How To Create Abstract Seascapes Using ICM

Updated: May 13, 2019

I have recieved some great feedback from my recent "Fathom" series of images. These images, all taken on the Cornish coast, use the technique of "ICM", or "Intentional Camera Movement" to create an abstract effect.

A number of people on social media have asked how to create this type of image, so this short blog post should help those wanting to create a similar effect to get started.

This is the type of image we will be looking at creating:

The process behind "ICM" is to set your camera to a relatively long exposure (around 2-3 seconds), and during the exposure, to literally move the camera around to create an image with a sense of motion, and a feeling of etheral "otherworldness".

Firstly, there are a few bits of kit that are essential to creating an abstract seascape such as the image above. BUT, great news - we can work without tripods. I love the freedom of being able to shoot handheld.

You will need:

1) Any Camera that has manual controls - there are even apps for you smart phones that will allow you to create this type of effect.

2) For shooting at sunset - A 6 Stop ND Filter - This will allow us to create the neccasary long exposure. For me, with filters, you get what you pay for. I use the Lee Filters Little Stopper. Visit the Lee Filters Website to learn more.

Disclaimer: I am a Lee Filters Brand Ambassador, but have not been paid to produce this post.

If you want to shoot ICM during the day, you may find you need a 10 Stop filter to create a long enough exposure time.

3) At least a 16GB SD Card - we are going to be taking a LOT of images! !

4) Patience and the willing to experiment! ! !

Thats it for kit, we are now ready to get to the fun part. I've found that a 2-3 second exposure gives the best results for what I'm looking to create. Download the "Lee Stopper Guide App" from the App store (available on Android and IOS) to help calculate your exposure time.

Now its literally time to experiment. Click the shutter, and move the camera.

That's it for rules. During the exposure, you can create whatever movements you like. Its all down to experimentation, and what results please you. Move the camera up and down, left and right, shake it, walk with it, move in little circles, its entirely upto you!

Just remember - you will create a high volume of images that are not great. But dont be discouraged, and when you find a movement and a composition that pleases you, keep shooting, and shooting.

And one final thing - If you are shooting at sunset, remember the light will be changing with every passing minute, and you will need to keep adjusting your settings to compensate.

I hope this tutorial has been of at least some use, and that it inspires you to go out and shoot your own images. I would love to see your results, so post a link in the comments below!

Update 27/09/17:

Just wanted to say thanks for all of the positive reaction on both the website, 500px and Instagram for the project as a whole, and this tutorial post!

Its great to see that people have been inspired to go out and shoot their own images!

Do let me know in the comments below on any more content / tutorials / kit info / posts you would like to see in the future!

here a couple of new images from me!

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