TRAVEL LIGHT

Chef-turned-pho­tog­ra­pher Lau­ren Bath headed to a chilly Nor­way to put Olym­pus’s new OM-D flag­ship – the E-M1 Mark II – through its paces.

Camera - - IN PRACTICE - To see more of Lau­ren Bath’s pho­tog­ra­phy visit www.lau­ren­bath.com For more in­for­ma­tion about the OM-D E-M1 Mark II visit www.olym­pus.com.au

Quit­ting her job as a suc­cess­ful chef in early 2013, Lau­ren Bath started out in a new ca­reer us­ing pho­tog­ra­phy to pro­mote tourism and travel, ef­fec­tively be­com­ing Aus­tralia’s first pro­fes­sional ‘In­sta­gram­mer’. Since then she has di­ver­si­fied into other so­cial me­dia plat­forms and into travel writ­ing. With a pas­sion for tourism – and her hands-on ap­proach to so­cial me­dia – Lau­ren has grown her on­line com­mu­nity to over three­quar­ters of a mil­lion fol­low­ers.

Lau­ren’s ap­proach to travel pho­tog­ra­phy is to cre­ate a com­pelling story about a des­ti­na­tion through a se­ries of di­verse images: the peo­ple, an­i­mals, de­tails and land­scapes. It’s all about tap­ping into the all-im­por­tant “dream­ing phase” of hol­i­day plan­ning.

Lau­ren re­calls al­ways hav­ing a cam­era in her hand as a child, but she says she didn’t really get in­ter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy un­til much later.

“I never had a clue about the tech­ni­cal side, I just took shots of my friends in the auto modes. I first picked up ‘cre­ative’ pho­tog­ra­phy in 2011 when I down­loaded In­sta­gram and shot on an iPhone first, fol­lowed by an en­try-level D-SLR. The tran­si­tion from a phone to a cam­era was part of the rea­son why I was so suc­cess­ful at In­sta­gram. I was shar­ing my sto­ries and pho­tog­ra­phy mishaps on a daily ba­sis and it was the per­fect com­mu­nity for it!”

Her pas­sion for pho­tog­ra­phy and travel quickly grew – to the point where she de­cided to change ca­reer paths dramatically and start a new busi­ness which com­bined all her pas­sions and lever­aged the huge po­ten­tial of so­cial me­dia to tell her sto­ries.

“Now ev­ery de­ci­sion that I make, I ask my­self will it lead to more time spent trav­el­ling, pho­tograph­ing and shar­ing? Within the broad field of travel, I par­tic­u­larly love shoot­ing wildlife, land­scapes and por­traits.”

A few years down the track and Lau­ren’s en­thu­si­asm for what she does re­mains undi­min­ished and, when asked what mo­ti­vates her to get out of bed each morn­ing, she quickly replies, “Great light! I don’t think there is a pho­tog­ra­pher alive who isn’t in­spired by beau­ti­ful light. When I’m work­ing for a client I am up be­fore sun­rise ev­ery sin­gle day and it’s al­ways worth it when you get those once-a-year ma­jes­tic sun­rises”.

Lau­ren started us­ing Olym­pus cam­eras af­ter a chance meet­ing with the com­pany’s Aus­tralian mar­ket­ing man­ager at Vivid Fes­ti­val in Syd­ney in 2015.

“Ini­tially the main at­trac­tion was to work with a cam­era brand that had the in­ter­est and ca­pac­ity to work with some­one like me. In my longer-term busi­ness model, I want mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ships with brands that align with my brand, and I saw po­ten­tial for that with Olym­pus.”

Her in­tu­ition was right and Lau­ren has since built a suc­cess­ful re­la­tion­ship with Olym­pus, find­ing both the brand and equip­ment were able to per­fectly suit her re­quire­ments as a much-trav­elled travel pho­tog­ra­pher.

“Ini­tially the at­trac­tion was def­i­nitely the weight, but I quickly found a lot more to love. Some of my ear­lier favourites in­cluded the true-to-life colours straight out of cam­era, the cor­ner-to-cor­ner fo­cus points, and the im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion which meant I didn’t have to sac­ri­fice ISO when shoot­ing in low light. Then there are the lenses! The 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens, in par­tic­u­lar, be­came my first love as it can grab a fo­cus when very close to the sub­ject and cap­tures in­sane de­tails!”

