OLYMPUS OM- D GET UP AND GO
It’s hard not to conclude that Lisa Michele Burns probably has one of the most enviable jobs in photography. She spends her time travelling the world, visiting some of the most exotic and inspiring locations on the planet to take photographs and write articles for her Website, The Wandering Lens. Along the way there’s plenty of adventure too, such as kayaking in glacial meltwater in Canada, driving up the highest road in the French Alps or encounters with giant icebergs off the coast of Greenland.
The idea behind Lisa’s site is to help keen photographers make the most of their travels, so there’s plenty of advice and tips about equipment and locations, especially if you decide to follow in her footsteps to Macao… or Dubrovnik… or Venice… or the Outer Hebrides. After just two years, The Wandering Lens has become the leading online publisher of photography-focused travel guides.
Lisa started out working as a journalist on a country newspaper in NSW, but then along came the “dream job” of writing for the Lonely Planet travel guides.
“After my first trip in Morocco, it opened my eyes to the photography possibilities that existed within the travel industry… and this was well before social media,” she explains. “I started shooting photo features and working freelance for a few travel magazines. Writing very quickly took a backseat because, once you get the photo bug, it’s very hard to shake!
“Working outdoors and shooting extreme landscapes is something that always makes me happy. Frozen landscapes and the underwater world are probably the two major passions I have. There’s just something so inspiring about natural elements that have been chiselled by harsh conditions or changed by tides.”
Despite enjoying the cold and ice, Lisa says she’s not a great fan of early pre-dawn starts.
“Confession. I’m not a morning person, not at all. But, if I can see there are some cloud formations with the potential to light up, it’ll get me out of bed for a sunrise shoot. That or being somewhere I’ve been planning to shoot for a long time. If that’s the case, I generally won’t stop shooting from sunrise to dusk.” A distinctive visual style is evident with Lisa’s photography, despite the diversity of her subjects, so it’s not surprising that this is something she admires in other photographers. “I’m inspired by photographers who produce a consistent style within their body of work. I love seeing a shot and knowing who took it before even seeing their name. Minimalist photographers like Benjamin Everett and Ante Badizm are two whose work exudes thought and creative talent.”
For somebody who spends so much time carrying camera gear from one place to the next, the appeal of a mirrorless camera over a D-SLR kit is obvious, and Lisa has now joined a growing
number of travel and adventure photographers who have adopted Olympus’s OM-D system.
“I’ve been shooting with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II since February, 2017. Without testing the gear beforehand, I took it with me to Iceland in winter and loved how it handled the freezing cold conditions and harsh environment. I was hooked from the first day of shooting with that camera. Initially, I was attracted to how lightweight the gear was and, of course, its weatherproof abilities plus the fact that I could use the equivalent kit I was shooting with, but fit it all into my carry-on while travelling.
“For me it’s all about the weight and ease of use while travelling. Knowing that I can go hiking, kayaking or travel for weeks with just a small bag is the best! Also I shoot a lot of underwater work so the PT-EP14 housing that lines up with all the buttons on the OM-D E-M1 Mark II has been such a game-changer for my career. Stability too, is a big factor and difference over the D-SLRs. I rarely shoot with a tripod, and the stability of the Olympus gear for shooting hand-held long exposures is incredible.”
Does she have a favourite lens from among the M.Zuiko Digital lens range?
“Initially it was the M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lens because of its versatility when shooting landscapes, but the 40150mm f2.8 PRO has really grown on me and I find I’m starting to shoot more and more details within a landscape because of its beautiful bokeh and sharpness.”
For somebody who is often faced with challenging conditions, rapidly changing light and a race against the clock, having the right equipment for job is essential if Lisa is to achieve her creative objectives when shooting on location.
“I find being comfortable with your gear is more important than anything else,” she states. “Once you’ve found equipment that allows you to focus completely on your creative objectives without worrying about if it’ll do the job, you’ll know you’ve found the right gear, like I did with Olympus. The Olympus underwater housing, in particular, has changed how I shoot underwater. It allows me to swim around and change settings as I go, rather than having to worry about dismantling the case to reach the buttons.
While Lisa encounters many epic landscapes on her travels, she says it’s the little things that actually interest and intrigue her the most visually.
“It’s the details of nature that inspire my photography. Patterns hidden within a landscape, movement in water and colourful skies. I believe photography is as much about seeing as it is capturing, and this is something that I love teaching on my photo tours and on The Wandering Lens Website. Photography really helps to open our eyes to the world around us and all the tiny, little moments that exist within a single scene.”
ONCE YOU’VE FOUND EQUIPMENT THAT ALLOWS YOU TO FOCUS COMPLETELY ON YOUR CREATIVE OBJECTIVES, YOU’LL KNOW YOU’VE FOUND THE RIGHT GEAR.”
Lisa Michele Burns with her Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II in a PT-EP14 housing