What’s ICM?

November 28, 2018

Neat image isn’t it? How did I do it?  I used ICM!  Here are the details on how you can do it!

ICM or Intentional Camera Movement is when the photographer intentionally moves the camera while he or she presses the shutter. This is done for artistic reasons or special effects.

    The first shot is an ICM image of our Christmas Tree.  The camera was set in Manual mode, ISO of 100, aperture of f/3.5, with a exposure of five seconds. I held the camera in my two hands, pressed the shutter, and during the five seconds moved the camera in a circular motion.  I had pre-focused on the lights on the tree and placed the lens in manual focus before I took the shot. That way, the autofocus mechanism didn’t try to find the focus in the dim light.

    With ICM, start with a five second exposure.  I find an exposure of five seconds to be about the amount of time for one to smoothly move the camera through the pattern one plans.  You may need to adjust the camera’s aperture or ISO in your shots depending on your situation.

    The first shot also demonstrates a common ICM problem. A jerky start! If you look at the top of the image you will see little “hooks” where I started the motion after I pressed the shutter.  The way to avoid these jerky starts is to begin the motion of the pattern then gently press the shutter.  I did that on the other three images. Performing a clean start and moving the camera in a smooth motion takes practice!

    For this next ICM shot, I zoomed in closer to the middle of our Christmas tree.  Again, I used a five second exposure where I moved the camera in a circular motion.  Because I was closer to the lights, I needed to change the aperture to f/5.0.  Actually I took a bunch of shots at different aperture settings and I liked the f/5.0 one the best.

    Note: The dashed line effect is due to the blinking of the LED Christmas lights that we use on our tree.  LED lights are like fluorescent lights, they blink 60 times a second in sync with the AC power.

   The next shot is another ICM where I moved the camera in a circular motion during the five seconds but with an aperture of f/11.  They look similar in exposure because I adjusted both in Lightroom.

   The last shot was taken similar to the previous one–ISO 100, aperture of f/11, exposure for five seconds–but I moved the camera in a figure eight several times.

Use the holiday lights in your own home to take some ICM photographs!  They are easy to take and lots of fun!  And when you show them to your friends and relatives, they will be impressed by your photography skills! 🙂

With ICM photos, one needs to do a  lot of experimentation. Typically one takes many shots and selects only a few good ones.  But the results can be amazing!

Have a Happy Holiday Season!


Posted by Dan Hyde

Dan is the Chair of the Lewisburg Photography Club.

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