Magic hour with the Pen-F

My name is Frank Luca and I am a photographer and graphic designer living and working in British Columbia, Canada. I am very fortunate to live in a part of the world with beautiful wilderness and scenery all around me. I spend most of my time out wandering through different neighbourhoods with my camera. My hobbies include hiking and travelling, though I usually spend my down-time with a good beer in hand while listening to records in my studio apartment. If you were to ask me what my favourite pastime involves, my answer would be out for a walk during golden hour with my camera — though these days, there aren’t many places I go without it. 

Olympus Pen-F . Leica DG 25mmF1.4 @25mm . f/1.4 . 1/2000″ . ISO 200

When it comes to my photography, I am a proponent of the “less is more” approach. For me, a photograph is all about creating atmosphere and mood. Through photography, I look to capture my version of the art of seeing. By sharing it with others, I hope that they also get a sense of what I’m trying to portray. It’s taken me a long time to find my creative “voice” but I just keep pushing myself to shoot more and to continue developing my skill. 

Olympus Pen-F . Leica DG 25mmF1.4 @25mm . f/1.4 . 1/1250″ . ISO 200

My first camera was a Pentax K1000 that was gifted to me when I decided to take a photography course in high school. I enjoyed photography and the process behind it, but it was not something I really considered I could do with my life so I left it behind. It wasn’t until a few years later on a family trip to Toronto and Niagara Falls that I realized that I felt like I was missing out on my experience because I didn’t have a camera to take with me. Not long after this, I got my hands on my first DSLR and just started making photos. 

Olympus Pen-F . Leica DG 25mmF1.4 @25mm . f/1.4 . 1/1600″ . ISO 200

Even after using my digital camera for many years, I never really felt like photography “clicked” for me — I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my photographic ability and, looking back, I went months at a time without picking up my camera. My interest reignited at some point along the way but I still never felt connected to the DSLR I was using and the images were never turning out the way I wanted them to. It’s also important to mention, that I remember weekends where I’d end up leaving the camera at home because it was too bulky and I felt that I couldn’t be bothered to take it with me. 

It was around this time that I decided that I was ready to upgrade my gear, and also when I discovered that Olympus had unveiled the OM-D EM-5. I was torn between getting this “small” mirrorless camera and investing in a more professional DSLR. After  a few weeks of contemplation and actually going to test out the EM-5 though, I was sold — when I paired it with the Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4 lens, which is, honestly, the lens that I still use the most to this day — I was blown away with the photos I was able to make. As time passed, I noticed my progression in my photography after switching to Olympus. Not long after, I knew that I was capable of creating the images that I had always set out to do and decided to pursue photography in a more serious manner.

Olympus Pen-F . Leica DG 25mmF1.4 @25mm . f/1.4 . 1/2500″ . ISO 200

When Olympus announced the Pen-F, my jaw literally dropped — to me this was one of the most beautiful cameras I had ever seen. I hesitated for a long period of time about purchasing one for myself, as I have always been the kind of person that likes to make do with what I have, but earlier this year I made the decision to purchase one. I read many reviews on the Pen-F before making my decision, but the common thread I kept coming across was, simply put, that the Pen-F is a camera that makes you want to pick it up and shoot. Each one of those people were right, I love everything about the Pen-F. It has exceeded most of my expectations and in my mind, it is a nearly perfect camera. When I’m out shooting it feels like this camera was made specifically for me — when paired with the aforementioned 25mm f/1.4, I feel like I’m creating magic. 

Currently, I shoot a lot of lifestyle and product photography professionally, but I find that I am really able to lend my personal style to the projects I work on. My personal work has always been mostly landscape as that’s what I’ve been exposed to growing up in a smaller town with a lot of beautiful scenery around. Up until now, I’m the most satisfied with the photos I make that are of things that I feel are often overlooked — everyday objects that we all would usually just walk by on our way to work, or to the grocery store, etc…

These are what I consider to be the mundane parts of our lives — a rusted fridge abandoned in someone’s backyard, the shadows that blooming flowers make during golden hour, always something in between the cracks. To me, photography is really all about capturing light and I like to think that I’ve adopted a certain way of seeing, so I look to create images that allow the viewer to see my version of the world. 

Olympus Pen-F . Leica DG 25mmF1.4 @25mm . f/1.4 . 1/200″ . ISO 1000

My current camera setup includes the Black Pen-F and Black OM-D EM-5 Mk I, though I’m eagerly awaiting what Olympus has in store over the next few months as I keep hearing mutterings of an OM-D EM-5 Mk III. If true, I’ll be looking to upgrade my current EM-5 so long as it has capabilities that at least match the Pen-F.

For lenses, I have the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4, 15mm f/1.7, and 12-60mm f/2.8-4. One of the main reasons I’ve stuck with Olympus through all of these years is the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization, for those that don’t know). I feel as though I have a hard time holding still but I still manage to get amazing quality low-light images without the use of a tripod. 

I find that this equipment has really helped shape who I am as a photographer and has enhanced my ability to simply make great photos. One of my favourite things about shooting with Olympus cameras, aside from the excellent image quality, is that I still get asked on a fairly regular basis if I’m using a film camera. I love how discreet they are and I’ve had clients and collaborators tell me that they feel more relaxed as opposed to if I was pointing a pro-DSLR at them, this makes it feel more personal to me. 

Olympus Pen-F . Leica DG 25mmF1.4 @25mm . f/1.4 . 1/8000″ . ISO 200

Though I studied graphic design and would probably consider myself a designer by trade, I feel as though the principles I’ve been taught lend a helpful hand to my photography. If I had to say what the most important factor in all of my work would be, it’s composition. Whether it’s through design or photography, every decision is a deliberate one with everything I make, and I like to think that this comes across in my finished pieces. 

Olympus Pen-F . Leica DG 25mmF1.4 @25mm . f/1.4 . 1/20″ . ISO 2000

Over the next several months, I’m looking to broaden my portfolio and focus more on making portraits as this, to me, presents itself as an exciting and interesting challenge that I can continue to learn from. I have really enjoyed shooting portrait work in the past as part of a few more personal projects, so I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes me.

This article was originally published in 2019 on the 27th edition of our monthly magazine, which you can check here: Olympus Passion #27

Olympus Pen-F . Leica DG 25mmF1.4 @25mm . f/1.4 . 1/6400″ . ISO 200

"My name is Frank, I am a Photographer & Graphic Designer living and working in Kamloops, British Columbia.  I graduated from the Digital Art & Design program at Thompson Rivers University & I have been working with a variety of local companies since 2016. In the off chance I'm not out wandering with my camera, you'll find me listening to records, working in my studio, sourcing new podcasts, or enjoying a quality beverage. For my work, I draw inspiration from ordinary and unassuming places, emotional connection & ambient light. My photographs evoke a sense of nostalgia and are formed on the basis of using only natural light, while my design practices are generally a combination of postmodern influence & minimalism. If you're interested in purchasing some new artwork for yourself or supporting my work in any way, you can find a variety of items in my Society6 shop."

3 Comments

  1. Hi Frank,
    I have the same two Olympus cameras and I also love them very much. Thanks for sharing your great story and BTW, very nice pictures here! I love your picture style, also because I try to work in that same style with the same subject matter.

    1. Thank you for the kind words Benny, I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Since this article was originally released, I now also own an E-M1 Mark II, but can happily say it has not changed my photography style. I’ll make sure to check out your work as well.

  2. Enjoyed your story and photos very much, I am also documenting my beach town as the old beach houses are disappearing, I have had the OMD EM 2 for a couple of years and this year added the Pen F and I love this camera, all the best.
    Cheers,
    John

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