Great Impressions

The Impressionist movement in art featured such notables as Monet, Renoir and Degas. When they were at the height of their popularity, the ability to match their skills using a camera was non-existent. Leap forward 120 years and the development and sophistication of modern digital cameras gives a photographer the ability to create “Impressionist” style images in camera using simple techniques.

With this in mind, last autumn I joined a group of photographers on a one day “Impressionist” workshop at the delightful Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. This place is great at all times of the year but in autumn, when the leaves turn, nature shows off its stunning colours in all their glory.

The images below are from the workshop, but instead of paint brushes, I used my camera and a couple of lenses to create some impressionist art. Techniques such as Intentional Camera Movement (ICM), Multiple Exposures and messing about with the White Balance (colour temperature) all helped to provide some strange effects. I hope you enjoy the results.

The last two images again adjusting white balance but with some tweaks in post processing to create some really surreal effects.

Intentional Camera Movement, is the movement of the camera as a whole or by moving the lens barrel to create different effects as illustrated below. By setting the shutter speed to around 1 second and introducing slow movement as below some strange effects can be created.

The three images above show the effect that can be achieved by rotating the camera slowly around a central axis, again showing how adjusting the white balance can impact the image.

Another ICM technique is zoom burst. The images below use the zoom burst technique. Setting the shutter speed to 1 second, holding the camera still and rotating the zoom barrel on the lens you can create a zoom burst effect.

Some creative ICM effects can be created by moving the camera gently from left to right or up and down. The following set of images show this effect. They have been combined with white balance adjustment. All shutter speeds are set to 1 second.

Above is the original image and yes, the leaves were that bright red colour. This location is in the Acer Glade at Westonbirt.

These three images show the effect of vertical movement of the camera with the shutter speed at 1 second.

The above images show the effect of horizontal camera movements. If you try this remember to set the shutter speed to 1 second and use slow movements. You will be surprised how long a 1 second exposure actually is! The bottom image also had the white balance set to very low, hence the blue tones.

Most modern cameras have a multiple exposure facility. This is where you can set the number of exposures e.g 2 and an image can be created automatically from two slightly offset images. This is done by the camera software.

Four images shot using the Multiple exposure setting on my camera. I set Multiple exposure to 2 images, shot the first, which then appears on the screen. I positioned the camera slightly differently to get the second image and together with the slow shutter speed and hand held, these images were created. The only limit is your imagination!

Close up, or macro photography can also provide Impressionistic images as the series of images below illustrate. The close-ups below are of Norwegian Spruce and I have adjusted the white balance again to give an overall blue effect.

All the images above have used some form of creative technique. It was a real joy to come away with something different from a workshop. I will hopefully be returning to this format in the future.

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