Camera shake is great!

This is my favourite version – the sun had come out so the shutter speed increased to 1/4sec, but I still got some decent movement

Fujifilm spend a lot of money developing systems to help reduce the chance of camera shake from spoiling our shots. Very effective they are, too. But sometimes, moving the camera during the exposure can be beneficial to your shots. The most obvious example is panning, where you track a moving subject, but there are other techniques that come under the banner of intentional camera movement (ICM) and it’s these that we’re going to explore here.

Pretty much any subject can be used for ICM, but it’s often best to loosely match the shape of your subjects to the movement you intend to make. Trees, for example, are ideal for vertical movement, whereas a landscape is good if you choose to move the camera horizontally. You can also twist the camera from side to side, which can induce a dizzy feeling in the viewer, so this works well if you’re looking up at a tall building or trees.

The actual movement part of the process can be done with your camera hand-held, but you’ll get far more consistent results if you mount your camera on a tripod. Even so, make sure you’ve got a fully charged battery and a card with plenty of space on it as you’ll inevitably get more misses than hits at first. As you’re going to be using a long(ish) shutter speed, also consider taking a polariser or neutral density filter with you, particularly if it’s a sunny day. Right, let’s head to the woods…

1 Here’s my set up; an X-T1 with XF 18-55mm zoom, mounted on a sturdy tripod. The eagle-eyed among you will notice that I left OIS turned on for this quick shot, but I switched it off before I started taking images, and you should too. This avoids electronics trying to take over and reduce the movement.

2 Next, I selected the X-T1’s lowest ISO, the 18-55mm’s smallest aperture (f/22) and the two-second self-timer option. I then switched to the Manual exposure mode and took a meter reading from the scene, which gave me a shutter speed of 1/2sec. Ideally, you should be working with a shutter speed between two seconds and 1/4sec, so this was perfect and didn’t require the help of filters.

3 Finally, I locked off all the movements on the tripod head with the exception of tilt, pressed the shutter release and then quickly moved the head backwards and forwards. These movements should be as smooth as possible and the two-second delay gives just enough time to get into rhythm. If you find this isn’t enough time, use the ten second delay.

Once you’ve got used to the actual picture taking technique, try a range of different compositions. I like to have a tree prominent in the front of the shot, but you may opt for a more uniform. Take a look at the images below to see what I got.

ICM on the computer
There may be times when you want to have a go at ICM, but don’t have a tripod with you. On these occasions, you can rely on Photoshop. These two shots were done simply by using the Motion Blur filter.

To do it, open the image in Photoshop, then select Filter-Blur-Motion Blur. In the dialogue box that opens, you can choose the angle of blur (I left these of 0°), then simply move the pixel slider until you get the effect you’re after. Simple.

If you found this tutorial useful, do let me know. I’m happy to take suggestions for techniques you’d like to see, so just add your own views and comments below.

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