Mitsuaki Iwago's first visit to the Galapagos Islands at the age of 19 sparked his interest in natural wonders and eventually paved his path to becoming a world-travelled animal photographer. His beautiful photographs inspire the imagination and have earned him international recognition.
Read Iwago's commentary > Read Less >
I wanted to return to the source of wildlife photography in Africa, the original home of all things living on earth. That's what made me choose the Ngorongoro World Heritage Site as the location of this photo shoot. The large electronic viewfinder of the E-M1 has a high field rate that makes it very easy to look through. In addition, it compensates for poor light even when the sky is covered with clouds, reproducing the hair and skin of wild animals in great detail. Also, the high-speed shutter and 10 fps sequential shooting help allow you to get clear shots of animals in motion. When I first encountered this camera, I knew I would be able to capture the faces of animals while they are eating as well as the facial expressions of two animals confronting each other. The dust-proof mechanism is also a big help in keeping out the powder-like dust of Africa.
A male lion appeared in my field of view. I could see the texture of every hair on his body. His face, with its scarred nose, reflects the life he has led, telling us he is truly living in this land. When a beam of light suddenly lit up his face dramatically, my spine tingled and my finger trembled with excitement as I released the shutter.
In the morning on the savannah under a cloudy sky, I aimed the camera at a group of gnus walking in line towards a watering hole. Zooming in on them, I could see the individual steps made by each animal in the group. It is amazing how sharp the picture of this camera is. It even tells you where and what the animals are looking at. I realised that it can take pictures by following the animal's line of sight. In photography, the important thing is for the photographer to form an image of his thoughts or feelings about the subject. The new E-M1 from Olympus works exactly with my imagination, fully responding to all my expectations.
"In Africa, I look straight into the eyes of the wild animals surviving on this pristine, dusty land."
Shin Yamagishi photographs famous actors, teen idols and athletes. His works regularly appear on the covers of leading magazines. He is also a frequent guest on TV shows and is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society.
Read Yamagishi's commentary > Read Less >
I chose two of my favourite locations in Japan for this photo shoot. One was Kujukuri-hama Beach in Chiba, the other was Chikuma in Nagano. The reason is that, in these places, I can "read" the light and wind to create a photographic work that precisely reproduces the image in my mind. I have visited these places for location photography as many as 15 times in the last six months. For this project, my plan was to visit them in the season with the most stable weather, but instead we were tormented by rain and wind. I shot a female model using the Art Filters under unfavourable conditions at both Kujukuri-hama beach, where we were drenched with rain, and at Chikuma, where we endured strong winds and bright light.
I took up the challenge, using all of the Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds lenses I have. I have been using E-Series as one of my main cameras since the E-20 in 2001, but I never expected the series would evolve to the degree that it has in the latest E-M1. My favourite lens is the M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 45mm f1.8. I decided to take more photographs using this 45mm lens and other new lenses.
People around me say that my photos are "the kind of pictures I've never seen before". One of the reasons for this may be thanks to the use of the various Art Filters. Since I began using cameras incorporating the Art Filters, I have been fully exploiting the Pin Hole Art Filter and the frame effects of Art Effects. I believe that the resulting images can only be created by me. Being able to immediately select the right filter for the subject and the situation is what gives my work its unique individuality.
"Find the perfect moment among infinite possibilities, just as if you were casting an image in your mind into shape."
Born in snowy Toyama, Japan, Yakushi has been focusing his lens on world-class sporting events ever since he first shot the Skiing World Cup in 1969. He is an FIS Journalist Award winner, honoured for his skiing coverage, and an AIPS Veteran Olympic Journalist, having photographed fourteen Olympic Games.
Read Yakushi's commentary > Read Less >
For this photo shoot, I selected the Treble Cone ski field in New Zealand. Boasting the highest, longest slopes on New Zealand's South Island, Treble Cone is a popular training site for some of the world's top professional skiers. The Southern Hemisphere is in the dead of winter from the end of July to early August so we expected deep fresh snow. However, perhaps because the unusual weather also hit New Zealand, people said there had been no snowfall since early July.
