Then there was Light

Greetings - hesitating in posting this next to RJ’s higher key image of pretty much the same subject. Quite the opposite this one is to high key!

A stand of pine at the base of El Capitan in Yosemite from my November visit.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Conceptual: Feedback on the message and story conveyed by the image.
  • Emotional: Feedback on the emotional impact and artistic value of the image.
  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

A multi-motion ICM - vertical motion with an angled, horizontal flip at the end. I couldn’t get the color version to look or feel right - it was too gaudy. Then after getting the idea from David Bostock’s b&w wave ICM, I thought I would try it. The streaks up top were blue, which provided the opportunity to target that color. And so my intent was to make the blues stand out and make the scene appear to have light streaking through - like one classically finds in the coastal redwoods with fog - you know the scene I’m talking about.

I’m just not sure if I’ve achieved that look or feeling with the processing. Not sure if I need to take the contrast further, or if it’s worth taking another direction. Your feedback in the area will be much appreciated!

Technical Details

Nikon D7100, 16-85mm @48(72mm), f/13, 1/4s iso 200. single ICM frame.


Quite different, but I can’t imagine why in the world you would hesitate to post it next to anything of mine. This is t-e-r-r-i-f-i-c-!

I have oodles of ICM that have at least a somewhat similar diagonal motion but don’t hold a candle to this. After reading your description, I understand theoretically how you moved the camera while the shutter was open. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how you could do all that to give both the diagonal and vertical motions definition…in 1/4sec. Just from a technical execution perspective, that just amazes me.

And the aesthetic result is just wonderful. It feels like I’m standing in the middle of the forest in the midst of a d-r-i-v-i-n-g rainstorm. Just outstanding.

@Lon_Overacker , I’ve never been a fan of ICM and I’m telling you I could live with a print of this image on a wall I walked by a dozen times each day and probably still be blown away. Nice work. Maybe I’ll have to give it a try!

Absolutely stellar work, sir. I love it. Nothing to change. I could look at this all day, like @JohnSnell said. Well done.

Thank you so much @rjWilner , @JohnSnell and @David_Bostock for your kind words. I wasn’t expecting such a positive response!

RJ, seriously though, your image is excellent! I was thinking two images back to back of vertical trees… and I just thought your high-key approach was quite refreshing as far as ICM’s go!

Of course this is quite difficult and almost pointless to try and explain motion in words. I might consider one day trying to figure out how to record a video. But in the mean time, I’ll try describing:

  1. takes practice of course, but I’ve found 1/4s to be a sweet spot for me. Longer exposures you have to be more deliberate, and slower and patterns, colors wash together, defeating the purpose sometimes.
  2. Camera settings in manual - first determine a good exposure, set it manual then you don’t have to think about it.
  3. Same with focus - find a pre-determined focus point. of course sharp focus is almost irrelevant too with the blurring motion - but you want to be close especially with defined edges like tree trunks.
  4. Now the motion. Camera in either horizontal or vertial orientation
  5. Start your camera in motion BEFORE (below or above for experimentation). A panning motion
  6. Click the shutter on your way up at the moment you want to record/include the subject (this of course is the trial and error part, creating many frames because timing it just right to get the start of the ICM with good results, well, takes lots of practice.
  7. Secondary movement. Yup, 1/4 goes by quickly! So pretty much, once you click the shutter, a momentary pause, then fling, jerk or basically flip, or move the camera in another direction; diagonal up to the right, diagonal up to the left, completely horizontal left of right - the motion and movement possibilities are pretty much endless.
    8 some key points: 1. Camera/lens are already in motion before you click. 2. Then just prior to the end of the 1/4s, you flip or motion the camera in a new direction. So your camera is moving the entire exposure. And very often the actual distance you’re moving the camera is not very far. Obviously the slower you go, the shorter the movement in 1/4s. The faster you go, the greater distance you can cover by the motion.
  8. lastly, CHIMPING is required… meaning, you capture a frame and see what the motion brings you. It might take one frame and you’ll delete and move on. But then there’s that time when something comes out really cool and you want to repeat and improve.
  9. Lastly #2. Subject matter is pretty dang important actually. If you have vertical subject, you need color or lighting contrast, highlights are great… in order to get the two motion directions to record. My Blizzar 22 effect, great example. So… this technique doesn’t work well with all subjects. YMMV.

ANYWAY, I think I just wrote a Tips and Techniques… hmmm, maybe I’ll work on that.


Thanks for the comment John. I know and appreciate that the technique is one that perhaps most photographers aren’t in to. Much like many photogs don’t like silky/ghostly water exposures, etc. etc. We each have our own likes, dislikes and passions.

I readily admit the crux of ICM is just random luck. Skill? vision, creating emotional responses?.. yeah, ICM is really no different than taking 12 cans of brightly colored paint and randomly splattering on a wall or canvas… Oh wait, some call that art. :roll_eyes: LOL. Anyway, I get there isn’t much meaning behind the ICM photoraph and I freely admit I draw no deep emotional satisfaction in the process. I will say this, after pointing my camera and arranging elements in a frame that mother nature has provided… for some 50 years… well, let’s just say I’m having fun with creating something different.
Thanks for listening and taking the time to comment!

Lon, great ICM image. I don’t think it’s pure luck. It’s skill and vision on your part so kudos. To me this looks like I am seeing the forest through a thin veil or through spider webs. The image gives me this ominous feeling. I think the composition is spot on as is the processing. Keep up the excellent work!


Wow…how extraordinarily generous of you to type all that out!

And reading through it, I think my habits are mostly similar. There is one aspect I doubt would ever be the same and that’s our own individual manual dexterity (?terminology?). Not sure that’s the best choice of words to describe it, but basically, I think there are folks who have very fine motor control over the ability to create the desired movements while others’ control may not be quite so fine. And it often surprises me how often I’ll do a couple captures of the same scene with what I perceive to be minor alterations in my intended movements but the results wind up being significantly different.

Anyway, thanks again for the ‘tips & tricks’.

1 Like

This is wonderful! I love the feeling of flow to it, too. It is interesting to read that you typically use 1/4s - I have found that my technique varies with each scene/subject AND with my own speed of motion with the camera. Many of my images of forests are in the 1/8-1/15 sec range, but some are also in the 1/2 second and 1 second, which gives me time to make alternate movements. I love that this is so trial and trial again (read NO errors, just experiments that didn’t work out!) and that each image is a one of a kind. Keep at it, Lon, you nailed it here!

1 Like

Lon, How wonderful! I could not tire looking at this artistic abstract. I really like the vertical and competing horizontal or diagonal lines. It took me a while to figure out ICM - an NPN acronym I suppose. You have gotten just the right blur with your “intentional camera movement.” The diagonal light at the top right (TR, eh) adds to the image beautifully. I find your post educational and fun. Superb! Thanks.

1 Like

Love this one,
Very creative.
Love the simplicity of the image you working with.