expert judged only
28 days
Andrew Robertson

Abstract ICM (Intentional camera movement)

In association with Formatt Hitech

Open Judging Results
Brief

Many photographic situations rely on keeping your camera as still as possible during exposure for pin-sharp images. You may have practiced hard to develop a steady hand and you’ve probably used tripods, remote shutter releases or image stabilisation to reduce the risk of camera shake. But, is keeping your camera still always a good thing? Every now and again, why not throw caution to the wind, move your camera while the shutter is open, and explore the range of creative opportunities this offers you as a photographer.

Click the 'Brief in detail' tab for the full brief from our judge, Paul Hamilton.

Expert judge Paul Hamilton's chosen winner will receive a Formatt Hitech Firecrest Pro 100mm ND 1.2 (4 STOP) Filter.

The brief in detail

Many photographic situations rely on keeping your camera as still as possible during exposure for pin-sharp images. You may have practiced hard to develop a steady hand and you’ve probably used tripods, remote shutter releases or image stabilisation to reduce the risk of camera shake. But, is keeping your camera still always a good thing? Every now and again, why not throw caution to the wind, move your camera while the shutter is open, and explore the range of creative opportunities this offers you as a photographer.

Intentional Camera Movement (or ICM for short) is a photographic technique where the camera is moved as the image is being taken. One example is panning left to right, horizontally and vertically, the camera movement mimics that of a moving subject to keep the subject sharp and the background blurred. However, moving your camera during exposure can open up a lot more creative options for you to try out. In particular, ICM can be used to take some truly unique landscape shots. The technique can be exceptionally liberating and, by reducing the amount of sharp details in a landscape, it allows you to concentrate on lines, form and colour in your images. A scene that you may ordinarily consider too cluttered, might just come to life through ICM by letting you blend colours and shapes for an interesting abstract shot.

One of the reasons that I have grown to love ICM is that it enables you to capture a landscape in a unique and personal way that cannot easily be reproduced. It can even breathe new life into overly familiar landscapes, letting you see and capture something new about a location you may have photographed many times before. If you are struggling to find inspiration for your next photographic project, or you want to get your creative juices flowing, this is a technique that you should try at least once. It is relatively easy to take some striking shots, you are sure to end up with a unique set of landscapes and it can also be a lot of fun.

A key factor to get right when using ICM is the shutter speed. It needs to be long enough to capture significant motion blur; anything from 1/4 to 1/2 second exposure times, up to multi-second exposures, I prefer personally longer exposures of 4 seconds to control the in camera movement more during handheld exposures, you can even go a step further and make double and multiple exposure with the ICM technique. Because of these slow shutter speeds, shooting in low-light conditions is ideal for ICM. During the daytime, it may be harder to achieve the required shutter speeds even at the lowest ISO setting and the smallest aperture (highest f-stop number). You may need to use a polarizing filter, a neutral density filter ND, or a combination of both. Personally, I prefer to use a polarizing filter as a starting point as this helps to boost colours and cut down on reflections and glare. I will then add a 2-stop or a 4-stop ND filter if the shutter speed needs to be slowed down any further.

When starting out with ICM, it may help to shoot in Shutter Priority Mode, although this is not essential. Set the shutter speed to around half a second to start, and turn the ISO to the lowest available setting on your camera. Once you have practiced at this shutter speed, you can then get longer exposure times by using a combination of low-light and/or filters. Focus manually and turn off the autofocus to prevent the camera searching for focus during exposure. Also, if you are using a lens that has image stabilization, remember to turn it off.

Once you have taken control of the shutter speed, how you move the camera is totally up to you. Get creative, there are no rules. You could move the camera vertically, horizontally, or diagonally – fast or slow. Alternatively, you could rotate the camera 360 degrees during exposure to create a spiral effect, or change the focal distance on a zoom lens during exposure to create a zoom effect. With practice, you can combine two or more of these movements to create something truly unique. The look and feel of your final images will be determined by the speed, direction, and smoothness of your chosen movements. If you wish, you can use a tripod to control the camera movement. This will help you to capture a smoother movement, which can be useful if you wish to retain a straight horizon line. I prefer to work hand-held when moving the camera, as it offers greater flexibility and provides more opportunities to experiment with different movements.

Bold movements can sometimes be more effective as there is a risk that too subtle a movement may end up looking like camera shake in the final image. Waving your camera around may not come that naturally, and it may result in you getting some funny looks from amused onlookers, but the end results definitely can make it worthwhile.

Prize details

Expert judge Paul Hamilton's chosen winner will receive a Formatt Hitech Firecrest Pro 100mm ND 1.2 (4 STOP) Filter.

How it works

This contest is expert judged only with no rating by the crowd. You will be able to find out how you did when the judging or rating period has closed.

Entries closed
4 August 2020

Judging
4 August 2020 to 13 August 2020

Winners announced
13 August 2020

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