The Art of Blur and the Wonderful World of Vintage Lenses
Rose Atkinson ARPS, Monday 25th March 24

I need to start this review with a disclaimer, just in case you don’t know – ‘I love Marmite’.
Rose said from an early age she has always had a camera; her daddy having made her first one out of wood with a ‘focussing’ bottle top when she was 3 years old. She has enjoyed all sorts of genres over the years including street, aviation, a bit of wildlife and even some landscape but, like many of us, says she hates having to carry a tripod and is too lazy to get up early for the best light.

Rose had always felt the need to be creative and described herself as a frustrated artist, so about 7 or 8 years ago she started using Intentional Camera Movement to ‘paint with her camera’. She enjoyed the painterly effects of ICM and being able to produce her own unique works of art.

Rose explained that, like most of us that try ICM, you often start with bluebells and trees using basic up and down or panning movements and then progress to experimenting with other movements to find what works for you. You never know exactly what the resulting image will look like but with practice you can have a better idea of what shutter speed and movements might work best for any given subject.

Rose does a lot of her ICM work in buildings and, for that, the exaggerated big whooshing movements often used for wide open landscapes just don’t work. For her, it is usually small circles or ‘steering wheel’ movements, but always working with her subject trying to mirror the shapes she sees. She takes time, thinks carefully about her subject: the colour, the lines, the light and what feeling she is trying to portray, whether it is capturing that sense of movement, pure abstraction, a feeling of chaos or the calm and beauty of a cathedral or a flower. Her images capture surprising amounts of detail whilst also introducing elements of mystery.

Rose showed examples of her ICM multiple exposures using different techniques including in camera multiple exposure, continuous drive bursts, walking with the camera taking multiple exposures as she goes, and the ‘Pep Ventosa’ technique (look it up!), all of which produce slightly different outcomes.

Rose finished off her talk by sharing her newfound love of vintage lenses some of which she brought to show us. Weird and wonderful they certainly were but with interesting effects, lovely bokeh, sometimes incredible sharpness or beautiful softness, all due to the inherent imperfections of the particular lenses. If you can live with manual focus, manual aperture, limited features, no EXIF data, chromatic aberration, softness, glare, etc. then they could be for you. At times however it did resemble an episode of Blue Peter with toilet roll inners and masking tape to fix the assorted clamps and adaptors to the lenses so they can be used with modern cameras. The vintage lenses are relatively cheap but Rose warned they are terribly addictive so you may need lots of storage space and plenty of toilet roll inners.

As an extra treat Rose also brought along her beautifully printed ARPS ICM panel of Wells Cathedral as well as a selection of ICM prints featuring street photography, flowers taken during lockdown and nature from walks around Ham Wall. You could recognise her signature style; fast, tight and always very controlled and you can see the artistry in her work.

The images Rose creates are not only unique works of art but also capture within them something of the essence of her as the photographer, the ‘me’ factor. She accepts that just like some art forms, ICM is like Marmite, some people love it, and some people hate it, but even if you hate it you have to admire her expertise. To really be a Master of ICM takes time and patience and Rose is indeed a Master.

- Jane Lee

P.S. If anyone feels inspired to join the club ICM+ Special Interest Group just let me know!