If you’re a Shutterbug regular you know that we constantly preach trying new techniques that will expand your skills and deliver images that stand out from the crowd. The five-minute tutorial below explains a simple method for shooting eye-popping photos of cityscapes, candid portraits on the street, and even landscape imagery with a unique look.
This technique known as Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) breaks many of the conventional rules. You’ll leave the tripod at home, forget about maximum sharpness, and move the camera in various directions during long exposures to create images with a breathtaking, impressionist effect. It’s both simple and creativity at its best.
Instructor Eva Polak is an experienced pro with a recognizable and unique style that evokes emotion, feeling and mood through the use of ICM. In this straightforward lesson she reveals her favorite tips and tricks for using different types of blur—including lens blur, motion blur, panning and zooming blur, and filter blur to achieve a variety of stunning effects.
Polak considers the urban environment “a treasure-trove of color, texture, and patterns that provide endless opportunities for creating exciting photographs,” She quickly demonstrates the simple methods she employs and provides several awesome images that will give you a heavy dose of inspiration to give this approach a try.
The first thing to keep in mind is that impressionism isn’t exactly a technique, but rather “a way of seeing and expressing the effect of light on the subject.” Hence, there’s plenty of room for experimentation and creating a style all your own as you follow her advice. While doing so don’t forget that the ultimate goal is to convey whatever mood you have in mind.
One tip is to emphasize colors, shapes, and their relationship to one another as you have fun playing with ICM. The idea is to examine a scene while searching for abstractions of reality. Reflections are one obvious choice as they provide a perfect surface for creative interesting, impressionist shots. When shooting outdoors reflections tend to change in color and intensity throughout the day, so be mindful of that when you head out to shoot.
Image blur is a highly effective component of great ICM images, and it comes in a variety of forms. Polak discusses the various types available, each of which lend unique effects and characteristics to the photos you make. She suggests which type of blur to use in various situations. depending upon the chosen subject, your preferences, and the message you want to communicate.
You’ll learn how panning blur creates a sense of motion, while lens blur “suggests a sense of ambiguity.” Polak also demonstrates how to give photos a romantic feel by smearing a bit of Vaseline on the filter protecting your lens. There are a few more tricks to learn, so take a look and try something different the next time you go out to shoot.
You can find more top tips on Polak’s YouTube channel, and in the tutorial we posted earlier with another pro’s three-minute trick for shooting dramatic outdoor photographs with more depth and dimension.