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  • Writer's pictureGary Holpin

Taking fun photos fun of your Christmas tree!

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Here is a quick masterclass on how to use ICM (Intentional Camera Motion) to get creative with your Christmas tree, along with some examples of my own. I know that ICM is a bit of an acquired taste, but I love the creativity of it and the fact that every single photo is different. It's also a way of practicing with using your camera for long exposures, when it's too wet or cold to venture outside.


Set your camera to Shutter Priority

First set your camera to Shutter Priority mode. This can be found on all DSLR, Mirrorless or Bridge cameras, and even some compact and phone cameras. Shutter Priority is denoted by 'Tv' on Canon cameras and 'S' on Nikon and Sony cameras. You will also need to discover how to change the shutter speed; this is normally simply by rotating the dial on the top right of your camera; you should see the shutter speed (in seconds / fractions of a second) change on your display.

Wait until it gets dark and let the fun begin!

So that you don't need filters to get a longer shutter speed, just wait until it gets dark, turn the main room lights off and the Christmas tree lights on. Then dial in a longer shutter speed (anything between half a second and a few seconds) and try some of the suggested techniques below. You should aim to be around 50cm or so from the tree, and make sure you focus on the tree by half pressing the shutter before taking the photo (unless you're trying the out of focus technique!). You can also use your zoom to choose to include either a small portion of the tree or step back to include the whole tree.

  • Try moving the camera in a circular motion whilst the shutter is open

  • Try moving the camera in a zig zag motion whilst the shutter is open

  • Try drawing a square or a triangle whilst the shutter is open

  • Try writing the first letter of your name whilst the shutter is open

  • Try using the zoom ring on your lens (if you have one) to zoom in, or zoom out whilst the shutter is open.

  • Try a shorter shutter speed, but this time make sure you focus on something far away so that the tree lights are out of focus

  • Experiment with different shutter speeds (half a second to a few seconds) and smaller / larger movements

Can you guess?

Below are a sample of the photos of my Christmas tree that I took using some of the techniques above. Can you guess which technique was used with each one?

A landscape pAn Intentional Camera Motion photo, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography

A landscape pAn Intentional Camera Motion photo, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography

A landscape pAn Intentional Camera Motion photo, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography



A landscape pAn Intentional Camera Motion photo, by Devon photographer Gary Holpin Photography

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