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When a Blurry Picture Says More

There was a time when a picture that wasn’t sharper than a tack ended up in my trash bin. That was long ago. Now, I make them that way on purpose.

Photographers refer to it as ICM (Intentional Camera Movement). It simply means you deliberately move the camera when the shutter is open. But it takes a fair bit of practice and there are lots of failures for the few that turn out well. That’s probably why we seldom used this method in the film days.

You may wonder WHY would you do that? Great question. There are two types of images you can create with this method. One is an impressionistic version of the scene before you. The other is an abstract image. In the words of a landscape painter, C. W. Mundy, The power of the suggestive is much greater than the statement of reality.  

Recently, I was asked to give a Zoom presentation to a group of photographers on this topic. It was great because it forced me to go through my images and select the ICM photos that I liked and thought would be good examples. I also made a short video explaining my technique which I’ll include at the end.

So here are a few of my favourite ICM images, in various categories.

In the Forest

The movement of the camera creates an impression of this forest, almost as though Emily Carr herself sat there with her paintbrush.
The beauty and texture of the forest, with the dappled light shining through, becomes a study of texture, lines and movement.
A grove of Alder trees, without foliage, become a pattern of lines while the colours of the forest floor show through.
A forest grove in the tall grass on Gabriola Island takes on a whole new look as the sun peaks through.
A cedar forest, with its autumn litter, is divided by a back lane.
Beautiful cedar, dancing in the breeze.
An autumn tree stands out among its peers.
It’s autumn and the leaves are falling.

In the Garden

My wife’s work with flower pots does not go unnoticed.
These remind me of butterflies but it is a clump of Trilliums, which turn pink in their later stages.
Who doesn’t love tulips in Spring? These were growing under a tree in our yard.
An impression of the tulips in our back yard.
Spring beauty.

In Nature

Fairy Dust: sunset on a beach created these addictive colours with the fairy dust provided by lights in the distance.
A flock of birds make their way across the sky.
With spring just around the corner, these trees dance with joy.
A cluster of Foxglove create a beautiful pattern of colour.

Abstracts

I was astounded when I saw the blue in this image. I was photographing a decaying old cedar stump. The blue came from a patch of fungus growing on it. Amazing colours from the forest on a winter day!
When I travel with my wife, she inevitably finds a rack of scarves to look at. I’m always happy because they make great photo subjects. And usually, she decides she already has enough scarves!
These two images were scarves on display in Arles, France.
This always reminds me of cigarette smoke but it was graffiti on a wall in France.
What do you do while waiting at the airport? I wander with my camera and find amazing light and shapes.
In France, we visited an incredible silk factory that used equipment from the 1800s. Incredible memories and beautiful silks. See where this came from.
The city at night takes on a whole new look when the camera moves.

For Photographers

Intentional Camera Movement is a technique that is not hard to do and you need no special equipment to do it. All cameras are capable. I encourage all my students to try it.

To see a demonstration of the technique, click below.

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