Spring Colours Impressionism

A bed of flowers is a good subject for impressionist photography techniques. I love to hold the camera by the lens’s zoom ring and rotate my DSLR during a quarter of a second exposure. It produces a nice twirl effect. I call it the Bryan Peterson twirl, since I learned this technique from world class photographer and instructor Bryan Peterson. It takes a bit of trial and error, and you can see two of my favourites (out of about 20 attempts) below.

Colour twirl obtained by rating the camera while holding the zoom ring.

I spotted this white flower and tried to keep it at the centre of the twirl.

Colour twirl obtained by rating the camera while holding the zoom ring.

The challenge with this technique is holding the camera steady enough during the zooming, to get as regular a twirl as possible.

Another technique for creating colour abstract is to simply pan the camera over the subject during a long exposure. The movement need not be in a straight line. It’s fun to experiment with that. Note you’ll also have to experiment with how long an exposure you need, as it typically depends on the subject, the speed of your camera motion and the focal length of the lens you have. In my experience, a quarter of a second is a good start, but you may want a longer or shorter shutter speed. Try a few and see what works best for you. In the digital age, it’s easy enough.

Colour abstract obtained by panning the camera over a bed of spring flowers

In this photo, I used a panning motion from left to right while moving the camera up.

Colour abstract obtained by panning the camera over a bed of spring flowers

In this case I moved the camera from left to right over all. The upward motion only lasted for about half of the exposure.

Last but not least, the third technique I use for creating impressionist photographs is multiple exposures. I typically use the maximum number of exposures my camera allows (nine in the present case) and move the camera a little bit between exposures. How much should one move the camera and what kind of motion should one use is something that requires a little experimentation. Below are two of my favourite pics from the day.

Colour abstract obtained with multiple exposures of a bed of spring flowers

In this photo I moved the camera a little bit to the right and down between exposures.

Colour abstract obtained with multiple exposures of a bed of spring flowers

For this photograph the camera movement between exposures was a little more random.

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