In Flames

On my recent trip up to the Eastern Sierra, in search of fall colors, I chose to only use my telephoto lens. In so making that choice, I also had a secondary goal of experimenting with intentional camera movement (ICM). This was a scene of aspen trees, with vibrant fall-colored leaves, surrounding a commanding conifer. I tried different shutter speeds and hand movements, to get a sense of how much motion blur is enough, while still maintaining some semblance of structure in the image.

Given the recent wildfires in California and observation of the damage and smokey haze, on my drive up, I was subconsciously thinking about how the fires were consuming so much of the beautiful vegetation, not far from where I was hiking and shooting. In post, this just jumped out to me as a tree being consumed by fire and I wondered if my subconscious pondering on the wildfires had something to do with the outcome. I did some slight color adjustments to turn the yellow tones to a bit more of an orange hue, in order to further enhance the flame-like streaks.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Does the 4:5 crop factor work? Do the green hues feel a bit muddy or does it work with the rest of colors? The colors were certain bright, but wondering if the color balance adjustments results in over-saturation. Any feedback regarding these items or anything else would be much appreciated.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

Any and all feedback welcome.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

Simple ICM experimentation, by moving the camera up and down with a slower shutter speed. ICM was done hand-held. I chose a higher aperture to get a slower shutter speed, as I didn’t trust my ND filter holder to stay attached, given I was shooting hand-held.

Camera Settings:
Focal Length: 200mm
Shutter Speed: 0.3 sec
Aperture: f/32
ISO: 100

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I love this use of ICM to tell a story. The title and image itself clearly conveys what you’re seeking to tell, Jimmy. Before I even saw the title, the impression of a forest fire caught my attention when scrolling through the forum.

I think 4x5 works well for it, as does the color variation. You can just make out the background trunks. For me, there’s enough texture and detail yet the movement yields the impressionistic you’re looking for. I was going to say something about the bright highlight in the LLC but I think it works since the base of a fire tends to be the brightest. Nice work

This is really nice Jimmy! If this was an experiment I would call it a grand success! In fact this is one of the best ICM images that I have seen. The symbolism that you noted about the fires in the area further enhances my appreciation of the image.


ICM’s are not everyone’s cup of tea… I’m NOT one of them! This is a fantastic rendition and clearly paints a picture and message of the burning forest. I love what you’ve done with the colors as well to accentuate the message. As far as the greens - I think just right. Just enough presence to tell the story that this is a forest.

Well done! No nits or suggestions.


This is really nice, Jimmy. I enjoy seeing well done ICM’s and this is one of them. The title “In Flames” is perfect for this image, it does look like dancing flames. The 4:5 aspect ratio works fine for me, the composition and color distribution are well balanced. This is a simple but impactful image.

AS you know, color and saturation are pretty subjective, and a matter of personal taste. So take my comments from that perspective. I think the greens in the top half are ever so slightly muddy, and could benefit from a little more luminosity. I think the yellow/orange flames at the bottom are clipping a little bit (as sen in a quick levels check). If this were mine, I would try to balance the colors and saturation a little bit between top and bottom. I increased brightness in the top half for a little more vitality, and used a TK Saturation mask to reduce saturation in only the bottom half. Here is a rework that illustrates these (subtle) changes.

This is definitely my cup of tea and it does look like a forest on fire. The hand-held effect contributes to that. I wonder if you’ve also tried it with a swinghead or Wimberley sidekick? The colours are so beautiful that I think it would also look beautiful with the straighter movement you would have with this extra gear.
Grt, Ingrid.