A Good Day by Michael Orton

Today was one of those days.  After 35 years of car­ry­ing a cam­era I con­sider myself for­tu­nate indeed to have expe­ri­enced some of these days, when every­thing seems to align, the weather, the light, the sea­son, the loca­tion, and let’s not for­get, the pho­tog­ra­pher. After all, with­out the act of mak­ing the deci­sion to set out, noth­ing will be cre­ated. While work­ing in the stock photo busi­ness my work­flow was quite dif­fer­ent from today . My goal was to cre­ate mar­ketable con­cept images and I would research loca­tions to shoot spe­cific images. I would have to place myself in the right loca­tion, at the right time with the best light which was not always easy. Remark­ably I did have some of ” those days ” back then, but not like the ones that have occurred since I became immersed in ICM (Inten­tional Cam­era Move­ment) these last years. I have an inti­mate knowl­edge of the land­scape within a close dis­tance from home and can almost visu­al­ize before set­ting out the like­li­hood of there being the type of sub­ject mat­ter that will feed my imag­i­na­tion. And of course the more I explore the more data I have to draw from. With ICM the required “raw mate­r­ial”, unlike mak­ing a con­ven­tional pho­to­graph, is not a spe­cific object or rec­og­niz­able scene, but rather the start­ing point, like a piece of clay , shape­less until forged and formed into shape. This is the essence of work­ing in this fash­ion. It has lit­tle to do with the actual tech­nique of mov­ing the cam­era and every­thing to do with how you can imag­ine and explore that which is the start­ing point, the raw material.

Today is a late fall day. Leaves had been falling for weeks, morn­ing mists were begin­ning to appear, skies were a patchy blue. If I’m lucky this time of year lasts a few weeks. I love work­ing when there are spaces in the trees and the branches con­trast with the inter­spersed leaves. I set out to walk the edge of a river not far away. There are a vari­ety of trees, bushes and growth, with logs, large and small stones lin­ing the shore­line. (And the salmon are run­ning ) I made many more than the four images shown, but these I selected because they were made stand­ing in almost the same spot.


"A Good Day" - Image 1 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 1 by Michael Orton


Image one is the light reflected off of the leaves of a small bush , which I ren­dered into hun­dreds of shards of light with a fast cam­era move­ment and short shut­ter speed. When viewed at full size this image has remark­able com­plex­ity and blend­ing . The bush was a short dis­tance to my left.


"A Good Day" - Image 2 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 2 by Michael Orton


Image two is sim­ply fallen leaves on a spread of medium sized round stones with the sand washed from between them. They are in the shade , and the blue comes from the reflected blue of the sky. The sky had some clouds which occa­sion­ally gave me over­cast light. - 1/2 sec­ond with what I refer to as medium cam­era move­ment speed , using a some­what oblique line and chang­ing focal length dur­ing expo­sure. When I move my cam­era most often I do not swivel from a fixed point but move it in a sim­i­lar fash­ion to a movie cam­era on a track. These stones and leaves where just to my right.


"A Good Day" - Image 3 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 3 by Michael Orton


Image three is look­ing across the river . You can see the sandy embank­ment ren­dered as a soft­ened wash while the trees and their reflec­tion remain some­what rec­og­niz­able. I used an extended oval motion at 2 sec­onds to retain the ver­ti­cal lines.


"A Good Day" - Image 4 by Michael Orton

A Good Day” — Image 4 by Michael Orton


Image four is, yes wait for it, a pho­to­graph, and was taken stand­ing in exactly the same spot as # 3 . Some­times you just take what you are given and make the best of it. I took the polar­izer and ND fil­ter off, kneeled down and scooped this image from the sur­face of the river.The intri­cate, jagged lines of the reflected trees and a hint blue from the sky were to good to pass up. Hand­held at 1/125.

So yes it was a good day. One that I wish every pho­tog­ra­pher could expe­ri­ence, because when you do, it will fuel your pas­sion . This is what keeps us looking.

The video ” A Walk In The Palm Grove ” on our web­site is another good exam­ple of what can be cre­ated at one location.

There is no sub­sti­tute for see­ing… Michael

The pre­ced­ing arti­cle is copy­righted and writ­ten by Cana­dian fine art land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher Michael Orton. You can see more of his work at michaelortonphotography.com

New ICM Photography by Michael Orton

Michael Orton is one of my favourite mod­ern fine art land­scape pho­tog­ra­phers and he has just recently added new work to his web­site and revamped his gal­leries. Reg­u­lar fol­low­ers of this blog/podcast may remem­ber the 2 pho­tog­ra­phy pod­casts that he and I recorded together. The first one cov­ered a pho­to­graphic tech­nique called the Orton effect which Michael invented in the mid 80’s. The sec­ond pod­cast, recorded about 1 year ago intro­duced a brand new body of work based on Inten­tional Cam­era Move­ment or ICM.

