It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Ain’t Got That Swing.


Been to all your favorite places and taken the same old shots you do every time?

Spice things up a bit and get your camera on the move to put some abstract into your nature photography.

Feeling adventurous?

Do like I did for the image below and grab your camera by the legs and give it a swing.

Tripod legs that is.

But before you do, make sure all the leg sections of your tripod are tight, the camera is securely tightened on the ball head, and you have a god grip on the tripod. Nobody wants to see their camera go sailing into the river, right? A remote shutter release comes in real handy too. I was able to swing the camera and then press the shutter button on the remote, mid-swing.

I had to practice swinging the camera out over the water a few times before I got the look I wanted, but it was a heck of a lot of fun seeing the different results.


River Bend

And if you’re not adventurous (crazy?) enough to go swinging your camera around by the tripod. Just loosen the head and pan the camera from side to side with the tripod firmly on the ground.

Forest Floor

For that matter, you can just hand-hold the camera and give yourself a spin.

All I Wanna Do Is Zoom-A-Zoom-Zoom-Zoom.

Another way to get your abstract on is zooming the lens during exposure. The effect kind of looks like you’ve just hit warp speed.

So frame up your shot and give that zoom ring a twist.



Green Leaves


Tips For Having Fun With Camera Motion.

When creating abstract nature images let your imagination be your guide, but I’ve learned a few things in my experimentation that might take some of the guess-work out of it for you.

1~ For zooming, having the camera on a tripod is going to be way easier than trying to hand hold it.

2~ Stop the lens way down. You want a fairly slow exposure time to allow you to maximize the effect, either the panning/swinging or the zooming. Too fast a shutter speed and the look won’t seem intentional. It’ll just look like accidental camera movement or an out of focus image.

3~ Since the zoom effect will always be from the dead center of the frame, you’ll want to center the main subject. You may then need to adjust the crop for a more pleasing composition. Having the effect start in the center of the frame in every single photo you take using this technique is going to get boring pretty quick.

4~ Experiment. With all of it. Shutter speed, swing/panning speed, and zooming speed. Also try zooming in and out during exposure.

5~ If you are crazy enough to swing your camera on the end of your tripod, make darn sure everything is tight. Especially your grip on the tripod legs.


To see more “On the Move,” visit the Weekly Photo Challenge.

35 thoughts on “I Like To Move It – Move It!

    1. Thanks again Laura. It’s something I’ve tried before but never put much effort into it. Today I when I came across a bunch of painted trillium I wanted to do something different since I’ve already photographed that particular wildflower many, many times. Then I really started to play with swinging and pivoting the camera.

  1. The film camera (Pentax PZ-1) that I was using before I embraced the digital world had an option to program the camera and lens to zoom during a long-ish exposure. I experimented with it a few times, with a few very promising results, but it was too frustrating to wait until I could develop the film to see what I’d captured, and somehow I lost interest. But the I found the idea exciting and intriguing, and I thank you for rekindling the old spark of interest. We all need new challenges, and I’ve added it to my project list!

    1. It is really fun with the different results you can get with camera motion. Every time I see it I think “I need to do more of that.” But then I get sidetracked. The new thing for me yesterday was grabbing the tripod by the base of the legs and swinging the camera. That was pretty fun. Though if anyone saw me doing it, standing there on the side of a stream in the woods, swinging and spinning around with camera, they may very well have thought I was nuts. πŸ˜›

  2. Great tips! I’m not sure I’m ready to swing the camera by the tripod legs (!), but I’m gonna have a go at zooming during exposure. That leaf shot is warp 9 for sure.

    1. Thanks a lot Elizabeth. You can get pretty much the same effect by holding your camera, in both hands. For the first shot I wanted to get out over the water to capture the vibrant green of the vegetation poking up through the pine needles, and the water flowing by. The only way to do it was to extend the tripod and swing away.

      I wonder what my insurance agent would say if I had an “accident” with the camera? πŸ˜‰
      Let’s hope I never have to find out!

  3. Brave guy … I’d be afraid I’d lose my hold on the tripod … but the outcome is so awesome, I’m going to have to give this a shot sometime!

    1. I did slowly work up to swinging the camera by the tripod, but I feeling a little adventurous at the same time. Also, I wasn’t swinging it like I was trying to hit a home-run. Just a nice gentle arc out over the waters edge. I was checking every knob on my ball head, and the tightness of ever leg section on my tripod between every attempt. Just in case πŸ˜‰

  4. You had me at “hello” and lost me at the hold the tripod and swing your camera. haha. NO WAY. i’m too paranoid for that. Great article. I need to try your suggestions. When I have done it in the past, it just looks like I didn’t focus correctly. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Tom! It isn’t that bad, just make sure you’re holding on, tight. And your insurance is paid up πŸ˜‰

      I now what you mean. A lot of the results will never be seen by anyone but me. I experimented a lot with focus point, aperture, how fast/slow to move the camera or the zoom ring on the lens. A lot of unusable crap was made Saturday morning I can tell you that!

  5. Wow!!!! These are so neat! I really want to try this now…though dropping the camera makes me nervous. I love your creativity. Thanks for sharing your tips with us!

    1. Thank you very much! The zooming effect is easy to do, and not in the least life threatening to your camera. And while the swinging/moving the camera trick is a little more risky, it was worth it for me to break up the monotony of a rainy morning out with my camera. Just start small, holding the camera in both hands when you first try it.

    1. Thanks! That’s the result of being slightly bored of the same old subject matter. I’m hoping to do more outside of my normal range of subject matter this year. And this was just the start. Even with my normal subjects, I intend to try to photograph them in different ways.

      Of course there will still be plenty of the nature and landscape photos too πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks! Same here. The painted trillium wildflower is one of my favorites, but having photographed it so many times I was looking for something different to try. Old subjects, new ways πŸ˜‰

      Great shot. No they don’t, I deleted a lot of crap from Saturday mornings shooting. Half the fun is in the experimentation though!

      As for the song, you’re welcome πŸ˜›

  6. Wonderful motion captures, Jeff. This is something I need to experiment with more. A while back I came across a site where someone was stopping the camera way down, adding NDFs, and then hanging out of building windows to swing the cameras around on ropes! I admit the effects were cool, but that would shred my nerves. Great post!

  7. I tried the zooming thing a few years ago, its not really my style and neither is the idea of swinging my camera by the tripod legs!

    Too far outside my comfort zone πŸ™‚ Let me lie here in the wet sheep shit and take photos of mushrooms instead~

    1. Yes, the zooming thing is an acquired taste, and not something I do often. But for a change of pace I like to try it every once in a while. Camera movement on the other hand is something I really want to do more often.

      There is nothing wrong with getting down and dirty for your photos. When there’s no snow on the ground for padding, I wear, or at least have with me, knee pads on almost every photo outing πŸ˜€

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