I have been asked a few times over the last few years how I came to be shooting ICM photos. Over the last several months, I’ve been thinking about that and thought it might be of interest (if only to other photographers) to explore what it was that led me to this particular form of artistic experimentation.
I know that the word, “experimentation” has been a key factor in this journey for me. Whenever I’ve pursued any type of artistic endeavor, I have enthusiastically embraced the ideas of chance, experiment and the unknown along with the more traditional disciplines inherent in a particular type of art.
Back in 2010, during a visit to the Sea Lion Caves on the coast of Oregon, I was struggling to get a few shots of the sea lions in the dark, smelly cave. I was shooting through the small openings of a cyclone fence and ended up with the shot below, which really should be known as an UN-intentional Camera Movement photo. I was probably trying a longer exposure out of frustration at how dark my photos were coming out and naively hoping I could keep still enough to get a clear shot. When I reviewed it later, I thought, “That looks cool!” and have kept it all this time.
Fast forward to early 2011. I began experimenting with incense smoke photography. My early attempts yielded a few images that revealed some faces and pleasing forms (at least to my eye). Images such as the one below kept me coming back for more, in spite of the incredibly high failure rate (even compared to ICM rates – which are high enough). It sure looks like an alien to me.
During the next two years, I really started focusing intensely on trying to hone my skills on landscape photography (something I’m still working on). At the same time, I began to take an interest in long exposure photography, especially with water. I would occasionally attempt a long exposure, “silky” water shot. Inevitably, I would get an image that was too blown-out (over-exposed) to be used. One day, I took a photo of a stream on a dark, cloudy day and captured something that was at least in the ballpark of what I was aiming for. I posted it on Flickr and someone asked it I had used ND filters to get the image. I had no idea what that meant and promptly googled it. I learned that ND filters are dark glass that allow less light to go through the lens to the sensor. “Aha!” I thought, “THAT’S how they do it!” I immediately ordered a set and began to experience the results I’d been hoping for. From time to time, I would play with zooming during a long exposure of a waterfall, such as in the photo below.
Some time later, I was looking through some photos posted by one of my contacts in Picasa or Flickr and noticed a very intriguing photo of some abstract trees. I couldn’t figure out how the the photo was done and asked the photographer for some information. She told me it was done by moving the camera in an up and down motion during a long exposure. I thought, “I’ve got to try that” and then proceeded to forget about it for another year.
One night while having dinner at the home of our next-door neighbor, I noticed a photograph on her wall that was the same kind of abstract trees as I’d seen the previous year. I did some research online and found out that the term ICM/ Intentional Camera Movement was currently being used for a style of photography that had been around for some time. I was very much drawn to the work of Ernst Haas and determined to give it a go myself. Below is one of my very first efforts, followed by a selection of images taken over the last two and a half years.
Thanks for reading! This is my very first blog post and I look forward to doing more in the near future.