Scott Dimond’s “ICMMFF” series is the result of an ambitious idea and a photographic journey to see if it was even possible. Intentional Camera Movement (ICM) is a photographic technique of using a long shutter speed (exposure time) and purposely moving the camera during the exposure. The result can be dreamy surreal images with artistic surprises. Scott is using that technique to create the images in this series but there is one element that separates Scott’s images from “normal” ICM photos. Scott’s images are ultra-high-resolution panoramic photos (think prints as wide as 14.5 feet) and as such, these photos are very unique.
With the advent of digital cameras, the ability to create ICM photographs was simplified by being able to take a photo and review it immediately in camera. The camera movement necessary to create the desired ICM effect can be achieved by experimenting and taking 10, 20, or more photos until what was seen on the camera back is satisfactory. But how could an ultra-high-resolution panoramic ICM image be created? In the digital world, panoramic images and other ultra-high-resolution photos are created by combining 10, 100, or even 1000s of photos using stitching software. As the camera is moved to fixed positions across the scene, each digital photo that is taken requires overlapping content. The camera and the subject in each photo must remain perfectly still so that the stitching software can identify which photos are to be combined by finding the identical content within the overlapping photos. This is the approach taken to produce most of the ultra-high-resolution photos available from VAST.
So, if the photographer is moving the camera to create an ICM image and creating stitched panoramic images requires many photos with a perfectly still camera and subject (so that stitching software can identify the adjacent photos), how could a high-resolution ICM panoramic image be created? It would have to be done in a single exposure. But there are no 350-megapixel panoramic digital sensor cameras.
Scott’s solution to this problem was film. Yes, light-sensitive photographic film. And to achieve a high resolution, the negative (that will eventually be scanned) would have to be huge. And that is exactly how Scott created these images. For this project, Scott purchased a dedicated panoramic film camera with a negative size of 6 x 17 cm (2.32 x 6.69 inches). And although using such a camera might sound simple enough, remember that there is no LCD on the back of a film camera to instantly review what was just captured on film and how the intentional camera movement worked out. The film camera Scott is using has no built-in light meter and no auto-focus. Scott must calculate the required exposure using an external light meter and focus is done with Scott estimating the distance to the subject and setting that on the lens. In other words, until the films are developed days or weeks later and then scanned, it is completely unknown if the exposure & focus were correct, and most importantly, if the ICM movement Scott used worked as he had envisioned. It is truly an exercise in patience and one prone to disappointments. Combined with the high cost of film/developing/scanning and with just four photos per roll of film, such a project has obvious financial limitations. These are truly unique images that Scott has created: captured “old-school” on analog film with high-risk camera movements. Scott is never sure what he has achieved until the film comes out of the developing tank. But his “keepers” are enough to keep him going out with his special panoramic film camera to capture more. Scott called his project ICMMFF for Intentional Camera Movement on Medium-Format Film.