Capturing an elusive feeling: ICM with Noelle Bennett
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Capturing an elusive feeling: ICM with Noelle Bennett

ICM allows Noelle to capture both what she sees and what she feels.

I may be a little biased, but I believe we live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, based, as we are, on our yacht in New Zealand's Marlborough Sounds. But over time, I have become aware that there is an additional dimension to this glorious place that seems to be missing in so many of the wonderful images that we see.

I couldn't quite put my finger on exactly what that missing aspect was so I set about trying to analyse this elusive ‘something’ and decided that maybe it had something to do with mood and feeling... but that was still such a nebulous concept.

Claude Debussy apparently once said, 'There is nothing more musical than a sunset' and I absolutely agreed with that thought when I experienced this beautiful sunset. It was yet another Pelorus Sounds sunset but this time as seen from Deep Bay looking towards Tarakaipa and Maud Islands. It was a truly ethereal feeling that came with this sunset as the brilliant pink flooded the whole scene bathing both hillsides and ocean in equal measure with its rich and beautiful tones.

One evening, I was sitting watching yet another beautiful sunset from the mooring we were on near Pickersgill Island. I reached for my camera and took yet another image of a Queen Charlotte Sound sunset, and once again was mildly disappointed by what I had produced. True enough, I had captured the fabulous colours that were there but on this occasion, the sunset had manifested itself in the most beautiful soft pink colours.

Dieffenbach is quite a well-known spot in Queen Charlotte Sound. Apart from being known as a good fishing spot(!), it is also the point where the ferries leave (or enter) the Tory Channel on their crossing between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

I realised it was that soft, ethereal feeling that had surrounded me that was the missing component. I know it sounds really silly, but it truly seemed as though I had ‘felt’ that sunset as well as watched it. I simply had to find some way of portraying that whole package, something that was more than simply showing off the colours.

Staying with that beautiful golden light, this image is of the intriguingly named Puzzle Peak. It was taken from the mooring in Annie Bay, Forsyth Island which is in the fabulous Pelorus Sound where we were being treated to yet another brilliantly vibrant sunset. But this time, the golden light ‘felt’ different. It was more intense and somehow seemed harsher with more extreme contrasts apparent between those areas still bathed in golden light and those in shadow.

I had been interested in intentional camera movement (ICM) images for some time and had seen some awesome images that had been produced using the technique, but on the occasions I had tried it, I had not had much success. However, I was now wondering whether this technique could actually help to give me that elusive something I was looking for - that feeling.

This image possibly represents the golden hour at it’s most magnificent and vibrant. Taken from Ketu Bay in Pelorus Sound, the powerful waves of golden light were unrelenting as they swept over the hillsides bringing with them such an immense feeling of energy.

What followed was a lot of frustration as I tried to master the technique. I couldn’t work out how a technique that was designed not to produce pin-sharp images could be so difficult to get right! I persevered though and suddenly, it clicked. I got my first image that depicted both what I saw and what I felt. I was stoked! But what if it was simply a fluke? What if I couldn’t reproduce it?

From power and vibrance back to calm and serenity, this image taken from Cook’s Cove epitomised the feeling that came with a calm and gentle evening.

In all honesty, I certainly don’t get it right every time I take an image, but most times at least one of the shots I take in a session will give me what I wanted. I’ve even discovered that I can use ICM with flowers and through them, show a sense of exuberance... but more about that another time (perhaps)!

So, welcome to my world of feeling through photography.

I’ve included this one just to show that it doesn’t have to be about sunrises or sunsets. Feelings can also be created without the blue hour or the golden hour. The tranquillity of this scene is still so apparent here although it maybe lacks the drama and power of some of the others.
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