Creativity Challenge #5 - Intentional Camera Movement

Number five of my 52-week Creativity Challenge - Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)

ICM is deliberately moving the camera during the exposure to create abstract images by blurring the subject. The challenge is controlling the amount of movement to blur the scene enough to make it interesting. The more movement, the more abstract the image becomes. 

There are NO correct or best settings for ICM. The amount of blur is determined by the amount of movement of the objects in the image relative to the field of view of the image. This is dependent on three factors: focal length of the lens, speed of camera movement and shutter speed. On a full frame 35mm body, a 14mm ultra wide-angle lens covers approximately 104°, while a 100mm lens covers just over 20°. If you move the camera 180° then a 14mm lens will move less than double it's field of view, a 100mm lens will move across nine fields of view so the same amount of camera movement will create almost five times the amount of blur with the 100mm lens.

Creating pleasing images is trial and error and each scene is different depending on the complexity of the subject. In my experience, the 'best' images are made when you enhance or exaggerate the natural lines in the scene, for example, horizontal panning works well in beach or other scenes with natural horizontal lines, vertical panning works well in forests with repeating vertical lines of tree trunks. The most interesting subjects (for me) are those with some texture that can still be detected in the blur, for example the sky, rocks and sea in the beach scene with horizontal panning below, have enough inherent texture and contrast to retain interest in the blurred image.

Horizontal panning 70mm, ISO 100, 0.6 seconds @ f/11

Horizontal panning
70mm, ISO 100, 0.6 seconds @ f/11

Similarly, the rough bark of the ironbark trees in the following image, from the forest near Point Addis in Victoria, is retained because of the relatively fast shutter speed and limited vertical panning movement during a relatively short exposure. Faster movement with a longer shutter speed would have blurred the bark too much for my liking but this is a matter of taste.

Vertical panning 58mm, ISO 100, 1/4 second @ f/11

Vertical panning
58mm, ISO 100, 1/4 second @ f/11

Where there are no obvious lines in the scene, panning will not produce the same effects. In these cases, try something different such as gently shaking the camera.

Camera shake 58mm, ISO 100, 0.3 seconds @ f/16

Camera shake
58mm, ISO 100, 0.3 seconds @ f/16

Rotating the camera can create interesting effects where there are random patterns of shape and colour, such as this image of crosses and leaves on the forest floor.

Rotation 58mm, ISO 100, 0.3 seconds @ f/16

Rotation
58mm, ISO 100, 0.3 seconds @ f/16

So, experiment with different sorts of camera movement and different combinations of lens focal length, shutter speed and amount of camera movement.

Check out the following video from my YouTube Channel where I talk through this in the field.

Please feel free to comment below. Constructive criticism and informed discussion are always welcome.

Next up
♠ 10 Ultra Wide-angle