Seljalandsfoss, ICM

Seljalandsfoss ICM, The Story Behind the Photograph

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland, Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)

The photograph above, Seljalandsfoss ICM, is a favourite from our 2022 March trip to Iceland. It’s a capture using intentional camera movement (ICM) to blur the fall, in effect mimicking a long exposure, which, due to the falling snow, was impossible. 

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Seljalandsfoss is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls, partly due its accessibility (just off the main ring road), but mostly due to its stunning beauty. When we arrived snow was falling heavily, but it didn’t deter the queues of visitors at the two main vantage points patiently awaiting their turn to take a selfie. Still, just moving a little bit off piste allowed an unobscured view of the falls (it’s a challenge in its own right to create the impression that you have a place to yourself, when in reality there’s a coach load of folks to the left and right of you).   

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

 In my experience ICM is a bit of a hit miss affair. Success comes down to (a) the suitability of the scene and (b) a good amount of experimentation, with the vast majority of my attempts going straight in the bin. Seljalandsfoss seemed like a potentially good subject for ICM -  a relatively simple scene with one dominant, vertical feature; the fall itself - besides, with snow falling heavily there was really no option.

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland, ICM variant 2

The photograph was taken at using a half second exposure. I tracked vertically up the path of the waterfall opening the shutter when the camera was in motion to achieve a smooth blurring effect. The crucial thing is the speed of movement in order to achieve some blur, whilst retaining enough definition. This really is a suck it and see job, repeating the process until you have something that looks useable. It’s only when you’ve returned to base and start the post processing that you find if you have something that works. 

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland, ICM variant 3

Post processing was the final stage. For once I’d pre-visualised the  look I wanted when taking the shot: a semi abstract low key effect, with the heavy shadows contrasting with the brightness of the fall itself, the light at the top of the fall and the snow at the bottom. In the final version I added a subtle yellow filter, to give a dreamy quality.   

Seljalandsfoss, Iceland, Intentional Camera Movement (ICM)

Why is it a favourite? Well, besides the fact that the end result is an image that I think atheistically works (subjective I know) the challenge is always to try and capture something recognisable, but unique; a tough ask for such popular and much photographed place. In the case of Seljalandsfoss a bit of judgement, some experimentation and not a little good fortune, combined to realise that goal. Of all the wonderful photographs I’ve seen of Seljalandsfoss, both in preparation for the trip and since we’ve returned, I’ve not seen another quite like it.  


Using Format