The Feeling of Autumn Colors

It has not been a particularly good year for fall colors here in The Triangle.  It's been dry much of the summer and we have had several recent large temperature swings.  As a result many of the trees started dropping leaves early and others failed to yield the beautiful reds, oranges and golds, just yellow to brown.  I was inspired this morning to head out into my front yard and try my hand at a technique call intentional camera movement (ICM).   The resulting images will convey mood and emotion rather than capturing a moment in time.

First, you want to think about what the final product will look like, streaks of color in the direction you move the camera, and select a subject with a variance in color and contrast.  In terms of composition, the key is to try and frame up the shot so you do not have bright sky or deep shadow in the planned frame.  Remember you will be moving the camera (typically vertical or horizontal) so plan accordingly to know where your image will start and stop.


To shoot ICM you want a shutter speed of around 1 second and you then as the name implies, move your camera while the shutter is open.  This is best done in manual mode.  First focus on your subject (auto-focus can be used, but as soon as you have focus lock, switch off AF so the camera does not try to focus while you are shooting).  Set your ISO to the lowest native level on your camera (100 ISO in my case) and meter your subject area as usual and adjust your aperture for a properly exposed image. 

Now you are ready to shoot.  I took the approach similar to applying spray paint, start moving and then press the button and keep moving after the shutter closes.  One nice fluid motion.  Plan to take a number of images and try moving the camera in different directions.  The first image above was done starting above my head and moving the camera straight down.  The image below was moving form left to right.

 Impressions of Fall Colors -  Buy a Print

Impressions of Fall Colors - Buy a Print

I was really quite pleased with the results.  This is exactly the kind of images I had envisioned.  So although this scene was not particularly beautiful, I was able to see the image I wanted to create.  For reference, the scene I shot follows below.  It is the most colorful tree on my property, but it is small and at the edge of a scrubby wooded area, making the direct view of the scene, somewhat uninspiring.

So the lesson from this morning's spontaneous experiment is, don't be afraid to try new techniques and step outside your usual style.  You may just find a new source of creativity and a new way to see the world around you.

 The scene that generated the images above.

The scene that generated the images above.