Using Intentional Camera Movement in Woodland

Woodland photo captured using intentional camera movement
Intentional Camera Movement creates a lovely dreamy effect.

Most times, we don’t want camera movement when pressing the shutter. Clarity and sharpness are what we’re after, and nothing ruins it more than a bit of camera shake. Except when some intentional camera movement is part of the artistic effect.

Creating the Intentional Camera Movement Effect

I shot this with my Fuji X-T20. Normally I don’t like lugging my tripod around but today I had a whim to go out into the woodland and try something new. I’d watched a video on YouTube (as you do) by NatureTTL, talking about how to take creative photos of nature and woodland in particular. One of the techniques described was intentional camera movement, or ICM as it’s often shortened to.

Having tried this before and failed to get anything decent, I wanted to give it a proper go and that meant taking my tripod out so I had better control.

It’s not that easy to find a suitable clump of trees. Ideally, you want distinct trunks some interesting colour in the background. Although my chosen spot was pretty jumbled with trees, they were all more or less in a straight line so I had some clear verticals to work with.

Camera on tripod, my settings were:

  • Shutter priority mode (at the moment I’m experimenting with letting the camera do some of the work. Chose shutter priority because I wanted a slow speed and I wasn’t much bothered what aperture I was at. Depth of field doesn’t matter much in this type of image).
  • F16 (camera chose this setting)
  • ISO 200 (I chose this setting. I sometimes use auto iso, but not this time. Because the woods were shady, the camera wanted to bump up the iso and I didn’t want it to)


The ICM Technique

The top of the tripod must allow easy and smooth vertical rotation of the camera. Normally, we’d compose the image then lock down the tripod swivels to prevent movement. To get this effect, we need movement, so leave this unlocked.

As you press the shutter button, move the camera down at the same time. It sounds easy, but takes a bit of practise to find good start and end places for the image. You can end up with all trunk and nothing rooting them, or all foreground with a couple of trunks too high up in the photo.
It also takes a few practise tries to figure out the ideal speed of camera movement. Too fast, and all detail is obliterated. Too slow, and there’s not enough blur.

Here’s a second ICM shot I was quite pleased with:

ICM shot of trees
A second shot of a different group of trees. Intentional camera movement.

It’s fun, and you can get some really good effects. Try and get the best image possible in camera so there,s minimal editing afterwards. In these two images the only editing I did was general processing to brighten the colours. I shoot in RAW, so I’m the jpeg processor not the camera.


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