In the previous post: Before and after dawn - mood swings - I touched briefly on why, even if conditions are not ideal, we should use our time on location productively, to experiment with technique and to work the scene. I suggested a number of things we could do to add variety to the haul of images with which we return home.
Sunset at Doniford Bay, north coast of Somerset
Nikon D810, 50mm f1.4 Nikkor, ISO 64, 8 seconds at f11, polariser, hand-held
2nd September 2015
In my workflow (if continuously reacting to random conditions can be called such a thing) on location, together with the conventional exposures, I usually capture at least two or three ICM images. You may have heard the term elsewhere, but if you are new to it, ICM is an acronym for intentional camera movement and the technique consists of exactly what the name implies - deliberately moving the camera whilst the shutter is open. Initial results are a mixed bag and only trial and error will get you to a place where you are able to repeat satisfactory results with regularity. Several seconds are usually enough time to make an interesting exposure. Another technique that produces some pleasing results when shooting ICM is to use a neutral density filter. This allows a thirty second, or greater, exposure time in daylight. With or without ND and while the shutter is open, hand hold the camera while pacing slowly and steadily back and forth, ensure you maintain the lens orientation and field of view as constantly as you can, while keeping the camera pointing consistently at a light source, scene or subject.
Landscape photos just fifteen minutes apart, as the sun is rising or setting, can require quite significant differentials in their exposure times, so acquiring LE ICM images that will blend well with the conventional tripod-y shots all becomes a natural part of the location workflow.
Above image: "Conclusion"
Twilight view across Bridgwater Bay shot from the coast of Somerset at Doniford
Nikon D810, 50mm f1.4 Nikkor, ISO 64, 20 seconds at f13, polariser, hand-held
3rd September 2015
There are no general rules for the processing of the files but one of the methods that I often favour for interpreting ICM images is to blend them with conventional shots that I have acquired at the same time, in the same location. I find this technique maintains consistency in the colours and tones of the layered files. Again, experimentation is the name of the game here and you will initially need to spend a bit of time in the processing wilderness, but once you emerge, having established a few parameters and a repeatable methodology, the results will be some really quite lovely, dreamy images in the impressionist style.
The two single-shot ICM images above were selected for the first round short-list of OPOTY 2015.
The image below is a blend of two files, one conventionally exposed with camera and tripod, the other an ICM image, both of which I shot a short time apart whilst I was on Dunster Sands looking across Bridgwater Bay at dawn. The almost tilt-shifty effect was an unexpected corollary of the process. I liked it so much that I repeated it on some other images.
Above image: "Containment"
Tanker ship in Blue Anchor Bay. Shot from Dunster Sands, Somerset, at dawn. Two images, blended in Photoshop
Nikon D810, 50mm f1.4 Nikkor, ISO 64, 10 seconds at f11, polariser, hand-held
Nikon D810, 50mm f1.4 Nikkor, ISO 64, 1/10 second at f11, tripod
19th September 2015