Marmite Photography

IMG_3214I am not quite sure when we started describing people or things as being ‘like marmite’ but I do know that I am as guilty of it as anyone else!  It is a handy shorthand for saying that the subject divides opinion, that you either love it or hate it.  Most recently, I saw the phrase in the May edition of Digital SLR Photography, where Ross Hoddinott used it to describe ‘intentional camera movement’ (ICM).  The results of the technique – abstract images that will certainly not appeal to everyone – intrigued me and I decided to give it a go.

The article suggested that beginners should try out the technique in woodland, where the repetition and strong vertical lines would ensure that the scene was recognisable, even in a final image that was blurred by the movement of the camera.

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My first attempt at ICM was at Leeds Castle in Kent.  Whilst I like the leaf shape, particularly in the photo to the left, and the texture created by the fallen leaves in both photos, I also think the final result lacks something because the trees are not dense enough.  As far as I can remember, the trees here are near water, and that also creates a slightly odd effect.

At Nymans, two weeks later, I took a woodland walk.  Designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, most of the woodland is considered ‘ancient’ because it has been wooded for more than 400 years.  It is also home to a wide range of birds, insects and plants, some very rare.  On this particular occasion, the bluebells were in bloom.

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The blue of the flowers adds another dimension to the images.  I prefer the composition of the photo on the left, with the dark coloured tree to the side, rather than in the middle, but feel that I moved the camera too quickly and have a final result that is a bit too blurred.  The movement is perhaps a little better in the photo on the right but, to my eye, the strong dark streak in the middle doesn’t quite work.


This is one of my favourite images using ICM.  The photo, whilst abstract, retains some depth, and there is very little sky, which can sometimes be a distraction. 

Bedgebury National Pinetum covers 300 acres and has over 12,000 trees and shrubs.  It is popular with walkers and cyclists and provided a great opportunity to practice the technique again.

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Again, I moved the camera a little too quickly, but seem to get away with it more this time because of the shape and repetition of the trees.  The images are more abstract and less recognisable, but I find that quite appealing.


My final attempt (so far – it’s fairly addictive, maybe because no two photos are ever the same) is quite different to the others and, as a non-artist, I love that I can create something that looks like it was drawn in chalk without having to rely on photo editing software!  As always, you are welcome to click into any of the images if you wish to take a closer look; they should open in a separate window.