In collaboration with Olympus
One of the questions I get asked the most is what camera do I use for social and blog posts and, without a doubt, it’s my favourite question to answer. While most people assume it’s and SLR, a professional or some editorial-style set-up, it couldn’t be any more humble if I tried. Because the truth is I’m an Olympus PEN kinda gal. Always have been. From day dot of this little corner of the internet I call home, I’ve used the compact camera that’s a win with thousands of bloggers and creatives thanks to its affordable price point and oh-so Instagrammable aesthetic. It’s the perfect model to up your photography game. So when Olympus kindly let us take the latest PEN E-PL9 on our honeymoon, I knew we were going to make some beautiful memories.
While an SLR promises a glossy, crystal clear finish and an end result not out of place in a glossy magazine, the Olympus PEN holds its own. With a huge catalogue of inter-changeable lenses (no matter what model you have) and snazzy technology designed for social media lovers in mind, it’s the perfect model to throw in your hand luggage (Ok, maybe not throw, it’s still pretty expensive!) and tote around your travels.
With a flip screen (perfect for selfies) and a pop-up flash at the touch of a button, it’s quick to capture the moment in lightning speed. But the best part has to be the built-in wi-fi which you can connect to any device and upload straight onto social media so you’re not relying on dodgy 3G or the hotels terrible connection. I use the Olympus app on my phone and iPad which lets you upload images immediately and use your device as a remote to take hands-free pics – how cool is that?!
We took just two lenses with us as we had a lot of wedding luggage but it turns out two was the magic number as we switched between the famous 45mm which gives that gorgeous blurred background and the 14-44mm with zoom which gave us a wider scope for those landscape shots and outfit pics. When there’s lots of people around and narrow streets, you’re limited to how much you can stand back and move around so a zoom lens is a real must to make life easier.
There couldn’t have been a better location to play with our new toy than the Amalfi Coast. With serious retro Riviera vibes and a seriously chic frame wherever you look, it’s a photographers dream. We spent the day wandering around the gardens of Ravello, meandering through the archways, hidden paths and breathtaking scenery of the ocean below, all caught on the Olympus PEN E-PL9.
Now, I’m not a professional photography in any stretch of the imagination, but I love the medium and enjoy the creativity behind the lens. It’s an artform without a doubt. But if you wanted to up your photography game or are interested in starting somewhere, here are a few hints I’ve picked up along the way both in front and behind the camera.
PLAY AROUND WITH LIGHT
Getting to know the right light to shoot in is vital to up your photography game. Different times of the year throw up all kinds or challenges, whether it’s low light in winter or harsh shadows in summer, you can create really dramatic looks with both. It takes a lot of experimentation and trial and error before you know what locations, looks and settings work with every hour of the day.
I prefer to shoot early afternoon for low light / colder months and at dusk in the summer for what is also known as the golden hour (when the sun is low in the sky and creates a super flattering glow). But I’m also loving a really shadowy finish right now so early afternoon at the height of summer can give you some real cool shapes, especially when you up the clarity post production.
GET TO KNOW YOUR LENSES…
This is SO important. I see so many people and bloggers throwing in the towel with a camera because they’re bored with it or it’s not giving them what they need anymore. I always say to try new lenses before a new camera because they can change everything. Sure, they’re expensive but they can give you so many different effects in the long run.
I love the Olympus 45mm lens for the beautiful blurry depth of field and a detailed high resolution but the 25mm is next on my wishlist for those situations where you want a snapshot without having to stand way wwaayyy back.
…AND YOUR F-STOP
As tempting as it is to point and shoot on Auto, you won’t get the control over your images unless you learn how to use all the setting sproperly on Manual. I know, it can be long-winded and who wants a hefty instruction manual as their bedtime reading? But it will be the best thing you can do to up your photography game. So let’s start with the basics
You may have heard the lingo and presumed it was a new ‘it’ bar that’s opened but your aperture is the focal point of your camera. I like to keep mine at around 1.8-2 when I’m the subject to blur out the background. It’s better when you have a lot of background behind you as you will be sharper and everything else blurrier. If it’s set too low the camera will struggle to get everything in focus and youll end up with a big blurry mess. The higher the number, the more that’s in focus.
This is where your knowledege of the right light is key as the lower the shutter speed the more light that will enter the camera and create a bright photo. If you’re shooting in low light, lower your shutter speed to brighten them up and vice verca if you’re shooting on a light sunny day, you’re going to want to bring that number down to about 800-2000
To really up your photography game, ISO needs to be your new best friend. This is the setting that control’s how senesitive your camera is to light. Therefore if it’s a bright summers day, you’ll need a low ISO whereas if you’re shooting at dusk or night you’ll want to up that number but every time you alter your ISO you’ll need to amend your shutter speed to get the right balance of the two. Still with me? As a general rule I’ll have my ISO on around 200 on a light day and my shutter speed at 1200 and play around with it until it’s right
DON’T GIVE A S***
There has to be an element of throwing caution the the wind and getting on with what you have to achieve in photography. It’s natural to feel embarassed, self consious or insecure when posing for pictures but there comes a point where you have to push that to one side and get shit done. When I first started blogging, it felt very alien to be posing on the street with passers by watching. I’d choose quiet days and times, when no one was around, but the more I did the more I really really enjoyed it.
Some of the best shots I’ve got with or without a professional photographer are the ones where there are people around because it’s real life, it’s relatable and it adds character to the shot. Although we have a complex that everyone is look and judging us, Instagram is used by 800 million people – they get it! They understand we’re all shooting for the gram – even the builders, lawyers or grandmas you pass on the street who steal a glance, they don’t care, chances are they’ll do the same later that day! It’s a moment in time that no one will remember and more often than not they’re just curious. I’ve lost count how many workman have photobombed my shots, put their arm around me or pulled a silly face, it’s funny (slash annoying!) but it’s no big deal.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Where you shoot can make the world of difference to the overall feel of your images. If it’s an outfit post, you want it to be somewhere that compliments or contrasts your clothes. For example, you probably wouldn’t shoot the best sportswear kit in a church! While Insta influencers are giving us al the aspirational feels with their hanging-off-a-cliff-casually shots, bloggers like Megan Ellaby are showing us that even the most mundane locations like roadwork cones look bad ass against a red and white striped jumper. But only because it’s been well thought out.
To get the most out of a shot, the easiest way to get a photo that really speaks to the viewer is to think about the colours. These images, for example were taken in a garden that I had no idea what it would look like so I chose a neutral outfit that wouldn’t overly clash with anything. As luck would have it, the setting was full of blues (the ocean and sky), brickwork that matched my bag and shorts and open spaces that didn’t overwhelm the frame.
Photography is a huge subject and certainly one I haven’t mastered, but one I definitely enjoy. Although the choice of models is overwhelming, the Olympus PEN is a fantastic camera if you want something fuss-free, low maintenance and easy on the eye!
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