Ongoing experiments in intentional camera movement as part of the learning journey

My daughter Jessica had asked for a camera to celebrate the arrival of her sister Sophie.  As she said; “Sisters are special.  Sisters can buy you ‘born gifts’.  I would like a camera.”  Being a soft touch, I complied and she’s making good use of a seemingly bombproof Nikon S33 – for example.

As she makes headway with that I’ve set myself the challenge of teaching her to shoot.  Moleskine/Milk have a neat promotion to offer a free photo book to Getty Contributors, and I thought I would use my free credit to create a “how to take photographs” book for Jessica.  In beginning the process of writing that book, I’ve been reminded of some of the reasons I shoot and – resonating with what I’ve taken from the inspirational David duChemin – have come to realise how much harder I could be pushing the envelope in terms of creative photography.

intentional-camera-movement-moon-spin (1 of 1)
Full moon and late autumn trees, 2 second exposure, spiraling movement

Intentional camera movement has stood out to me as part of that for a couple of reasons.

For starters, it offers benefits in terms of being an initially low pressure style of photography that can be practiced in brief moments, and is possible at night, without significant kit, whilst offering an infinity of new subjects within even a minute’s walk from the house.  I’m also enjoying the more poetic quest to shoot “how it feels” as outlined in this original post.  And I’m also seeing how intentional camera movement or ICM resonates with the core principal of my photographic style.

intentional-camera-movement-changing-leaves-birch (1 of 1)
Silver birch with mid-autumn leaves, 1.6 second exposure, jagged shake

More and more my literal photography is feeding my stock library at Getty Images.  There you’ll find those shots I consider well taken, technically sound images of scene or objects that I found interesting or thought might be salable.

The kind of photography I consider “mine”, and the kind of photography I’m trying to teach Jessica, is based on the idea of making the mundane appear fantastical.  So far that’s taken a couple of branches.

The first, and longest standing, is long exposure and light painting.  Shots like the following where by compressing time and adding light one can take a dull night scene and conjure something a little more magical, something one step left of reality.

 

The second path is one of shooting street portraits of strangers, usually with a dash of adding light from a reflector or strobe or more, with the aim of taking an average person from the street and elevating them to a Vogue style icon.

 

ICM seems to offer another path on that journey – expressing an element of fantasy from everyday scenes, like the trees above, or from leaves on a pavement/sidewalk.

intentional-camera-movement-circular-leaves (1 of 1)
Mix of leaves on hedge and sidewalk in rain with reflected headlights, single second exposure, horizontal looping movement
intentional-camera-movement-green-swirling-fall (1 of 1)
Streetlight on last leaves and white plastic bag caught in tree, 2 second exposure, held for a moment, then vertical drag and waving motion

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Apple tree at night, single second exposure, tight, rapid loops

Moonlight (Intentional Camera Movement), Ashridge Estate
Slightly out of focus trees at sunset, 1/4 second exposure, slow vertical sweeping movement

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Autumn beach leaves in sunlight, 1/5 second exposure, fast vertical sweep

intentional-camera-movement-v-shape (1 of 1)
Jessica’s first ICM shot, autumn trees in sunlight, 1/4 second exposure, 1/4 second exposure
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2 thoughts on “Ongoing experiments in intentional camera movement as part of the learning journey

    1. Thanks Colin! Shout me anytime you want to shoot long exposure or ICM around town! It could make for a fun after work photo-walk around Soho. For the 80% doing slightly mad, not desperately useful stuff, these odd experiments do seem to add an extra 10% of creating something unexpectedly interesting and 10% understanding all photography better, at a deeper level again.

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