A little movement…

Sharing with Photo Art Fridays and Mandarin Orange Mondays

Lately, I have been lucky enough to discover and start corresponding with some photographers I really admire. I asked one if she had any tips to offer me to improve my photography. Her basic advice was to always try new things with my camera — different subjects, different focal lengths, different settings — and not to be afraid of mistakes.

I love this counsel because it’s so easy to stay in the old comfort zone, shooting in the same way over and over, especially when the results of your experiments don’t turn out the way you want.

In the last little while, I have been making an effort to branch out, and here is a recent effort to play with ICM, intentional camera movement. ICM is a photographic effect in which the camera is rotated or moved in a horizontal, diagonal, or vertical direction while photographing a static object.

I think I first saw some examples on flickr (there are several groups devoted to the technique) and I became quite fascinated with the dreamy, abstract images that resulted. So I did some googling for tutorials and found out more about the technique.

The technique works well with trees, so I tried it over Thanksgiving at the cottage. I won’t lie, my first shots were complete failures. But I kept at it, altering my movement and settings and checking to see what happened. But it was hard to know if anything was working until I was able to download my images to my computer and inspect them more closely. The image above spoke to me and made me happy. I’m definitely going to be doing more of this!

I love discovering new ways to make images that express my vision. There are so many sources of inspiration to stay out of a shooting rut and expand our photographic consciousness. What new techniques have you discovered lately?

Addendum: You know how sometimes you have to look at an image many times before you see something obvious but meaningful? I just realized that I should really call this image “The Road Less Travelled”…

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Shooting at night

I headed out last night to see if I could capture the look and feel of Coconut Grove after dark with my camera. To me, it’s all about action, light and intense contrast. So instead of trying to freeze motion, as you normally do in photos in order to get a sharp result, I set out to emphasize the feeling of movement through purposely blurring some parts of the image.

In downtown Coconut Grove, the streets are always crowded with people at night, so I felt quite comfortable walking around by myself. Since I was carrying a tripod to steady the camera during the long exposures I had to use, I figured I could use it as a weapon if necessary. 🙂

I set myself up at a busy intersection and started experimenting with shutter speeds. I managed to get some decent light trails, which complemented the neon lighting on the restaurant. The photo above used a three-second exposure.

Then I decided to try blurring people strolling along Cocowalk while keeping the rest of the photo in focus. So I moved my camera setup, figured out the best aperture and starting firing off shots at different shutter speeds — some of people coming towards me and some of people walking away. When they saw me, many seemed concerned they were getting in the way of my photo of Cocowalk…little did they know that they were my subjects too!

It took me a while to pin down the exposure that would give me the effect I was looking for. Too long and the people were too blurry and unrecognizable. The shutter speed used in the photo below was 1/6 of a second.

I might have preferred the subjects here to be a wee bit more blurry, but overall it was my favorite shot because it seemed to tell a little story. I like the contrast between the young women who are moving and blurred and the skateboarder who is still and in focus, and who seems to be watching them with some degree of appreciation.

View from Leo’s

We’re at Bob’s brother Leo’s this weekend, so I decided to experiment with a new technique called HDR (or High Dynamic Range). You take several different exposures of the same scene and then combine them with a special software program.

This is my first attempt. What do you think?