Fortunately, we discovered that there was still enough snow left on the slope from an altitude of about 1500 metres to the peak of the mountain (2088 m). On the down side, the slope with the best conditions for shooting did not have a lift so we had to hike up about 150 metres every day. With the skier carrying his skis on his shoulder and the photographer carrying ski and photo equipment on his back, we also took snacks and drinks to the peak. Fortunately, the sun betrayed the weather forecasters and kept shining.
With the sun's position changing moment by moment, I had to decide how to compose each shot by judging how to accommodate the light and shades in the frame in an instant. The edges of the skis shaved the surface of the snow, leaving powdered snow like smoke in the viewfinder screen. It's at the moment when the photographer and the subject become completely synchronised that the best shot exactly reproducing the photographer's vision can be obtained. The skier in these pictures is Mr Daisuke Yoshioka, who participated in the giant slalom at the Torino Olympics and won first prize at the All Japan Ski Technique Championships 2013. Displaying his superior skill and technique, he skied down steep slopes, skimming over icy crusts and ploughing through virgin snow exactly as intended.
"I breathe with the skiers, and focus all my concentration on that single, precise moment."
Kazuo Unno is a nature photographer specialising in insects. Based in Komoro, Nagano, Japan since 1990, the majority of his work captures the nature in his local area. In 1994, he won the Japan Professional Photographers Society annual prize. He is the chairman of the Society of Scientific Photography.
Read Unno's commentary > Read Less >
With a new camera, I want new stimulus. So I decided to go to Thailand, a place I haven't visited for two decades, for this photo shoot. August in Thailand is the rainy season and the weather is unpredictable – ideal conditions for testing the reliability of the E-M1's dust-/splash-proof body. Though people told me in advance that I would not be able to see many butterflies in the rainy season, I found many Papillo Paris, one of my favourite butterflies. I shot them enthusiastically, also trying the sequential shooting that is said to capture 10.0 frames per second. I was astonished by the camera's ability to shoot about 30 frames of RAW + JPEG data successively.
One of the great features of the E-M1 is that it enables stress-free use of Four Thirds lenses. I was glad that I was able to use my favourite Four Thirds lenses, the dust-/splash-proof 8mm fisheye and 50-200mm lenses, on a Micro Four Thirds camera. The 50-200mm lens, in particular, had even higher response than when mounted on the E-5, responding crisply as I operated it while shooting the butterfly flying across flowers.
The 60mm Macro Lens is an indispensable item for photographers of small subjects such as insects. The image quality with the open aperture is excellent but the iris needs to be stopped down to increase the focal depth in close-up. The good thing with the E-M1 is that it applies diffraction correction according to the lens in use so image quality degradation is reduced even when the iris is stopped down. Macro shooting often uses the flash, but lighting is sometimes difficult with the camera's built-in flash. In such a case, it is convenient that a flash such as the FL-600R can be fired with wireless control in the RC mode.
"As the Thai weather changes once again, I get a close shot of a Papilio Paris flying around in search of ripe honeydew."
Junji Takasago is a nature photographer dedicated to capturing the interconnectedness of all living things. From underwater creatures to vast landscapes, the entire globe serves as his canvas. His published works include “Night Rainbow”, “Penguin Island” and “Sorairo no Yume".
Read Takasago's commentary > Read Less >
In Hawaii, you can find examples of almost every type of weather and environment on Earth, from warm coral seas to icy snow-capped mountains. Since the E-M1 is said to stand up to some pretty harsh conditions, I thought Hawaii would be a good place to see just how tough it really is. Rainbows are a common sight here, meaning that there are frequent showers. I was able to confirm that the E-M1 was just as tough as promised when it suddenly started to rain as I was photographing rainbows, when shooting dolphins and sea turtles using the underwater case, and when shooting on sandy beaches.
The feature I used the most during this trip was the 10.0 fps sequential shooting function. While photographing a dolphin coming toward me with sequential shooting set to the highest speed, I was surprised that the images almost looked like a movie recording. When I took a picture from a boat of a dolphin leaping in the air, I was able to capture ten pictures at once whereas previous cameras could only capture four or five. This makes it possible to obtain sequential pictures of very fine movements and the high speed dramatically expands the potential of sequential shooting. Meanwhile, the new time-lapse movie mode makes this camera even more fun. Surprisingly, this camera is capable of creating long professional-class time-lapse movies.
