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  • Writer's pictureKeith Proven

A Brief History of Mine

If you've read the 'about' me page, you'll know that I'm relatively new to the world of digital photography and indeed photography in general. Sure, I dabbled in the 'darkroom arts' back in college using my old trusty Olympus OM1n and had a series of small digital travel cameras in the early years of digital.

This picture of St Peter's Basilica in Rome was taken on a Sony A80 that had a paltry (by today's standards) 4mp sensor but also had a neat fully articulating screen that in this case doubled as a mini stand to allow for a 'handheld' 1/2s exposure of St Peters.

And to be honest, as a travel camera wee beasts like this were great for the non-photographer like me.

But it wasn't until I started work as a designer for Ortak Jewellery at the ripe old age of 40 that I began to take a bit more interest in photography. After a few years there I took over all product photography for web and catalogues and bought a Sony bridge camera - the excellent Cybershot DSC-R1 - as my weapon of choice for the task. There were a number of reasons that led me to the Sony. Although not cheap - the R1 was about £750 at launch, similar to an entry level DSLR - it came with a 10mp APS-C sensor and a non-interchangeable 24-120 (equiv) Carl Zeiss lens, the quality of which alone made the asking price reasonable. I also had a fear of digital SLRs!! It had been so long since I'd used a 'real' camera that the idea of getting a DSLR, choosing a suitable lens and dealing with settings kind of freaked me out a bit. In reality, this was almost DSLR with a fixed lens, but with full-time live view.

Although during my time using the R1 I never made use of it's RAW image capabilities, the jpegs were good as the image of the Tettuccio Spa in Montecatini Terme shows, having borrowed the camera for a trip to Italy in 2009.

But it was its abilities as a work-horse in the jewellery photo studio that I got it. And it was there I began to become more comfortable with lighting, with understanding form and with appreciating the relationship between the two. My predecessor at Ortak had used a wee flash set up, but I was never comfortable with the harshness of the images produced. So I developed my own techniques and used two fluorescent lighting units and various bits of card and tracing paper to create a softer more sculptured look to the jewellery shots.

So, there followed another 8 years of honing my skills photographing jewellery, utilising Photoshop to either sort images, add drama - the lighting could be drastically altered to suit - or create catalogue pages and in general getting to know my way around the basics of photography.

As the threat of redundancy loomed, I bought myself my first serious camera in years - a Panasonic Lumix G3. Mirrorless, tiny and with interchangeable lenses, it was a brilliant introduction to semi-serious photography. It was also my introduction to micro 4/3 sensor systems and apart from a very brief dalliance with Nikon APS-C, it's where I have remained. When #Olympus launched the OMD E-M1, I sold my Panasonic kit and fully bought into the Olympus brand, where I'd started some 35 years before.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose - The more things change, the more they stay the same! Rarely is that maxim better demonstrated than when you see my current camera sat beside my first one. The technological advancement in the camera body's internal workings are mind blowing, but the guiding principle of compact quality is undiminished.

And so I started this latest chapter of artistic endeavour. I've yet to hit on a business model that can sufficiently monetize what I produce and allow me to keep up with the latest developments to the Olympus stable (since the launch of the stunning Olympus E-M1X on the 24th of Jan, I'm now two iterations behind with my main camera!). And a recent detour into the wonderful world of #DJI drones and my wee DJI Mavic Air means that hard choices need to be made. So, in the meantime I'll enjoy the journey, do what I can to develop as an artist with a camera (any pun intended or not would be lost on most people today!!) and think of a way to get that E-M1X or the new m.Zuiko 150-400mm pro zoom lens, or the Mavic 2 Pro, or...

The first picture I took with the Olympus E-M1


St Andrews from 400ft - DJI Mavic Air

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