To deliberately blur ones photos goes against every single thing that photographers learn when they come up through the ranks to join the elitists who can take tack-sharp, in focus photos, which I think is the root of the problem in that making the same kind of photo time and time again fails to become challenging.
I guess that may be a source of comfort to many, especially aviation photographers, whose only desire is to record what they have seen but to me I like to try something different, to learn something new and to that end I read an e-magazine called The Photograph published by Craft and Vision. Here I discovered the technique called ICM, Intentional Camera Movement, where one deliverately moves the camera as the exposure is being made to blur the resultant image creating some wonderfully abstract images of some very commonplace things.
I needed out, I have been spending too much time in the house, I mean it was almost an our!
The only known cure for what I had was some photo-therapy and to that end I grabbed by trusty old Canon 5D and fitted the 50mm f1.8 lens and off we went for a walk in the woods. These days I prefer the standard lens in preference to a zoom, I have a zoom for the 5D but that’s not much more than a glorified body cap to keep the dust out.
The Standard lens also gives one the ability to zoom with ones feet, move around to get the composition. Zooms can make you lazy, making you settle for the first composition that comes your way, with a standard lens you have to look for that composition.
Anyway, after the second shot of the day, which was to set the exposure. Incidentally, I have this “thing,” I’m sure that it’s a trick from the old days where one meters off ones hand, that’s a skin tone, which is Zone VI (Ansel Adams stuff, you know old fart, big camera, shot a lot of big American landscapes) so the trees will be darker than that so open up a couple of stops and things should be OK… and generally it is. I’ll continually meter like this throughout my woodland walks making adjustments as the lighting conditions change. Like the Standard lens, you have to think your exposure through, rather than letting the camera do it for you. I suppose that it gives a whole new meaning to hand-made.
I digress, after I had set the exposure, I had the idea to change the Picture Style to Monochrome, instead of my usual Faithful. Usually I do the black and white conversion afterwards in Photoshop, I’m never a great fan of any in-camera picture styles but I though what the hell, it’s RAW anyway, which easily changed in Lightroom anyway, so I’ll give it a try… and from that point on things just snowballed.
It’s so trite to say that being able to see in monochrome was a revelation but it was and when coupled with ICM, wow it was like falling in love with photography all over again.
Just one thing, the photos do not seem to appear as sharp as they should do. You can see better if you click on the image to show it at it full size, without any compression, using your browsers back button to return to this blog post.
Fairly innocuous was this spot of sunlight on this single tree, which was followed by a conventional photo of a piece tree fungus
Next up was the Ditch… still waters run deep and I’d hate to find out how deep this piece of water is but the reflections have always captivated me and until now never quite been able to get the picture right in colour and now that water is like black glass.
Now things start rolling, rocking and just plain jerking with the ICM. This one was slightly de-focused and was created with an upward movement. Again a revelation, usually I focused first then moved the camera, de-focussing makes it even smoother.
This one was a rocking motion of the grass with some light shining through the trees for contrast. Look out Chris Friel, there’s a new boy in town! (Chris Friel is an inspiration for ICM and so if the ICM- Intentional Camera Movement Flickr Group
A variation on a theme was these small trees
Onto bigger stuff with the revelation that part of the a spinning ICM picture is more or less in focus, giving contrast to the abstract ICM.
I have been to this part of the woods before, the old raised bog is to the left with a manky ditch between the old and the new parts of the wood and it was seen in a new light, when….
I came back from the other direction…
The trees were backlit and I deliberately over exposed to top part of the picture giving it an ethereal look. The rim lighting on the fallen tree also helps.
Over exposing the background also helped with this one, there are a number of dead Scots Pines amongst the plantation, giving a contrast to the upright and regimented conifers.
This was something that I hadn’t done before, I metered off my hand in the sunlight and just used that for this exposure, capturing the light and the texture on the tree bark at the expense of everything else.
I used the same trick on this piece of shadow, the pattern and the texture on the ground that was important, with everything else being immaterial and under exposed.
I turned this picture on it’s head, giving a different slant to the picture, with a spot of ICM on a relatively fast shutter speed.
After all that, this post may seem like a load of pretentious crap and you could be forgiven for thinking that however I had fun making these pictures and that’s what it is all about enjoying what you do otherwise it would not be worth doing… but there’s one thing for sure….