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Depth of Field: The Story Behind the Image

Editor’s Note: Those of us who are fortunate to see Chris Murray’s photographs in our email or on Facebook, will know that he often gives us a very different perspective to “point and shoot” photography.  We asked Chris if he would share some of his techniques with us over the winter. Enjoy.

“Photography is the easiest medium with which to be merely competent. Almost anybody can be competent. It’s the hardest medium in which to have some sort of personal vision and to have a signature style.” ~ Chuck Close

It has been said that art is a product of human skill and imagination. With photography, the first half is relatively easy; most anyone can become competent, given enough time and practice. The imagination part, our vision, is infinitely more difficult and can take a lifetime to develop.

Autumn Impressions C Murray

Title: Autumn Impression, by Chris Murray

Exposure Data: 1 sec, f/16, ISO 500

Nikon D800 camera, Nikkor 70-300mm lens at 165mm

A visit to the Otter Creek Preserve in Alexandria Bay, one autumn afternoon, found me gazing-out over a cattail marsh at a stand of maple trees ablaze in red and orange, on the other side. I had visited this spot previously and made a pretty, but rather cliché fall foliage image. Believing there was a more creative and interesting photo to be found I employed a technique I had recently learned, known as intentional camera movement, or ICM. With ICM, the idea is to move the camera, as the image is being exposed, resulting in an intentionally blurry photo. Original Autumn C Murray

The results can be quite striking, often resembling an impressionistic painting. I adjusted my aperture and ISO settings to give me a one-second exposure, long enough to move the camera as the image was exposed. Hand-holding the camera (something I rarely do, I almost always shoot on a tripod), in the vertical position, I panned-down as the shutter was open. It’s a trial and error process and I made at least a dozen exposures, before I found the one with the most impact.

I have found it interesting that no one who looks at this image can tell what it is, and I like that. More than an abstract photo of cattails and autumn trees, it is a study in harmonious colors, shapes, and textures.

By Chris Murray

Chris Murray is a full-time photographer, instructor, and writer. His work has appeared in several magazines including Popular Photography, Shutterbug, Adirondack Life, Life in the Finger Lakes, and New York State Conservationist, among others. He is a staff instructor with the Adirondack Photography Institute. API’s 2019 workshop schedule is now available at For more of Chris’ work visit

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