Intentional Camera Movement - Landscape

A creative technique when you are out shooting any landscape scene is to capture it abstractly. Intentional camera movement ( ICM) is easy to produce and can give you a different perspective of the shooting location. I also like to save these to use as textures with other images. Here are my tips for capturing great abstract landscape images. 

  • To create horizontal ICM images, you want to think about your composition. Set up your shot just like you would for a traditional image. 
  • Camera settings: I recommend you set your ISO low to 100.  Then, stop down your aperture to F20 or F22. Finally, set your shutter speed between 2 sec to 1/30 of a second.
  •  If you are shooting during the day and with bright sun,  you may want to use an ND filter to combat the bright sky. 
  • Set the camera to continuous shooting mode, so you can keep shooting as you move. This will help you achieve a shot you like. 
  • I encourage you to have the camera strap around your neck. It is preferred to shoot these moving images handheld. You will want to stand still and keep your arms close to your body. Hold the camera out in front of you. Use the LCD screen vs. the viewfinder to capture the image. 
  • When you are ready to take the image, move the camera to the right or the left as you press the shutter. You will have to move fast, depending on your shutter speed. Take some test shots moving at different paces. Try to keep the camera level with the horizon line if there is one visible. 
  • I take multiple images panning both right and left. 

You can also create abstract images with vertical shooting vs. horizontal.

Follow the same setup; just move the camera in an up or down motion.  This works great for trees or tall tree-like structures. 

Creating a circular motion ICM is another creative option. If you can stand under a group of trees looking up, you can spin the camera as you press the shutter. This will give you a circular pattern. Also try using a zoom lens. As you press the shutter zoom the lens in or out for different effects. 

Remember, these are supposed to be abstract, so embrace the out-of-focus and blur that these images create. It takes a lot of photos to get one your will love. Don’t stop with one or two shots - take 20 or more. I also encourage you not to delete the images in-camera. Wait until you can review at home. Sometimes adding some contrast and correcting your exposure can turn a throw-away image into a keeper. Once you get the hang of ICM photography, it is something you can do at any location. 

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