Mel Collie


How to take ICM pictures

The first time I mistakingly found that I actually liked Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) images was in Wales.

I had spent a few hours in Dinorwic Quarry taking photos , when it started to rain. As I made it down to Padarn, I looked across and the light looked so beautiful across it I wanted to capture that moment, the weather had other ideas though, as the wind picked up, it was impossible to keep my camera still and I didn't have a tripod back then.

My hands were moving slightly as I took a few images, the rain came down so heavy then, I ran down the rest of the lane to get home, which was just in Llanberis, the other side of Padarn lake.

When I edited the images the next day, this was the image, out of all of the ones I had taken that day, that I connected with.

Maybe that sounds a bit cheesy, but for a while the images I was taking were ones of sweeping landscapes that I wasn't connecting with, that for me, held no emotion, images that hadn't captured what I was feeling or what I was seeing, they felt cold and empty.

I was taking photos of the awesome landscape, because thats what everyone else was doing and thats what I thought I should be doing.

I stopped putting photos on my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram pages for a while, because I didn't know what to do.

Instead I went out early most mornings and wandered by the lake, a favourite walk, at dawn, in the autumn and winter, when its icy, misty, blue light, pink light, peace and quiet, calm water on the lake, and I started to experiment with ICM and layering photos with the limited amount of blending modes my camera had at the time.

I made loads of mistakes, but I was enjoying myself.

These are from some of those experimental times..

1.Newborough, a beach on Anglesey which was to become my favourite place to go and , in my head, the catalyst to wanting to come back to Cornwall.

2.The hills on a very rainy day looking down Ogwen Valley, at drive time, cars going home , creating the lights on the right of the image.

3. An ICM and Multiple Exposure of a lake and trees, in the rain.

This was new stuff to me but I liked the feeling they were giving me.

Last Saturday I watched Saturday Kitchen, the chef James Martin said a dish he loved gave him shivers down his right leg...that made me laugh, but I totally understood that.

Do your images give you the good shivers?

Investing in a set of filters, I found them so awkward and limiting, I ended up selling them a few months later on eBay ...I didn't have the patience with them, however, never say never, I might get another set in the future!

Now, when I practice ICM, I go to the beach before sunrise or after sunset when the lights low, which slows down the shutter speed, so I can practice this technique. I usually slow the speed to 2 - 3 seconds if the light is right, if its too early the images are too bright, and of course, thats when you need the filters attached.

As you practice, you make mistakes, then you don't make mistakes, you find what works for you and what doesn't.

My ICM images are all taken hand held. Its very freeing, no tripod, no filters, just the camera and a watchful eye on the changing light. On the beach they are taken moving the camera side to side. At what speed is done to your style, as the speed can change the feel of the final image. You practice, you get to know what speed and what angles work for you.

When in the woods, for ICM effects the camera is moved up and down, following the lines of trees. Again the light can make or break this. I've seen a lot of ICM tree shots, its become more popular now, theres more on social media that ever.

For me, now, I prefer my tree ICM images to have some definite lines and colour, a glow, adding some layering, multiple exposure ICM, a sharper image of falling leaves or water from the river that runs through the woods, adds colour, interest, a story.

This image was shortlisted the second year I entered LPOTY a couple of years ago. In the woods a couple of minutes walk from home, its an ICM image, but not too ICM, theres a touch of detail there too.

ICM is a technique of expression, if it works for you, practice it, if you hate it, leave it alone and practice what you love doing. I found motivation and inspiration through Doug Chinnerys work and Chris Friels work. People who broke the boundaries of photography and whats expected.

It comes down to all of your past experiences, your influences, your perceptions.

Understand those, and you will understand your self.


Melanie CollieComment