Photography Project: Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)

1311_MFA_Napa_103-EditI just love it when there is an acronym for specific types of rule-breaking.  This is week 5 of my Visual Toolkit adventure, and it was all about moving the camera during exposure.  I must have taken hundreds of photos, and at one point, Peter gave me the “2-minute” warning as if I was a 5-year old that couldn’t be cajoled away from playtime to get back into the car.

So moving your camera during exposure involves a lot of options.  Instead of showing you an assortment of different subjects, I stuck with one so you can see the effects of different camera movement.  These pictures are taken of a peach orchard in the fall from the exact same spot.

Photo capture

  • Small aperture, small ISO to get the lowest shutter speed possible.  Most of the photos below were taken on a bright sunny day around 1/4 of a second.
  • Polarizer.  This will help slow down your shutter speed
  • Timer.  I set my camera on two-second timer; this allowed me to start the camera movement before the shutter opened. Otherwise it would have happened to fast.
  • Slow and steady for the movement.  You don’t want to swipe too big or too fast or you will lose all sense of what the subject is.
  • Tripod.  This is not a “must-have”.  I used it to save my tired arms after the 250th shot.

Movement:  Follow-the shape of the subject.

For the trees, I tried vertical movements to mirror the long trunks.


Movement:  Diagonal

To add a more dynamic feel, I then started to move the camera on a slight diagonal.


Movement:  Camera Shimmy

With the camera on a tripod, I shimmied it slightly.  It almost gives you a ghostly image where the trees show underneath the movement.


There are infinite ways to move the camera (figure 8’s, swoops, curves, etc).  Be watchful of bright or unwanted areas that enter into the frame because of the movement.

One Comment

  1. Anonymous

    Well done, with plenty of practice you finally produce one that looks surreal. Always enjoy ready your blog, maybe I’ll run into you in 2014 and do some shooting with you both.

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