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Forms of NatureWednesday, September 30, 2020
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Olivier Föllmi Visionary - Tibetan temple and infinite width
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I travel – whenever possible – with just my hand luggage, only packing a few clothes, my camera and 2-3 lenses. When I was given the opportunity to travel with the Visionary Florian Lein for Olympus to Okinawa, it was crystal clear what camera I would take along – the Olympus E-M10 Mark III. I always have three lenses with me – the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm F1.2. PRO, the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm F1.2. PRO and one of my favourite lenses – the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2. PRO. They are perfect for every kind of situation.
After an only three hour flight from Tokyo Haneda and a walk through the jungle you find yourself standing with your feet in the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese prefecture Okinawa includes about hundred islands and shows remarkable resemblance to the Caribbean: deep green lush rocks and sandy beaches with turquoise blue water. Like on a postcard.
OM-D E-M10 Mark III • M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm F1.2 PRO • F5.6 • 1/640s • ISO 100
Our programme for the next few days is diverse and packed with adventure. On the first day we visit the Valley of Gangala after breakfast. This national park evolved from the collapse of a stalactite cave several hundred thousand years ago. Under the huge 150-year-old Banyan trees I feel like a dwarf. As the humidity is very high in this jungle I’m glad to have the small and light E-M10 Mark III with me whilst enjoying the nature and its silence that’s only interrupted by the chirping of the birds.
After the trip through the wilderness we are invited to the wild, colorful and musical Eisa-Dance where young girls are dressed up traditionally, sing, dance and play the drums. Their show is full of energy and tells a story that even we – who don’t speak Japanese – can understand. The E-M10 Mark III is great here because of its small size and taking pictures is almost unnoticed. The quick movements of the dancers are easy to capture with the continuous shooting function and a high quality lens such as the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2. PRO.
OM-D E-M10 Mark III • M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2 PRO • F4 • 1/1250s • ISO 640
On the traditional Itoman Fish Market the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2. PRO is also essential. Surrounded by the delicious smell of grilled lobster, oysters and clams filled with caviar I don’t know where to look first. From the point of view of a photographer all these different impressions at this market are a treasure for taking pictures. Shots taken with an aperture of 1.2 make the hustle and bustle on the market disappear in an amazing depth of field in a beautiful bokeh.
As the sun sinks into the Pacific Ocean we get a chance to observe people doing zen meditation in the Kannondo temple high over the rooftops of the city. Lighting conditions at dusk are always difficult, and especially now because the altar is dressed in bright gold, while the rest of the temple is quite dark. Live View becomes an outstanding feature of the E-M10 Mark III at this moment. Since I don’t want to interrupt the magical atmosphere with camera noise, I set my camera ISO, aperture and shutter speed to the optimum so I can capture the mood in just a few shots.
Our second day is busy too. A trip to a karate school, a pottery and the UNESCO world cultural heritage Zakimi Castle is planned. The pottery especially offers a wealth of photo opportunities and I can’t stop taking pictures, even for just a minute. Inside the pottery there is an interesting mix of light and shade and I want to get it just right. But the auto focus is struggling to accommodate to being surrounded by earthy colours with only slight tonal differences, so I switch to manual focus with a simple hand movement. The Focus Peaking on the E-M10 Mark III is very useful here; the red square shows me precisely the small area that is sharp when the aperture is quite open. It also allows me to focus on the hands creating a vase and let everything else melt into warm bokeh.
OM-D E-M10 Mark III • M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2 PRO • F3.2 • 1/200s • ISO 640
On the third day we are invited to look over a chef’s shoulder while he prepares, amongst other things, homemade pickled tofu; a Japanese culinary delicacy. Our next stop is a rather inconspicuous little house, but in the back yard we discover the entrance to a cave. Narrow stairs lead us deeper and deeper into a gigantic stalactite cave inside which homemade sake is stored for customers for between five and thirty years. More caves open up in front of us and while our eyes grow rounder I take picture after picture until my fingers are sore. Olympus' stabilisation system is impressive here. Despite the poor light in the cave, my pictures are sharp at a shutter speed of 1/8 seconds, even though the camera is hand held, without the use of a tripod.
On the fourth day we have an exciting cultural experience ahead of us, witnessing the craftsmanship that goes into producing the famous, beloved Shisa figures. A rather bulky piece of clay becomes a detailed masterpiece shaped like a Japanese lion-dog. In Okinawa you can find a pair of these at the front of every house; in all sizes, shapes and colours. Our guide Saori explains that the male lion-dog shows his teeth because he's there to defend the house against harm and danger, and the female lion-dog with her closed mouth keeps harmony and peace within the family.
Our last day, we partly spent on the boat and partly on an island expedition. It is November, the arctic winter in Berlin and we are standing on white sandy beaches and in the turquoise water wearing shorts. Hermit crabs are racing each other on the sizzling sand, moss-covered stones and rocks are lying in a small deserted bay being a great photo motive. Luckily the E-M10 Mark III has a tiltable display so I don’t have to crawl around in the wet sand to get a good angle. After „diving “into the swimming paradise in Okinawa we can admire the islands from above. From the top of a mountain of the green island Kerama you have a breathtaking panorama view. Indeed, the Asian Caribbean with its long sandy beaches and the azure blue water where the sun is reflecting on is the perfect place for photographers.
OM-D E-M10 Mark III • M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2 PRO • F1.4 • 1/160s • ISO 400
This exciting, adventurous day ends with a communal dinner followed by traditional dance. Our table is about fifteen metres from the stage and again I enjoy the benefits of the Olympus Stabilisation System incorporated into the E-M10 Mark III. With a Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO lens adjusted to 150mm I can take pictures without using a tripod; a few quick shots between soup and sashimi.
The time I've spent Okinawa has been incredible. But after days filled with sashimi, bento boxes, new impressions and several gigabytes of new photos it is time to go back home to Germany. The E-M10 Mark III was part of my professional equipment before this trip – I used it for motorsports, events and at other shoots. However, it also makes a perfect light travel camera that leaves nothing wanting. The E-M10 Mark III is without any doubt my favourite camera – offering everything the photographer’s heart desires – for beginners, travellers and pros.
OM-D E-M10 Mark III • M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.2 PRO • F5.6 • 1/125s • ISO 100
Author and photographer: Alpun Feldmeier