I am really pleased that a high-class camera of this size and weight has been released – all thanks to the advent of the mirrorless design which has drastically decreased the camera size, as well as tremendous progress in image quality. The compact camera body also made it possible to reduce the size of the underwater case. Compactness is especially convenient under water, making shooting much easier. Even under heaving waves or in a strong oceanic current, the camera is always very easy to handle.
"Hawaii is an island of excitement and wonder. It is an oasis perfect for capturing amazing moments."
Graduating from Nippon Photography Institute in 1995, Shimizu worked as an assistant until becoming a freelance photographer in 1998. His subjects range from landscapes to snapshots to documentary. He won the 1st Younosuke Natori Photography Award in 2005 and is a member of Japan’s Photographers Society.
Read Shimizu's commentary > Read Less >
I like to walk every corner of a city with map in hand. Usually, I'll walk 6 to 10 miles per day, and sometimes as many as 15 miles. As I walk the streets, I use the opportunity to take photographs of whatever catches my eye, as well indulging in other activities like chatting with people from many countries and tasting different cuisine. At the fireworks display, where three countries performed over three days, I used the Live Bulb mode while checking the exposed image on the monitor screen. Since fireworks photography is often plagued by overexposure, it is necessary to set the sensitivity quite low. I stopped the aperture down to f16 or f22, kept the shutter open in the bulb mode, covered the lens front with a black cloth and exposed the image only when colourful fireworks were set off.
While shooting using the fisheye lens from the observation deck, I tried the new HDR function and succeeded in obtaining a mysterious twilight scene with a unique atmosphere. When the landscape changes in the morning or evening, or when the flow of clouds, cars or people is interesting, it's a good time to use interval shooting or time-lapse movie recording. I also saw location shooting of a Hollywood movie while I was walking. When I saw a highly individual American vehicle, I used the Colour Creator function to shoot it with a finish reminiscent of those days or the Photo Story with increased effects to clip a scene like a sort of collection.
I find that the E-M1 is very comfortable to hold because of its well-fitting grip. I also appreciate the increased number of dials that make it even easier to use than the E-M5, as well as the advanced image quality. I almost let out a gasp of astonishment when I checked the images on my PC. The sharpness of the focused area, smoothness of the defocused area and surprisingly high resolution at every corner really impressed me.
"When I'm in a city that everybody loves, like Vancouver, I just walk the streets, imagining what people's lives are like, and press the shutter button as I please."
Photojournalist at studio AFTERMODE,Yasuda has been reporting on poverty and refugee causes in Cambodia, South-East Asia, Africa and the Middle East. After the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami, she reported the aftermath and recovery in and around Rikuzentakata. She received the 8th Yonosuke Natori Photographic Award.
Read Yasuda's commentary > Read Less >
Carrying a camera in a city that has suffered so much tragedy has been a source of continual conflict for me. Am I going to seriously offend someone? Isn't there some better way to serve these people than by taking their pictures? Is this the right way to communicate? Is it even acceptable for me, an outsider, to be here? There were times when I was simply unable to release the shutter, and I still sometimes feel a sense of ambivalence or guilt.
However, the more time I spend here, the greater the number of people become precious to me. Together, we saw many different scenes, from destruction to reconstruction. As fishermen returned to the sea, their activity helped slowly bring the city back to life, while the resurrection of festivals is bringing the people back together again. More than anything, it is the sight of children growing day-by-day that is boosting the morale of the grown-ups. I shot my camera constantly so as not to miss these moments. The camera, which was a heavy burden on the shoulder in the period immediately after the quake, has become an important partner that has connected me with the people of this city almost before I realised it.
This city is full of moments that can only be seen as they happen. The places hit by the tsunami are being levelled and surge barriers are being built along the shore. The road on which the festival parade marched may be covered by an embankment next year. We may be unable to see the urban area if we look back from the beach. The removal from the provisional housing has already begun so decomposition of the communities will begin again. For these reasons, I wish to keep as many precious moments as possible in my photos. Now I am determined to record what people want to bequeath to their children from the depth of their hearts in as many pictures as possible.
"Rikuzentakata - a city on the road to recovery. I wanted to share what is seen by the eyes of the people I have grown close to."