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BY TOM ORMEROD

At the end of August, I had the pleasure of running my first workshop for Olympus on the wonderful Jurassic Coast in my home county of Dorset. Olympus had been fantastic and helped get all the admin sorted and the people booked in. We had a possible 11 hours of activity planned and I couldn’t wait to get going. 

We started the session with a walk to the highest point in the Purbeck Hills, Swyre Head. The view across the Jurassic coast from the top is quite fantastic and we opted for lenses such as the 40-150mm F2.8 Pro to compress the landscape in the distance. Unfortunately, the light was a bit flat and the wind was a little too strong for the planned long lens High Res Mode shooting (on the E-M1 Mark II anyway – the E-M1X’s Handheld High Res worked admirably), but it gave me chance to introduce myself and chat to most of the group. 

After a quick refuel (pizza and a pint) and walk around Corfe Village, we headed off to our sunset location, Chapmans Pool. The wind was still against us but the sunset was looking promising. We split into 2 groups, while one group stayed on top of Emmetts Hill to take advantage of the full vista looking down the coast, I led the 2nd group down to the bottom of the cliff to the shoreline, white water and rocks. I showed the group some of my favourite compositions, explained about using a filter kit and a “lazy” shutter to capture wave motion. 1/2 second is my usual starting point then I adjust it up or down depending on the speed of the water movement. The waves were moving quite fast so I ended up using a 1/13th of a second during the session. 

After a very pleasant sunset and a slightly unpleasant walk back to the top of the cliff we re-grouped with the others and assessed the weather. The skies were clearing slowly so we decided that it was worth walking to our final location, St Aldhelm’s Head – one of the darkest spots in Dorset, to attempt some Milky Way Astrophotography. 

Thankfully, the weather was finally on our side and the skies cleared beautifully.  After a quick briefing and some basic camera settings, we quickly lined up in front of the 13th century Chapel to use it as our focal point and within 30 minutes everyone had captured a Milky Way shot. 

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, I loved showing other Olympus users around one of my favourite areas. Receiving so many positive comments from people during and after the session has been amazing. I can’t wait to do another one! 

Milky Way Photography Quick Tips: 

  1. Use an App such as Photopills or Star Walk 2 to check where and when the Milky Way Core will be visible. 
  2. Check that there is no Moon (its brightness will seriously affect your ability to capture the Milky Way)
  3. Use a sturdy tripod 
  4. Use the fastest lens you have (ideally F2.8 or faster) and a wider lens is usually preferable (7-14mm PRO, 12-40mm PRO or 12mm Prime are all excellent option) 
  5. Set your screen brightness to a minimum (-7 on the E-M1 Mark II)
  6. Turn off manual focus peaking but do use manual focus zoom 
  7. Set your camera to manual focus (if you have a PRO or Premium lens with the MF Clutch you are in luck as these work well for Astro) 
  8. Set your camera to M (Manual) 
  9. Start with ISO 3200, 25 Seconds, and your fastest aperture
  10. Manual Focus to infinity – utilise focus zoom and a bright light source (avbright Star or anything bright in the distance) and adjust your focus until it is as pin-sharp as possible
  11. Use a cable release or a 2-second timer
  12. You may want to turn the in-camera noise reduction off if you are confident in doing this in post-production to speed up the number of shots you can take

Want to see some of the attendees’ photos from the event? Click here to visit the Olympus UK Events Facebook page.