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BY AMANDA THRELFALL

My last visit to the swimming pool was 4th March.  My happy place.  How would I survive lockdown without it?  A long list of DIY, decorating and gardening is all well and good, but it doesn’t quite have the “feel good factor”.  Like a Knight in shining armour, Olympus came to the rescue!

As lockdown started Olympus tweeted that they were setting up virtual 1-2-1 sessions with their Gurus. I have been a long time Olympus user (and owned more of their cameras than I care to admit!) but my E-M1 Mark II was not being used to anywhere near it’s full potential. I had tried Pro Capture with mixed results and thousands of images, I had never tried Live Composite or High Resolution.  My macro lens and flash were gathering dust in the bottom of my camera bag as I had never been able to capture anything decent with them.

In all honesty my camera lived in aperture mode, with the 40-150mm PRO and 1.4 teleconverter permanently attached.  Maybe from time to time I would change the aperture, and to be honest I had got lazy. Maybe not lazy, but life had been chaotic and got in the way, there were barely enough hours in the day for the things that needed to be done never mind anything creative.

I was over the moon to receive a telephone call from Olympus Guru, David, to set up a 1-2-1. I had a multitude of questions, and David had an answer to all of them!  That was all the inspiration I needed to engage with my camera again, and dust off my macro lens. Well, kind of! “Thanks” to David I ended up with an E-M1 Mark III and the 12-45mm PRO lens being added to my kit bag.

Olympus then began setting up group Zoom sessions which have come a long way since the start of lockdown.  Clare has lots of creative workshops – art filters and multiple exposures, Lewis explodes brain cells with his video workshops, David has taught me light painting, macro and flash and Jez has inspired me with long exposure and black and white photography. New sessions are released at 11:00 every Monday morning and each week I eagerly await the new sessions.

The Gurus are all incredibly knowledgeable, friendly and above all patient!  The real plus point of these sessions is getting to “meet” the reps from other areas, and each one has taught me so much about my camera, but more than that inspired me to try things.  It feels like Olympus see their customers as part of their family and having them on hand is such a bonus. They take a genuine interest and have given useful feedback on my attempts at the various processes.

As the pandemic continues the Zoom setups and backgrounds have changed, from the early sessions which were naturally impromptu the whole presentation is now very slick and professional.  Each session is recorded and a copy provided to refer back to.

We are currently at day 155 of not leaving the house or the garden and I think it is probably no exaggeration to say without the fantastic team of Olympus Gurus I would not be in a good place. For me, I find the virtual sessions so much more useful than an in-store session. OK, I can’t hold the product, but as I haven’t found that to be a huge issue.   

It has been a fun process, and I have learnt so much.  It has been nice to interact with different members of the team, and learn so many tips and tricks.  I don’t think my camera has ever known so many setting or lens changes in its life!  Whilst we are still staying home I am trying to improve the various techniques so that once I am back outside of the house I will be confident in using them in the wild. Thank you Olympus for reigniting my creative fuse and teaching me how to get my camera and lenses working hard!!  My question now is will I have time for swimming when it is eventually safe again?

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