It’s All in the Wrist
I frequently have been achieving “painterly”, abstract effects on my photos through the use of intentional camera motion. By using a neutral density filter I am able to shoot at a 2 to 4 second shutter speed which allows me plenty of time to move the camera about, effectively painting with the available light upon my camera sensor. In general the effect is to soften edges and blur the image but depending on the type of motion, different results can be achieved.
Here was the basic scene (i.e regular shutter speed, no motion) that I used for the following demonstration:
In this next image of the same scene I used a 4-second exposure and moved the camera vertically – more like tipping it forward and back using my wrists. This type of motion tends to preserve the vertical elements of the picture, such as tree trunks.
In this second image (again a 4 second exposure) I moved the camera rapidly in a horizontal fashion throughout the exposure. The effect is to soften, to blur those vertical edges. If there were a strong horizontal element it would of course have been reinforced. I like this motion for a landscape with a definite horizon line.
In this final variation I incorporated both vertical and horizontal motion – rapidly moving the camera back and forth horizontally for a couple of seconds, then moving it up and down for the last two seconds. The edges are soft and I like the grid like texture that results
Another of my standard “tricks”/requirements with these long exposures with camera motion is to increase the contrast and color saturation during post processing. Here, for example is tha last image straight out of the camera: