have identified a subject, begin slowly panning the camera-vertically or horizontally, depending on the type of scene-and then gently trigger the shutter while continuing to pan in one smooth, flowing motion.
Be patient-it can take countless attempts to get a photo you like. Different types of movement will yield very different results. Although dragging the camera vertically or horizontally is most popular, rotating the camera or moving it back and forth during exposure can also produce eye-catching images.
The most important thing with this assignment is to have fun experimenting!
View the images
- Select a shutter speed of about 1 sec. and then move the camera during the exposure.
- Look for scenes with strong, recognizable shapes, colors, and contrast-trees work well, as can cityscapes, sunrises and sunsets, and beach scenes.
- You can use any focal length, but a short telephoto in the region of 60-100mm is often a good choice.
- Pan the camera smoothly. If you are struggling to do this handheld, use a tripod.
- You may need to attach a solid neutral density (ND) filter to artificially prolong exposure length.
- This can be a very hit-and-miss style of photography and you may need to make many attempts before you achieve the level of motion and effect you desire.
- Neutral density (ND) filter