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PRO STORY: DAVE JAGGER

After a knee injury threatened to put an end to his photographic journey, Dave Jagger found switching to Olympus put his picture-taking into the fast-lane…

Life is full of twists and turns, but some can be more painful than others. When Dave Jagger retired ten years ago, he suddenly had the time and energy to push his lifelong love of photography to the next level and soon started a wedding photography business. But after injuring his knee while on holiday, it was clear his days of lugging heavy kit around and crouching down for low angles on the wedding dance floor were over. In short, it looked like Dave’s passion was about to be extinguished long before its time.

A big change was needed and the first step Dave took was to enrol on one of Olympus UK’s popular photography courses, covering portraits and lighting (visit: www.olympus-imagespace.co.uk for details of current activities). This guidance and encouragement got Dave’s image-taking back on track, and introduced him to the Olympus Micro Four-Thirds system – a lightweight alternative to the back-breaking bodies and lenses that were now troublesome for Dave to manage post-injury. The mentoring course not only refreshed the basics of photography but also pushed Dave’s theory and skills forward, covering advanced lighting and fine-art portraiture too. However, it would be a chance encounter that would help Dave find his true calling: “I was driving down the M62 one day with my wife and out of the corner of my eye I saw motorbikes jumping through the air from an adjacent track. I had my Olympus OM-D E-M5 in the car, so I just had to investigate. I stopped at a service station, bought my wife a book, and she patiently sat in the car for four hours as I took photos of the action,” remembers Dave. His passion for motorsport is intrinsically fused with his love for photography; “I’ve never ridden a bike or jumped through the air on one, but I’m drawn to the photos you can capture at these events.”

Dave’s approach to motocross helps the 58-year-old set himself apart from other photographers. “The way I can keep the rider sharp, but blur the wheels – everything to convey a sense of speed and motion in the frame – interests me. Some photographers focus too much on freezing the image so you can count every spoke on every wheel. You need to feel the movement in the frame, you need to show the scale of the location, how high the rider has risen into the air – this is what makes good action images.”

Motocross photography brings its own unique set of challenges, mainly due to access and safety. Dave explains that good people skills are needed too, not only to build a good working relationship with the track owners to access better viewpoints on the course, but also to form relationships with the riders themselves – many of who purchase images of themselves taken by Dave.

Although he started shooting on the Olympus OM-D E-M5, Dave soon traded up to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II and now uses the newest flagship in the series – the Olympus OM-D E-M1X. It’s a camera designed in particular for those with a need for speed, making it the ideal choice for this fast and frantic sport that’s packed with danger and excitement. So what were Dave’s experiences of using this cutting edge-model? “The focusing speeds are on a whole new level and this really makes a difference out on the track,” he reveals. “And while some photographers have pointed out it’s bigger than other O-MD cameras, I’ve always used a grip with my OM-D E-M1 Mark II, so that doesn’t bother me. In fact the whole design is far better geared towards my kind of photography. For example, swapping out the batteries is much easier with the OM-D E-M1X, which is important when out on a wet, cold track.”

Another feature that appeals greatly to Dave is the OM-D E-M1X’s weather-sealed body. “I see photographers cladding their cameras in covers when the rain starts to fall and I just don’t need to do that”. This is an incredible testament considering the amount of mud and dirt motocross bikes kick in the air, especially in poor conditions.

When it comes to optics, Dave’s go-to lens is the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 40-150mm f/4-5.6 R – a weather-sealed professional-grade optic that gives an effective focal length of 80-300mm. Dave uses it with and without a teleconverter, depending on his distance from the track and the effect he wants. When more pulling power is required, he’ll switch to the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO, which gives an effective focal length of 600mm, boasts image stabilisation and weighs only 1,270g, considerably lighter than prime lenses from other brands. A smaller, lighter outfit means Dave can also fit lighting kit in his gadget bag so, alongside his action photography, he can also capture portraits (or sportraits as Dave calls them) of riders and their bikes. “I picked up lighting skills on the Olympus portrait courses and so take a couple of Godox lights with me to the tracks,” he explains.

So, after finding a passion for motocross photography and a camera system that enables him to continue doing what he loves, what’s next for this talented shooter? “A lot of my photography comes from the motocross practice days as that’s when riders are experimenting with technique and you tend to get the best images. But I’ve already shot a lot of races and I’d like to move on from the more grassroots events, get proper accreditation and start shooting at bigger motorsport venues.” While the knee injury proved to be a fortunate pitstop in Dave’s journey, his talent and determination, along with his Olympus OM-D outfit, have placed him in pole position to take his photography to the next level and achieve his goals.

Join the revolution!

The OM-D E-M1X is Olympus’s flagship sports and wildlife camera, designed and built to succeed in the highly demanding world of action photography. Built for professional use in the harshest of environments, the OM-D E-M1X still maintains the lightweight attributes made famous by other OM-D models like the E-M5 and E-M1 Mark II, but also brings the benefits of an extended battery capacity (the integrated grip can hold two batteries), industry-leading weather-sealing and a sophisticated 121-point cross-type phase-detection autofocus system. Packing a five-axis In-Body Image Stabilisation system (IBIS), a 20-megapixel sensor and dual TruePic VIII engine processors, the OM-D E-M1X is able to deliver excellent image quality at lightning-fast speeds, and the capability to shoot at up to 60 frames per second, along with the ability to capture ultra high-quality movies in 4K resolution. If you’re looking for a lightweight, rugged and capable outfit that can handle any situation, check out the Olympus OM-D system at: www.olympus.co.uk. Or, better still, you can try out an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II or OM-D E-M1X for free at: www.OMDtestdrive.co.uk