Gerry van der Walt - Creative Wildlife Photography

Visions of Nature

Gerry van der Walt All Authors, Gerry 9 Comments

There comes a time out in the field where the light drops and the ability to create sharp images become rather challenging if not impossible.

At this point one of two things happen.  People either pack their cameras away or they keep trying to create images by trying to hold still, fighting for light or using artificial light which brings it’s own challenges.

There is another option which, the moment the light and shutter speeds start dropping, becomes a great way to create wildlife and nature images and paint with light.   The same slow shutter techniques I wrote about in this post can be used to create visions of nature and extend your shooting  time well past when you would normally pack your gear away.

By using a technique called intentional camera movement, or ICM, you can make incredibly striking images with even the most ordinary subjects.

The idea is quite simple.  With a slow shutter speed, something which is quite easy and pretty much a given at the end of the day, you move the camera around in order to literally paint shapes and forms into your image.  Small circles, side to side, up and down.

The options are endless and the results can be amazing!

Gerry van der Walt - Creative Wildlife Photography

Circular camera movements with shutter speed of 1/5.

While waiting for a leopard to come back to her kill we were sitting on the vehicle with nothing to photograph.  The light was fading fast so we focused on a small Bushwillow tree close to us and started playing.  The bright colours, very soft backlight and small circular movements made for a very striking and visual frame.

While moving your camera around in different ways keep firing away.  As with the panning and radial blur images I mentioned in my previous post there is a huge amount of luck involved with these kind of ICM images but that to me is half the fun and beats the hell out of just sitting there waiting for something to happen.  This is making images not just taking them.

When you then get back to you computer and open the files in Lightroom you will find that some images need to be tossed out immediately but the rest can make for, based on the different movements you were doing when you clicked the shutter, amazing and very striking visions of nature.

Gerry van der Walt - Creative Wildlife Photography

One scene, many different results.

Due to the nature of ICM photography static subjects will always work better with a higher strike rate but by taking this technique and applying it to wildlife subjects you will also get great results from that time in the bush when a crisp images is just not quite possible any more.

Gerry van der Walt - Creative Wildlife Photography

Small side to side movements while panning along at 1.3 sec shutter speed.

I get that this is not everybody’s cup of tea but in my mind playing with techniques like this will accomplish three things.

  1. You will get to shoot well past the good light and end up with more images which is, after all, why we go out there.
  2. Playing around with techniques like this will give you a better understanding of shutter speeds and the results you can achieve.
  3. It’s fun.
Gerry van der Walt - Creative Wildlife Photography

Very small circular movements while panning along at a shutter speed of 0.5 sec.

The light was all but gone when I shot the above frame.  There really was no point in pushing ISO through the roof to get just another giraffe image and throwing a spotlight on the subject wasn’t an option at the time.

Instead of calling it a day I decided to create this image.

I’m happy I did.

Until next time,


About the Author

Gerry van der Walt

I am a private and specialist photographic safari guide, public speaker, co founder of Wild Eye and wildlife photographer. Visit my website at or follow my journey on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter a look forward to changing the way you see the world.  I also host a Wildlife Photography Podcast and I Vlog!

Comments 9

  1. Carol Bell

    Thanks Gerry… spent all day in Kruger at Mpondo dam yesterday (7hrs). Was dark on the way there … saw lion with cubs and dog…. tried raising my ISO very high on manual…. dont like the results….. now I will play!

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  2. Jacques

    Very interesting. You are absolutely right with 2 things:

    1. We are tend to pack our cameras away when the light fades. This blog gives me a new perspective – Time to play when others goes to sleep.
    2. As you said, not everybody’s cup of tea. However, I did indeed enjoy the one with the leopard. I have a similar one with a jackal and lion that I am going to pull out of the archives this weekend and relook.

    Maybe a beinspiredby for the future?

    Thanks for great article.

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      1. Jacques

        Thanks, have a great weekend too. Just to add on my comment above, my 2 attempts with the jackal and lion was not planned. Just got it horribly wrong when I took it but now with this in mind, they might not be that horrible after all. 🙂

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  3. Martha Myers

    Entirely too cool, especially the leopard and the first image, which has wonderful colors and is reminiscent of an impressionist painting. We’ll have to try it in the Mara.

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  4. Pingback: Just Play - Wild Eye

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