Several weeks ago I purchased Bill Neill’s latest digital book Impressions of Light and have spent many hours viewing the incredible images it contains. This book contains images that Bill has created with his “camera motion” technique and they are truly inspiring and have a distinct character all their own. After 35 years of amateur photography, I rarely see something this innovative and so moving (no pun intended).

I sent Bill an email last week expressing how much I’ve enjoyed his book and asking how he discovered this technique. I was quite surprised that to find out that “painting” with camera motion has been around for decades. Bill pointed me to several references such as an article he wrote for Outdoor Photography as well as links to other masters of the technique such as Dewitt Jones, Tony Sweet, Brenda Tharp, Richard Hamilton Smith and Gunnar Plake.

Learning more about this technique and looking at the incredible images in Bill’s book has inspired me. Out of 200 images I took last weekend attempting to learn this technique only one looked good enough to display.

Please let me know what you think!


Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D hand-held, 70-200mm f/4L USM with a 1.4x extender at 280mm, f/11 for 1/45th of a second at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2’s develop module. Click on the image above for a larger version.

4 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. John,

    Wow! Thanks so much for the compliment. After the hours I’ve spent pouring over Bill’s work with camera motion I just had to give this a try. I didn’t really know if this technique would work for wildlife (bird) photography but the potential is certainly there.

    I think my next investment will be a Singh-Ray Mor-Slo or Vari-ND so that I can use exposures of more than 1 second.

    Thanks again for the encouragement. You’ve really made my day.


  2. Hey Jeff,

    This is a great pan, blur, impression, whatever you want to call it…even aside from the fact that it’s from your first session of working with this technique. Bravo!

    What I love about this technique mostly is two things. The first being that it is creatively liberating. If I’m having trouble with a scene, I often find that blurring will set me off on a creative locomotive that just can’t be stopped. In a round about way it helps me to focus and break the scene down graphically. Which is the second thing that I love so much about it. It has actually improved my compositional skills with “sharp” images by noticing lines, light and differences in tone and how to organize them.

    I wouldn’t get too hung up on a “proper” way to do this, especially when what you’ve done works so well. It’s all about experimenting and failing so that you’re better prepared with the knowledge of what is going to work next time.

    Again, a job well done!!

  3. @gaye,

    The only post capture processing done was white balance correction to the Raw file in Lightroom 2. The “motion” effect was created by moving the camera on a diagonal during the 1/45th of a second exposure.

    Honestly, I got very lucky. I took over 200 exposures that day attempting to learn this “painting with light” technique and this is the only one that looked presentable. I’m not sure this technique can be applied to wildlife photography but it’s fun to practice.

    To do this properly I should have set the aperture to f/22, added a 5-stop ND filter and slowed the shutter speed down to 1 – 2 seconds. Unfortunately, in 1 – 2 seconds the egret I was stalking could have flown right out of the frame.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting!


  4. Hi,
    I was wondering, is there photoshop work on this???
    It is indeed moving (no pun intended either). I have such a long way to go, so much to learn so little time!

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