Heavenly by Michael Orton

Heav­enly by Michael Orton


Michael has now added many brand new ICM pho­tographs to his gal­leries and his new work con­tin­ues to inspire me per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. What blows me away to the Nth degree is the crafts­man­ship of these pho­tographs and Michael’s abil­ity to See. Michael has inspired me to such a degree that last year upon his sug­ges­tion I started my own project called Impres­sion­is­tic Cities at Night. Now I’m so addicted that I troll the streets of Mon­treal hunt­ing for light. But this post is not about me, I only included the last few sen­tences because I can now per­son­ally attest to how dif­fi­cult it is to get great results using ICM — and  it’s a bloody dif­fi­cult tech­nique to get good at.

I have been research­ing and check­ing out the work of other pho­tog­ra­phers using ICM and there are many tal­ented artists out there. But to my eye, nobody’s work com­pares to Michael Orton’s ICM work in terms of impact, colour, con­sis­tency and craftsmanship.

Beginning by Michael Orton

Begin­ning by Michael Orton


I chose 2 pho­tographs of Michael’s to fea­ture in this post and Michael gra­ciously sent me the fol­low­ing infor­ma­tion about each of these pho­tographs. Many thanks as always Michael and please keep on shooting!

Begin­ning by Michael Orton — “Begin­ning  is a small path thru the woods just below where we live . These are Alder trees and the path is paved and dry with some fallen nee­dles on it . The light was over­cast and par­tial polar­izer was applied. I applied what I would describe as a tip­ping motion with one side of the cam­era mov­ing less than the other. I fol­lowed the line of the dom­i­nant tree trunks lean­ing over the path. Too much motion and the image becomes unrec­og­niz­able ( which you know I love to do) and too lit­tle and it becomes lets say predictable.”

Heav­enly by Michael Orton — “Heav­enly is a grove of Almond trees in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The title pretty much says it  all, lit­er­ally clouds of blos­soms. The trees were laden and the ground was nearly cov­ered. The sky was blue and clear and I knew that the cam­era sen­sor would see this blue to a cer­tain degree in the shad­ows beneath the trees. This  “moment”  was amaz­ing, I felt lit­er­ally enveloped, as I walked deeper into the orchard. And the scent was, well, heav­enly. I used many approaches, and as is often the case I thought of sev­eral I didn’t use when we got home and I had time to look at the images. Some­times if I am over­whelmed by the sub­ject this can hap­pen. I don’t let the feel­ing of  “a lost image ” per­sist  though. It becomes “next time it will hap­pen”. So far this has helped me to expand and tune my mind­set and develop almost ever-changing responses to the sub­ject mat­ter I encounter. In the grove I used many”.

101 — Intentional Camera Movement — Interview with Michael Orton

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast #101 fea­tures an inter­view with one of my favorite pho­tog­ra­phers, fine art pho­tog­ra­pher Michael Orton. In this pod­cast we talk about delib­er­ately mov­ing your cam­era dur­ing the expo­sure. Nor­mally, this is FORBIDDEN and you do every­thing in your power to keep the cam­era as still as pos­si­ble while shoot­ing. But Michael has a very unique way of see­ing and has again bro­ken the rules. He has cre­ated a unique and fab­u­lous new port­fo­lio of one-of-a-kind abstract land­scape images, by way of inten­tional cam­era move­ment. This pod­cast dis­cusses inten­tional cam­era move­ments for cre­ative effect.

Michael Orton is a fine art pho­tog­ra­phy pio­neer. First he cre­ated Orton Imagery, AKA the Orton effect some 30ish years ago.  This tech­nique has been used by tens of thou­sands of pho­tog­ra­phers and has become so pop­u­lar that Adobe Ele­ments 10 now fea­tures an action called the Orton Effect. I’d bet hard that Michael’s tech­nique involv­ing com­pound cam­era move­ments also devel­ops a cult-like fol­low­ing in the years to come. Thanks so much Michael!


Awakening by Michael Orton
Awak­en­ing by Michael Orton — The abstract painterly feel to this image was cre­ated IN CAMERA by using Inten­tional cam­era movement.


Michael Orton at ‘Work’ — Image by Marko Kulik


Links /resources men­tioned in this pod­cast:
– Michael Orton Pho­tog­ra­phy
Michael Orton’s fea­ture on Photography.ca
– 67 – Orton Imagery – The Orton Effect – Inter­view with Michael Orton and Dar­win Wiggett — Pod­cast #67
– Pho­tograph­ing Cre­ative Land­scapes by Michael Orton: Sim­ple Tools for Artis­tic Images and Enhanced Creativity

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