Jul 13, 2011

The Fine Art of Intentional Camera Movement

I am always interested in capturing the day to day in an unusual different way. One technique that I frequently use is intentional camera movement. Intentional camera movement or ICM is a photographic effect where the camera is rotated or moved in a horizontal, diagonal or vertical direction while photographing a static object. The camera can be hand-held or mounted on a tripod when performing the actual camera movement. I usually prefer using my tripod for best photography results. The right combination of shutter speed, aperture setting and ISO setting will produce the desired blur and an artistic abstraction of the scenery. A long enough shutter speed is the key ingredient and allows the camera to paint the photographic object in its abstract form. There may be lots of trial and errors in the beginning and it may take a while to develop your own technique but it certainly provides you with unique set of photographs and lots of fun.

In my first two photographs from the beautiful Boston Arnold Arboretum I placed the camera on my tripod pointing upwards towards the tree canapes. During the exposure I rotated the camera that resulted in these tree carousel like photography images. In both images the aperture was set to f/8 resulting in 1/30 sec and 1/4 sec exposure times for the fall and spring image respectively.

In this next summer photo I tried to apply the intentional camera movement technique to one of my flower photographs. Here I hand-held the camera and set the aperture to f/8 providing me with a slow enough shutter speed of 1/10 second. I then focused on a bunch of Blacked-Eyed Susan flowers in the garden and moved the camera up and down to create an abstract floral photography blur.

For the sunset photograph I set up my tripod at Brace Cove in Gloucester after a late afternoon shoot of Rockport Harbor and motif #1 on Cape Ann. I exposed long enough at 1/10 second to allow for intentional camera movement with my camera across the Brace Cove, capturing this abstract seascape photograph of this most beautiful sunset.

The last image was taken on beautiful Cape Cod. Here I moved the camera in the direction of the incoming rolling waves resulting in an abstract impressionistic early morning seascape photograph. The aperture was set to f/8 resulting in 1/2 second exposure time.


  1. Excellent work Juergen, ICM (I didn't know their was an Acronym for this!) is also one of my own favourite techniques. I applaud you for breaking the rules of traditional photography :)

  2. Thank you so much for your positive feedback on my blog about intentional camera movement ... glad you enjoyed it and indeed it's so much fun I will continue to break the rules when I come across an appealing composition that may work ... I actually created a page for ICM on facebook today ... hope you will join and post your work and talk about your technique: http://www.facebook.com/pages/ICM-Intentional-Camera-Movement/255427994471391?sk=wall

  3. Very interesting and informative Juergen! I like the idea of rotation.. and must try something like that next time i go out..Thanks for sharing.. :)

  4. Thanks for commenting Reb. I printed the spring tree carousel and framed it nicely for my art fairs. It draws a lot of people into the booth and makes for plenty of how to discussions. Glad you enjoyed the read and the images ... please share yours when you get a chance. FYI - I also just created a group on facebook for ICM if you are interested ... will have to promote more when time allows though ... http://www.facebook.com/groups/243917048971190

  5. Well of course I love the fall image the most but a few others are a close second... I will have to try this myself.
    I've done the fire and zoom technique but that tends to give me a head ache when looking at it. The spinning ones don't seem to cause the same problem...
    Maybe I should ask you to be a guest blogger on my fall foliage website/blog. (Jeff-foliage.com) thoughts?

  6. Thanks so much for commenting on my intentional camera movement photography art Jeff ... glad you like it! It's great fun and ones you get the hang of it it will be more productive. I am actually writing an article for Apogee photo magazine about it that will be released in September ... so stay tuned for more tips. Guest blogging sounds like a good idea ... what did you have in mind?

  7. I've taken various pictures of black-eyed susans over the years, but never one with intentional movement. I like the effect you achieved with yours. A decade ago I played with camera movement, but it was for pictures of a person. So far I haven't tried that technique in nature, though I might. Thanks for making me think about it.

  8. I started out with my daughter and nieces were I panned the camera while they were biking by. At one point I applied the technique to still motifs provided by nature and love how intentional camera movement has transformed my nature photography into abstract art creations ... hope you will try it out and share your photos!

  9. Hello Juergen, I would like to refer you to my art work, as it seems like it is something that you would enjoy. I have been working with what you refer to as "intentional camera movement' since 1986 when I put together an exhibit of b/w photography using this technique as a way of deconstructing the traditional landscape photograph. With the advent of digital photography, I took up the approach again in 2000 and had a major exhibit in Merida, Mexico in 2002 with my first results (http://www.douglasbarkey.com/news/fotonoviembre02.html)

    Here are two websites you might enjoy: http://www.lightgestures.com and http://www.douglasbarkey.com/portfolio/

    Where did the name intentional camera movement come from? I never was able to come up such a simple name, the best being "light gestures".

    - Doug Barkey

  10. Hi Doug, thanks for commenting on my intentional camera movement photography. I wrote an article for Apogee Photo Magazine about it and one can find it here: Mastering The Art of Intentional Camera Movement. Hope you find the time to stop by for an easy and fun read ... and next time you out and about give it a shoot it's a very rewarding way of creating photo art that makes for great and interesting interior decoration of house, home, restaurant, hotel, or any other wall space ... glad you like those examples here! My best, Juergen

  11. The last image is my fafourite.

    Today i tried my first shots in this discipline

    Best regards