Making an Impression


I love making this type of image. On the one hand I get to experiment and channel my inner artist to create something that is unique and personal, yet on the other hand the technique used is so simple that anyone can make this kind of image.

Similar to traditional landscape photography, choosing what to include in the composition and where each element is placed within the frame in relation to each other is key… as of course is the quality of light. I look for compositions where moving the camera through the scene will define and accentuate shapes, shadows, colors and lines. To me there is almost a painterly feel to these impressionistic scenes, and in some there is a luminosity and glow when the elements all blend together. Trees are a favorite subject of mine for this style of image, and in the one above I returned to a favorite place.

The path leading from the Nature Center past the Wild Gardens of Acadia and toward the Jesup Trail takes you by some beautiful tall grasses and several stands of birch trees that, in the right light, are absolutely spectacular. I choose a shutter speed of 0.5 seconds and let the camera select the corresponding aperture that it thinks will render a correct exposure. I then pan the camera in a vertical movement while the shutter is open, check the histogram to make any necessary exposure adjustments, and then go to work on trying to capture a scene that I like.

The images below were all created using a similar technique – each was captured on a wonderful hike to Bubble Rock earlier on this same day. As I wandered along the trail, the fresh spring leaves on the canopy were being backlit by the morning sun, and the intense greens contrasting with the rain-soaked earthy browns of the trees and trail made for some striking opportunities.

I think a big part of what I like about this style of photography is that every time the shutter is pressed the result is different. I can make a dozen images of exactly the same scene, and depending on the speed and direction of movement employed, each will be unique. Though I realize that these images are not everyone’s cup of tea, I am intrigued by them and that’s what matters most 🙂

4 thoughts on “Making an Impression

    • David Patterson

      Peyton… here’s how I do it. Find your composition and set the shutter speed to half a second-ish. You can have a longer or shorter exposure time, though that will probably affect the speed of the movement you employ. I let the aperture size fall where it may for the right exposure, finding the length of time the shutter is open to be more important. Shorter exposure times tend to mean moving the camera faster, and for me this doesn’t quite work. Too long a shutter and everything blends to a colorful mush with little definition at all. Beyond that… I start the vertical panning of the camera and then press the shutter. Starting the movement before pressing the shutter makes things smoother, though again, different panning techniques will bring different results. All depends on your preference. If you hold the camera parallel to the scene as you move it you will get straighter lines (trees etc.), though if you point the camera down to begin with and sweep from the bottom of the scene through the top, the lines will curve more. Fun part is being able to view the results immediately and then make adjustments as you want to. Experimenting is half the fun, and even though these can quite easily be duplicated in PS, there is something gratifying about making this type of image in camera. Hope that helps.

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