Instant Inspiration (7) – ICM

Angel | Nuremberg | 2016

By popular demand here is the seventh episode of “Instant Inspiration”, something for you to try to overcome photographers block or if you simply want to give your photography a new angle. This epsiode is about using ICM (Intentional Camera Movement) for creative effects. For a bit of how-to, another photo and links to previous episodes 1 through 6 continue reading after the jump…..

Typically photographers avoid camera movement as a snowman the fire (pardon the seasonal pun), because nothing looks as bad as unsharp images due to (unintentional) camera shake. In order to ensure sharpness a rule of thumb suggest to set a shutter speed of at least 1/100 of the used focal length (so if you shoot with 200mm focal length use at least 1/200 sec shutter speed).

But  you can also intentionally move your camera or your zoom (zooming in or out) while shooting with a slow shutter speed to achieve certain creative effects. This method is called ICM (Intentional Camera Movement). It takes a bit of practice and trial and error, but you can really get some “artsy” effects in your images with ICM.

The “Angel” image above was shot with 1/4 sec shutter speed at f/14 and ISO 200. I focused on the angel ornament and started to zoom out. While still turning the zoom I then pressed the shutter. With this method you can create this kind of barrel- or tunnel-effect, depending on how fast you turn the zoom or how slow the shutter speed is.

Lightstorm | Nuremberg | 2016

Another effect you can create is by moving the camera left to right (or right to left) while shooting with a slow shutter speed. The image above was taken with 1/4 sec @ f/9 and ISO 200. Generally, using a shutter speed of 1/4 sec is a good starting point for your experiments.

To match the season the two photos above were taken during my last visit to Nuremberg’s Christmas Market. But this method works also very well on a beach with horizontal movement or in the woods with trees (with vertical movement). Exemplary shots from my beach- and tree-portfolio (there was a photographic life before Street Photography) see below.


I hope you feel a bit inspired to try some ICM shots next time you go out with your camera.

Have fun!


Related Posts:

Instant Inspiration (6) – Storefront Windows

Instant Inspiration (5) – Puddle Shooting

Instant Inspiration (4) – Juxtaposition

Instant Inspiration (3) – Silhouettes

Instant Inspiration (2) – Motion Blur

Instant Inspiration (I) – Get Down Low

27 thoughts on “Instant Inspiration (7) – ICM

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  1. Intentional movement is so much fun! To my chagrin, I discovered that my camera doesn’t support zooming while clicking, and I had to move my body instead. Interesting results nevertheless. 🙂

  2. Love the last two pictures of ICM in nature! I’ve explored the technique with my Christmas lights but not outside like that. I’ll have to try that!

    1. Thanks so much :-)) You definitely have more beaches near you than me ;-). My beach pic was taken on the Baltic Sea during a vacation a few years ago. Would love to see your results!

  3. That is so wonderful! And it’s not so easy to achieve these fantastic effects.

    That is truly inspiring. Some day I will try this technique:)

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