Editors’s note: You may remember reading an article by Alan Richardson here in September. Alan is Mark’s brother but the family story does not end there. Mark (Thackara from Olympus UK) has been talking to commercial photographer Martin Richardson, their father for a while about writing a piece on his long history with Olympus products focusing on the film models as we felt it might make a bit of a change. As the sons have been rather quicker at delivering, we decided to tell their side first. If anyone else has a similar story, we would love to hear from you. Now over to Mark Richardson…
The last few months have given me the chance to look through my photo library. What’s been interesting about this process has been not only rediscovering images from previous trips, but reflecting upon how I captured these images. I am pleased to report that Olympus technology has indeed been central to some of my best photography. Three past trips help illustrate.
The Ultimate Travel Companion
As a previous ‘RSPB Young Photographer of the Year’, freelance photographer for picture libraries including Natural Visions and regular contributor to RSPB books, nature photography is probably what I’m best known for. However, I’m just as passionate about general travel photography as I am about wildlife. On my first trip to China at the end of 2017, I was fortunate enough to visit three major cities: Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing. With a packed agenda, I wanted to avoid heavy equipment or a tripod so I turned to Olympus’s Four-Thirds digital imaging system – famous for its light weight and I was not disappointed.
In Shanghai, shooting the river view from The Bund looking across to the financial district of Pudong was a key part of my agenda, and I was determined to capture the vibrant city lights at night. I was initially very concerned about tackling this iconic subject without a tripod. Even if I’d had one, I very much doubt it would have been effective, as I was jostled around in this fast-moving and tourist-laden part of the city. To complicate matters, I also wanted to set-up for a long exposure, incorporating the very distinctive light trails from boats passing up the river. I was about to find out if the much talked about built-in axis stabilisation system would deliver and it allowed me to handhold the 2 second exposure. The camera’s sensor also coped incredibly well with a high-contrast, demanding scene. To say that I was highly impressed with the results that came back would be an understatement!
In 2017, I undertook a mountaineering photography brief in the Chamonix-Mont Blanc region of the French Alps. As a physically demanding climb, heavy equipment was once again out of the question and this trip is where the weather proofing would also be key.
Working in challenging temperatures, I was concerned about whether any camera would function without encountering technical issues. The Olympus weatherproofing system did not let me down once, and I count some of the results as among the best from my entire photographic portfolio. A particular favourite of mine was close to the summit of Aiguille du Midi, one of the higher peaks in the region. A break in the clouds offered a spectacular view across the alps, with two mountaineers in the foreground offering a sense of human perspective on this backdrop. The Olympus fast and highly reliable autofocus meant I was able to capture this scene before the quick moving cloud cover curtailed the opportunity.
A similar ‘quick-response’ situation presented itself close to Lac du Brévent. Here, I turned and saw a hiker admiring the stunning Mont Blanc mountain rage behind him. I had only a couple of seconds to shoot this image before the climber continued and disappeared behind the ridge. In the image captured, I like how the individual seems to be an extension of the rocks in the foreground and is still somehow totally dwarfed by the mountain range behind him.
Spilling the dirt (there is no dirt!)
The third illustration comes from the Isle of Skye where I paid a visit to the iconic ‘Old Man of Stoor’. One look at Instagram will quickly tell you this is one of the most popular natural beauty sights in Scotland, if not the whole of the UK. Despite this, I was determined to find an angle on Stoor that would offer something fresh. The only way to achieve this was to experiment with a range of lenses and focal lengths.
Over the course of the trip, I must have changed lens dozens, if not hundreds, of times. What really stands out for me, reviewing the images now, is the absence of any dirt on the image sensor. I can honestly say that not one image from the shoot bears any issues with ‘sensor-muck’, which can be so tedious to clean-up and resolve in post-production. This is testament to Olympus’ highly developed and field leading Supersonic Wave Filter technology. It is one of the many features that Olympus is well ahead of the competition on, and it makes shooting with Olympus equipment something of a no-brainer in this type of situation.
These particular trips are my three favourite examples of how the system really does deliver on its promises. I just hope it is not too long before I get to discover more.