Impressionism and Photography

One of my favorite art movements has always been Impressionism.  This quote sums up what appeals the most to me about Impressionism, the methods served to “emphasise the artist’s perception of the subject matter as much as the subject itself.”

It’s no surprise, then, that I enjoy capturing  the feeling of a scene rather than documenting how it looks.  One of the ways I do this is by a fancy technique I call “swooshing”.  There’s a more technical term for it, Intentional Camera Movement or ICM.  I much prefer to call it swooshing.

The basic technique involves slow shutter speeds, in the range of 1/30 of a second up to 1 second.  As you press the shutter you move the camera.  The results depend on how fast you move, what direction you move the camera, what the shutter speed is, your subject, the light, and more.  The resulting image depends a great deal on the play of light and color, just as in Impressionism in painting.

With photographic impressionism, there is skill to it but also a bit of serendipity.  You never exactly know what you will get.  I enjoy the combination of skill and surprise.

The more you practice, the better you get at judging what will work best but there are always surprises.  It’s definitely not a one shot and done technique. Often it takes at least 4 or 5 shots to get one that is pleasing.

For me, these images evoke an emotional response much more than static, documentary type images ever can.

This is not a new technique for me but I’ve been playing with swooshing a lot in the past few months and thought I’d share just a few of my favorites.

Fine art photograph of water reflections.

Reflections on a stream.

Fine art impressionistic photography of tree branches.

Looking up at the trees and swirling the camera while it takes multiple exposures.

Fine art impressionistic photograph of water.

Shoreline along the canal.

Fine art photograph of Yellowstone Lake.

Yellowstone Lake.

Fine art impressionistic photograph of fire ravaged trees in Yellowstone National Park.

Vertical swoosh of fire ravaged trees in Yellowstone National Park.

Fine art impressionistic photograph of aspens in Yellowstone National Park.

Dappled sunlight in a grove of Aspens captured with a vertical swoosh.

When you look at a scene, think of how it makes you feel rather than what it looks like, even if you don’t have a camera in your hand.  Record the feeling in your soul.