Lau­ren is also con­vinced of the ben­e­fits of shoot­ing with a mir­ror­less cam­era sys­tem rather than a D-SLR.

“Again the main ad­van­tage is ob­vi­ously the re­duced weight. Be­cause I work in travel, I am al­ways lug­ging a lot of equip­ment around, of­ten in in­con­ve­nient places. Hav­ing a lighter kit means I am more com­fort­able and less prone to in­jury… like a lot of pho­tog­ra­phers I’ve had some back prob­lems. I also love the crop fac­tor [with Mi­cro Four Thirds] that ef­fec­tively dou­bles the fo­cal length of the lenses, turn­ing my 40150mm into an 80-300mm which weighs al­most noth­ing!”

Out In The Cold

Olym­pus’s new flag­ship OM-D model, the E-M1 Mark II, has been keenly an­tic­i­pated by many pho­tog­ra­phers, and Lau­ren Bath was among the few lucky pho­tog­ra­phers who had a chance to try out the cam­era be­fore it was launched.

“It’s very pretty!” she says, only half-jok­ingly. “I’m not the most tech-savvy pho­tog­ra­pher, but at first glance the big­gest dif­fer­ences are that the cam­era is slightly larger but sleeker, and has a more com­fort­able hand­grip. Af­ter us­ing it more though, I’ve dis­cov­ered so many new ex­tras and im­prove­ments, and I am con­vinced it is a big step up from the pre­vi­ous model. Af­ter shoot­ing ex­clu­sively on the Mark II for ten days in Nor­way, it’s been hard to go back to the Mark I for my trip to South Africa.”

For­tu­nately, Lau­ren’s new E-M1 Mark II is on its way so she’ll be able to fur­ther ex­plore its many pos­si­bil­i­ties. She’s al­ready iden­ti­fied some of the features she par­tic­u­larly likes.

“The faster con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing speed is amaz­ing for cap­tur­ing ac­tion and I used it a lot when shoot­ing the Killer Whales in Nor­way. The aut­o­fo­cus is no­tice­ably quicker too, and the im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion is ac­tu­ally in­sane! I knew its pos­si­bil­i­ties in theory, but al­ways pre­ferred to err on the side of cau­tion and use tripods. In Nor­way I threw cau­tion to the wind and tried shoot­ing with some pretty slow shut­ter speeds and, if I didn’t know bet­ter, I’d swear these images were shot with the cam­era on a tri­pod!”

Lau­ren is also en­thu­si­as­tic about the new M.Zuiko Dig­i­tal PRO se­ries lenses that have been launched along with the E-M1 Mark II cam­era body, par­tic­u­larly the ED 25mm f1.2 PRO.

“I got my hands on the 25mm in Nor­way. It’s gor­geous, ex­actly what you would ex­pect from a pro­level prime. I shot some por­traits with it, and while I have yet to go through all the ed­its, I can al­ready see that they look great.”

Lau­ren says her as­sign­ment in a win­tery Nor­way was a chal­leng­ing test for any new cam­era, but the E-M1 Mark II per­formed fault­lessly… and the OM-D sys­tem also de­liv­ered real prac­ti­cal ad­van­tages.

“We threw a lot at the cam­era while shoot­ing in Nor­way – cold weather, rain and low light lev­els. It per­formed pro­fes­sion­ally and re­li­ably through­out. I came home and called these guys out for be­ing evil ge­niuses as I am so keen to merge more of my shoot­ing over to Olym­pus.

“Ad­di­tion­ally, flying was much eas­ier, as my carry-on was lighter. Hik­ing was much eas­ier as I had less weight on my back… even with car­ry­ing more lenses. I could shoot through steady rain eas­ily and I didn’t no­tice any is­sues with the cold. It’s a great up­grade; a sturdy, lovely to hold and use cam­era.”

OLYM­PUS OM-D E-M1 MARK II

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