I took the morning yesterday to take some shots in local areas, with two things in mind: further experience with my new 85 tilt-shift, and trying out some abstract shots – both with long exposures, and with ICM (intentional camera movement); both of these techniques seem to be very much in vogue in the UK at present, so I thought I’d do tests. In this post I’ll talk about ICM; as you will see/learn, the fact that I managed to produce a couple of impressive results, and one near miss, from my first attempt was very pleasing.
Background – I’ve recently been watching some On Landscape magazine videos by Doug Chinnery on creative landscape photography, demonstrating the ICM technique. I found these very useful, esp. since the series including some very good tips on post-processing as well as on technique. I was pretty sceptical, but thought I’d give it a go anyway.
The basic idea is that you throw away just about everything you’ve learned about photography in the quest for originality and creativity. Shots are taken handheld, often at arm’s length, so that the natural weight of the camera and lens results in blurred results. You can also introduce different effects by moving the camera up and down, side to side, or round and round.
Doug’s videos tell you that the hit-rate is very low indeed. Fortunately, I seemed to have hit on a couple of subjects which struck me, one of which worked very well indeed.
I intended this as a diversion from other standard-style subjects (on a walk through Bernwood Forest along my habitual route); perhaps my hit-rate was beginner’s luck. I do however have one or two pointers that will serve to remind me what I did and didn’t do well here.
Composition and Technique:
This is still very important. All my ICM shots yesterday were taken at a fixed focal length (85mm with my PC-E). This worked well up to a point, but a zoom might have given greater flexibility – worth trying with my 70-200, then. You have to have an idea of a composition that works, even handheld, so that you have a result to aim for, which you can keep working at until you think you have something. The most important thing is shutter speed – between 1 and 5 seconds recommended – so you have to experiment with different results. Colour and shape are still important, so using a polarizer might be useful (as it was here with the leaves, which were washed out and too grey-lookingi without the polarizer).
Doug encourages experimentation with white-balance – you can push these images much harder than you would a standard scenic shot. He also advises use of Nik Viveza 2 plugin for adding saturation; the warmth slider is also very useful. Other generally good landscape photography tips include avoiding the use of saturation, clarity, and vibrance sliders during RAW conversion – concentrating on white balance and black and white points is good advice.
Here are the four results that I have processed and not binned (out of a total of 65 ICM shots attempted). The two of the trees and leaves are best; the tree stump, while spectacular, is a compositional near-miss, which I will want to revisit; the grasses shot is ok – I quite like the composition.
All taken handheld with Nikon D800E and 85PC-E
(rather ironic that the least technical shots were taken with my most technical lens!)
Trees and Leaves 1
ISO 100 1.6” f/16, Lee 105 CPL
I actually reckon this is one of my best images of the year! The tones created by the polarizer and the processing, and the sense of mystery, are wonderful.
Included in the mingthein.com reader portfolio.
Trees and Leaves 2
ISO 100 1.6” f/16, Lee 105 CPL
Same scene, and technicals as the previous shot, but less successful, presumably because I didn’t much the camera up and down as much during the exposure.
ISO 100 1/8 f/7.1
The near miss! Some spectacular effects here produced by the rendering of what were orange/yellow fungi growing around the rim of the stump top, and the circular movement of the camera to mirror the circular feel of the view worked really well. Sadly the composition didn’t quite work out – this is a 16×9 crop.
ISO 100 1/6 f/7.1
A quick update: the first two images made their way into Ming Thein’s Reader Porfolio; that’s not an easy get, so I’m even more pleased!