icm – shakin’ it up!

Intentional camera movement (ICM) is a photographic technique in which the photographer moves the camera during exposure. This creates the kind of flowing effect of long shutter speeds that I wrote about earlier, but it is also very different: here, the entire camera is moving and therefore the whole image will be equally affected. If you just take a long exposure picture with your camera on a tripod, it’s of course only the parts of the scene that move (leaves, water, people…) that will be affected; things that don’t move, like stones, will not be affected in the same way.

Although I didn’t know that it had a name the first time I tried it (I just came up with the idea one evening and decided to see what it’d look like), ICM is one of those techniques that I find very intriguing and exciting because through it, we can see things we cannot see without a camera – as you will maybe understand when you see the pictures below. You can have an image in your head of something you’d like to create, which isn’t just your view of the landscape you’re looking at; or you can be completely without ideas and in an experimental mood. Whichever one it is, this is a fun thing to try and it can even bring something new to your life!

(Warning: no need to shake your camera very vigorously! That just causes damage. Instead, play with shutter speeds and aperture so you can move the camera for as long or short a time as you’d like.)


I’m putting this one first, since it’s the picture I took when I first came up with the idea of moving the camera during exposure. It’s an oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) and as my shutter speed I chose 0.25 seconds.

A slightly different picture, with the same settings and the same flower.

In June 2011 there was a total lunar eclipse. At that point, I was at a field station with a great view over the sea. Here in southern Finland, the eclipse was only total as the moon rose over the horizon, so I only managed to see the partial eclipse. After taking some pictures of the eclipse, I moved on and started playing around instead – this was the result. Very silly, and a lot of fun: and a good exercise, since to make the shape you want, you need to move the camera in a mirror-imaged movement. To get the dot of the question mark without having a line of light there I just covered the lens for a short instant.

The sunset’s beautiful light on the pine trees inspired me to try this: an imagined forest fire. Nature gives a lot of possibilities to play around with ICM, but inspiration can also come from other things…

These futuristic geysers were created by me keeping my camera on a tripod above a broken TV that I found in the garbage room, and then moving the camera on the tripod. The shutter speed was 1.3 seconds, and I thought it turned out pretty neat! The next one is from the same session, with the same settings.

The only limits are in your head; if you go out and try this, don’t restrict yourself to the obvious! And, most importantly, enjoy it.

2 thoughts on “icm – shakin’ it up!

  1. The moon pictures are quite creative — a kind of inverse light-painting. I don’t think I would have come up with that! Keep experimenting and sharing the results — it makes me want to get out my camera and try something strange. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks! πŸ™‚ I’m very glad to hear that I might inspire – that’s one of my goals with this blog.

      As for the moon pictures – escaping boredom can be pretty useful sometimes! πŸ˜‰

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