Intentional Camera Movement

Intentional Camera Movement, popularly known as ICM, is a technique in which the photographer moves the camera in a planned way during a long exposure. The result is an image that’s intentionally blurred and that when well done can create an artistic rendering of a scene. I was recently introduced to the technique in my photo club and decided that it looked like an interesting way to make some different kinds of images.

With that in mind, I set up to create a few test images to see what I could achieve. I’ve posted some of my first photos below. All of these were made with a Nikon Z9, but frankly any digital camera can be used. The lens was a Nikon 24-70mm zoom lens, generally stopped down to a high f-stop number. Shutter speeds were in the 1/4 second to 2 second range. Because the sun was bright, I used a low ISO setting, usually 64, and added a 10-stop neutral density filter to cut down on the light so I could get acceptable exposures.

My first results, the best of the 150 or so that I shot, are below. See what you think.

I had a lot of fun making these images and I’ll be making more soon. In the meantime, I’m watching YouTube videos on the technique and making other studies to try to improve my technique. If I succeed, you’ll see more of my creations here in the future.

This was made in a bed of colorful coneflowers and zinneas. I panned the camera while the shutter was open to get this streaked effect. I took quite a number of shots to get this one, which I think was among the best.

This is the same flower bed, with the camera moved in a diagonal direction to get a different effect.

For this image, I rotated the camera in a semi-circular pattern.

Another streaked image with the camera shifted diagonally while the shutter was open. Because the exposure was short, the camera had to be moved quickly. I think I like this image the best among these streaked photos.

This stand of trees is in a woods not far from my home. To get this image, I shifted the camera from the roots to the treetops. This is a fairly classic kind of ICM image. I think it’s effective.

For this image, I started upward toward the top of the trees so there is little of the trunks showing. I also vibrated the camera during exposure, which resulted in the wavy lines of the green leaves.

Yet another tree photo. With each exposure, since the movement of the camera is not under strict control, different effects result each time.

Published by Norman Reid

I worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 27 years in the field of rural community and economic development. I retired a few years ago and have been devoting my time to photography and writing. I've been a semi-pro photographer for more than 25 years and sell my work on the Web. I live in rural Virginia not far from the Shenandoah Valley.

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