“Dahlia Abstract” by Colleen Parker

If not for the COVID-19 pandemic, this image would not have happened.

During the lockdown, all our travel plans were cancelled and even the local parks and scenic areas were closed. So the garden became my escape and a mini laboratory for experimenting with my camera as a tool for creativity.

After exhausting the literal representations of the fauna and flora, I tried tuning into the feelings that nature affords us when we spend time with a subject. I chose a flowerbed and one lens, and worked the subject from all angles and with all the techniques I know so far.

This was one of the last images I made late that afternoon, when the light had softened and the colors of the dahlia flowers glowed. Although the image looks nothing like a flower in the most literal sense, it represents a feeling of life and change. By utilizing intentional camera motion, I hoped to capture a sense of calm and optimism. 

I have since expanded my choice of subjects for this technique, and find that even otherwise mundane scenes or unlikely objects may be imbued with an abstract character which invites viewer interpretation and engagement; there is almost no situation in which a photograph cannot be imagined or made if one’s mind is liberated from norms and expectations!

I have been inspired by many excellent submissions to the FRAMES website of the ICM technique, which has as many sub-genres as photographers! The freedom to interpret artistically is a particular challenge to me, as I have a science background (recently retired as a medical health professional), which has typically rewarded thinking in pragmatic and rule-based paradigms. Now to use the other half of the brain!

What do you think are the TWO most impactful features that make your image a good photograph? Don’t be shy!

The peach/orange and teal colors are complementary (unaltered out of the camera) and the swirl of shapes leads the viewer’s eye through the image in a dynamic way.

If you would be able to make this photo once again, what would be the ONE thing you would like to do better or different?

I could never duplicate the image, as intentional camera motion results in unique patterns each time (which is the surprise and fun of the technique)! Perhaps I would try using early morning light to see how that changed the feel of the subject.

Colleen Parker shared this photograph in the FRAMES Facebook Group.


Colleen Parker, Bainbridge Island, WA, USA


Equipment and Settings

Sony A7RIV + Sony 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM at 200mm
ISO 320, f/13, 0.8 sec
Processed in LR with minimal tone and clarity corrections.

Comments (18):

  1. Sue

    August 6, 2020 at 14:49

    Beautiful and you have certainly achieved the feeling of calm.

    • Colleen

      August 14, 2020 at 16:57

      Thank you Sue!

  2. Machteld van Kappel

    August 6, 2020 at 21:43

    Beautiful. Photography becomes art with such talent.

    • Colleen

      August 14, 2020 at 17:06

      Thank you Machteld! I’m so pleased you are finding inspiration in these posts!

  3. Nigel Walker

    August 7, 2020 at 10:51

    This is a beautiful and calming image. I applaud your experimentation with new techniques and only yesterday I was discussing ICM with a fellow photographer and saying that some of the FRAMES photographs had inspired me to try this far more than I have so far. Thanks for the inspiration and such a lovely story. The pandemic has not been all bad 🙂

    • Colleen

      August 14, 2020 at 16:59

      Thank you Nigel! Your observations are a great compliment!

  4. Linda Cutche

    August 7, 2020 at 22:40

    You certainly have captured the calm within the storm Colleen and produced a wonderful image and great story. I like the image so much that it has motivated me to give ICM a go. How I love photography, you never stop learning.

    • Colleen

      August 14, 2020 at 17:01

      Thank you Linda! I’m so happy you found some inspiration here!

  5. Kevin

    August 13, 2020 at 13:08

    Thank you for sharing and introducing me to ICM Colleen. Your image evokes many emotions; made stronger by the current challenges we a face.

    • Colleen

      August 14, 2020 at 17:02

      Thank you Kevin! I hope you have a lot of fun playing with the technique!

  6. Jo Hancock

    August 13, 2020 at 14:29

    I find that I’m really liking ICM which has normally occurred with me only when I’m taking a picture out of a moving car unintentionally. And almost always due to the inability to stop due to time constraints. But the blurring of the image is so often very interesting. Your photo is beautiful. I like that you did this in your own back yard. Looking forward to seeing more of your ICM’s.

    • Colleen

      August 14, 2020 at 17:03

      Thank you Jo! The versatility of this technique has been a revelation to me too!

  7. David Brandy

    August 13, 2020 at 22:27

    Gorgeous. At first glance you could mistake it for a painting. 👍

    • Colleen

      August 14, 2020 at 17:04

      Thank you David! This is a technique for those of us who can’t paint with a brush, LOL!

  8. Kevin RAber

    August 16, 2020 at 23:01

    Colleen, I have done many images or should I say attempts at images like this. I thought I ha had good results. Your image proves me wrong. Back to the flower beds. This image has such great depth and feel. Almost a texture. Well done. It would be cool if you would consider writing something for the PXL audience.

  9. Ed Bradstreet

    September 3, 2020 at 17:00

    Very light & airy. A wonderful image.

  10. Scarlett Freund

    September 4, 2020 at 11:15

    Fantastic rhythm and flow! By coincidence, I was experimenting with intentional movement earlier today while photographing plant life in my neighborhood! My results were more monochromatic but no less satisfying. Creating slivers of beauty is one thing we can do to mitigate the anxieties of this troubled time.

  11. Menachem

    September 11, 2020 at 15:33

    Why are photographers embarrassed to say the processed their photographs far less than did Ansel.


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