Inspiration from new technology

I think that play is important. It’s important to allow yourself to be creative and just PLAY sometimes to see what happens. There is no penalty for experimenting with a digital camera. You never know what you might create if you just try whatever comes to mind. And that is exactly what I did with the new Olympus E-M1 markIII in Peru when I co-led a photo workshop there for Wildside Nature Tours.

Written By Rob Knight

On March 5, 2020
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It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all of the bells and whistles in modern cameras. Sometimes the camera manufacturers don’t show enough examples of a new feature, and its hard to tell what you’re supposed to DO with these exciting new features in real life. Maybe the examples you see don’t seem to apply to the type of photos you like to make, so you move on without trying the new features. OR maybe you just don’t know how to use the new features and it isn’t fun. 

When I received an advanced copy of the Olympus E-M1 markIII I was charged with demonstrating the new machine to several members of the photography press. Since I started teaching I have always been motivated to try and keep up with the current tools and techniques, but this time it was really important for me to understand what the new features are capable of so that I could really show them off. That press trip taught me a lot about some of the features that I had access to in the Olympus E-M1X, but that I hadn’t really played with.

I think that play is important. It’s important to allow yourself to be creative and just PLAY sometimes to see what happens. There is no penalty for experimenting with a digital camera. You never know what you might create if you just try whatever comes to mind. And that is exactly what I did with the new Olympus E-M1 markIII in Peru when I co-led a photo workshop there for Wildside Nature Tours.

The featured image in this post was created using Live Comp with the Olympus E-M1 mark III. I wanted to capture the light as our guide was acting as both headlight and wildlife spotter during our sunset cruise down the river. I thought it might look cool to create a composite image, so I set up the shot. I was hand holding the camera and doing my best as the boat rocked and bumped. I think the result is a unique depiction of how it felt to be on the boat that night, and I was able to capture it thanks to experimenting and playing with my camera.

Live ND in the E-M1 mark III

The Live ND feature in the Olympus E-M1X and now the E-M1 mark III allows you to use the processing power in the camera to simulate a 1-5 stop neutral density filter. This allows you to slow the shutter speed for those silky effects you tend to want for shooting waterfalls without needing to carry filters to put in front of your lenses. 

I challenged myself to use Live ND in several different situations as a means to show motion in my photos in a different way. The following examples are some of my favorites.

To use Live ND the camera must be in either Manual exposure mode (M) or Shutter Priority mode (S). You can set the strength of the ND filter under Live ND in the Camera2 menu. You also have the option to preview the ND effect in the viewfinder so you can see an idea of the blur you will get in your photo at the current setting. Several photographer I spoke to find the preview distracting, but I can go either way. Be sure to hold the camera as steady as possible since you will be working with slower shutter speeds. The IBIS works like magic, but you should always strive for good technique.

One of my favorite things about Live ND is that I can use it with any lens. If you have ever tried to use ND filters or a polarizer with a super-wide lens, then you know how great it is to be able to get the same effect without special hardware.

Hand Held High Res in the E-M1 mark III

Another feature the E-M1 mark III inherited from the E-M1X is hand held high res mode. The camera will capture 16 images and stitch them together in the camera to give you a 50mp raw file. Other Olympus models have this feature, but only the E-M1X and E-M1 mark III allow you to shoot high res without a tripod. I love the ability to capture a high res file for landscapes and other applications when I might want a bit more resolution.

You can access the hand held high res mode using the drive mode button or the SCP. Set the exposure as you normally would and use your best technique for holding the camera still. The camera will capture the exposure it needs and you will see a progress bar as it stitches the final image together.

In my experience the HHHR mode does a great job with moving water. I have rarely seen any strange artifacts from merging, and it actually adds a nice blurred effect in most cases. Trees and leaves that are blowing in the wind may cause ghosting in the merged image, so be mindful of that while you’re shooting.

I like to use HHHR mode with different aspect ratios. I will sometimes shoot in 1:1 or 16:9 depending on the subject, and HHHR mode still makes close to a 40mp image. I like to be able to see the crop in the viewfinder as I’m composing and shooting. If you open the cropped raw file in the crop tool in Lightroom the entire frame is still there anyway 😉

The moral of the story? Go play! try some of the bells and whistles in your camera. Let the tools inspire you and see what you can learn. If you practice with new tools it might lead you to an amazing idea. I’m excited to see what you can come up with!

2 Comments

  1. Van Hill

    Thanks for the tip. I have tried the Live ND with a waterfall, but you have given me some more ideas for using this filter. I will also practice with the HHHR feature. Thanks again. I need to play with the camera more often.
    Van

    Reply
    • Rob Knight

      My pleasure, Van! I would love to see what you come up with.

      Reply

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