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Robin Whalley Interview With ePHOTOzine

Robin Whalley Interview With ePHOTOzine - Olympus shooter Robin Whalley talks to ePHOTOzine about his Olympus switch, the outdoors and more.

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Last summer after attending an Olympus course, photographer Robin Whalley put his full frame Canon 5D MkII and L-Series lenses up for sale and switched to the Olympus OM-D E-M5 system. A few months on, we've caught up with Robin to see how he's getting on with his Olympus kit and as his images will be featured on Olympus Image Space a lot more over the coming months, we thought we'd take the opportunity to find out more about the man behind the lens.

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To find out more about Robin's course experience and his initial thoughts on the Micro Four Thirds system, take a look at our previous article: Robin Whalley Is An Olympus Convert

If you'd like to attend an Olympus workshop / event or just want to see what's on, take a look at the Olympus Booking Hub

So, how have you found the OM-D since you changed systems? Have you found any more advantages of shooting with it?

"The immediate advantages I found with the OMD is the small size, weight and it's also quite inconspicuous. But there are quite a few other advantages I find:
  1. The build quality is excellent. It's really well built and feels like it will last so I am not scared to use it as a tool. The splash proofing also helps and I have used it in some pretty appalling weather.
  2. The image quality is superb and the images are full of detail. I have no hesitation printing the images at A2 and reach for this camera whenever I want to ensure I have images of the highest standard.
  3. The colours produced from the RAW files are very nice indeed and have a wonderful natural feel to them.
  4. The lens quality in the Micro 43 line-up is excellent and also very affordable. The Olympus 45mm lens I have for example is incredibly sharp with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. This makes it a wonderful portrait lens that on a full frame camera would probably cost in the region of 5 times the price for something of equivalent quality.
  5. I can use 67mm filters with the lenses because they are so small (some people may know these as A-series filters). These are a lot cheaper than the 100mm filters I used to use so when I scratch a filter it doesn't cost the earth to replace.
  6. The image stabilisation is excellent and I can get exceptionally sharp images at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5 second. This means I am not tied to a tripod even when shooting at sunrise or sunset especially when you consider you can achieve great depth of field at f/7.1."
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Did you replace your lenses as well as your camera and if so, what lenses did you replace?
"After I got the E-M5 I ended up selling all my Canon gear including the L-Series lenses as well as my Medium Format film equipment. My Panasonic GX1 which I used as a travel camera was then converted to Infrared and I invested in a full range of Micro 43 lenses. I now have great coverage in both zoom and primes.

My favourite lenses are the Olympus 9-18mm, Olympus 45mm and Olympus 60mm Macro lens. The Macro lens is simply amazing. It's great for close up work as you would expect but it makes a superb long lens as well.

I also purchased a fish eye lens but I haven't really used it much.  I do have a project in mind when I can find the time to shoot it. I now have my eye on the new Olympus 25mm prime which is due out soon, or may even be out by the time people read this.

The other thing that I bought is the 2 part grip for the E-M5. This isn't essential but it makes the camera really well balanced. It's also in integral part of my panoramic set up but I will explain that in more detail another time."

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How did you get into photography, when did you get into photography and why do you enjoy it so much?
"I remember looking through my mum's mail order catalogue when I was 5 or 6 and wanting a camera so much. I have no idea why but I wanted to take photographs. I saved my pocket money and when I was 7 bought a Kodak  Instamatic 33 (which I still have). I used to love taking photographs but I was only ever allowed to really use it when we went on holiday - film and processing was expensive back then.
I then remember as a teenager seeing the images in the now closed Athena chain of shops and being amazed that there could be places so beautiful and perfect in the world; or at least that's how they seemed at the time. This led me to toy with the idea of buying an SLR but they were very expensive and everyone I talked to told me they were very difficult to use and that I would probably be wasting my money (I was definitely getting bad advice and should have asked a photographer).

It wasn't until the year 2000 when I was working as a Project Manager for a software development company in London, that one of the programmers on my team was selling an SLR. I bought it and was immediately hooked - I can't explain why but I think it was connected to my past experiences. I started buying book and magazines and working hard to improve my skills. At the time I was shooting film and achieving consistently good results was quite challenging when I compare it to the digital cameras I use today.

It's difficult to explain why I like photography so much as it's probably a combination of things:
  1. I like the technical side of taking photographs and think it appeals to the logical side of my personality. My background is computing and I used to develop game software as  a hobby back in the early 80's.
  2. I like the idea that I can control the technical aspects of taking the photograph and combining this with creating something artistic. For example I can use techniques such as shallow depth of field or slow shutter speed to create an artistic effect. These are all very logical techniques but you then take these to create something artistic.
  3. I also like the post processing. For me, it's almost like painting or drawing to create a work of art. I make no apologies for the fact that I manipulate the images as that's my work flow and where the artistic creation really comes in.
I get a real buzz out of the creative process, especially when I feel I have got it right."

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What made you focus your photography on landscapes in particular?
"I have always enjoyed being outdoors, especially in locations that are spectacular or dramatic. As a young child I remember that used to look through magazines and the atlas we had at home, wondering if the places I was looking at really existed. I grew up in the 70's and I was 21 before I finally managed to travel abroad. Most of my early life was spent around Manchester so these faraway places seemed exotic and completely out of my reach.

Since then the world has become a small place but my love of the outdoors, travel and spectacular locations has only increased. I think it's this that has moved me towards Landscape Photography.
When I see a scene these days I tend not to see it as others do but I am pre-visualise it as a finished image. I can get so excited about seeing a certain type of light on a hillside that people with me will wonder what is happening. I think the more I have photographed Landscapes the more my fascination and appreciation of them has increased.

In the past 7 or 8 years I have also become drawn to the urban landscape and modern architecture in particular. But again I think it's the quality of the light you can get as it interacts with the glass and steel. There's nothing like the beauty and challenge of photographing with natural light."

Visit Robin's website - www.thelightweightphotographer.com - to see more of his work. 

ePHOTOzine will be featuring more of Robin's images taken with Olympus gear as well as his thoughts on Olympus kit and other photography related subjects on Olympus Image Space.

Robin will also be helping ePHOTOzine with a monthly competition where the winner will receive a £50 voucher to spend on Olympus kit*. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is tell us 'Where's Robin Whalley'. More information about the competition can be found here: Win A £50 Olympus Voucher From ePHOTOzine


*Voucher is redeemable against any purchase of an Olympus OM-D E-M1, E-M5, E-M10, PEN or Olympus Micro Four Thirds Accessories over £300. Winners must fill out a claim form once purchase is complete to receive their £50 cashback.

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