Happy light

Come with us!
It all started when a friend asked me to join a group of trail runners that were having a hut-to-hut vacation week in the Dolomites. Being an experienced trail runner AND a passionate photographer I was immediately enthusiastic about the idea.

I was expected to join the group and run with them for five or six days, taking pictures of the clients and the landscapes during the whole adventure. The numbers were quite considerable, but I was trained: we had to hike/run for 20 to 35 km (12 to 21 miles) a day, with a positive gain of 1.000/1.500 mt (3,200 to 5,000 feet) – and correspondent loss, of course!

At that point, I had a quick look at my photo bag, and I immediately realized that I was not equipped for that kind of challenge: my full-frame camera and those lenses wouldn’t have survived to that treatment… and even if they could have survived, I couldn’t: too much weight to carry and too much space required. I had to find something better!

The answer is light
This was the reason why I bought my first Micro 4/3 camera. Since that first time, I worked with those trail-runner groups many times and for many years. Every year I was upgrading my Olympus equipment, which was really growing very fast in terms of quality and functions. Since when I started working with the most recent bodies (the E-M1 MkII, in my opinion, was the real game-changer) I didn’t feel any more the need of a full-frame camera, so I started doing everything with Olympus (currently PEN-F and E-M1 MkIII).

But I’m not really a mountain girl
In fact, I live in a small city (Vicenza, near Venice), and the Dolomites, unfortunately, aren’t my usual scenario. I have a very passionate life, and I travel every time I can. Photography is an important part of all this: I love taking pictures of places and locations in every day of my normal life, and very high-quality equipment in a compact package is the real point here. For this reason, I always have at least my beloved PEN-F and a couple of small lenses in my bag (I mean: the everyday handbag, not a photo bag). Because nice things happen even when you enter a bar for a coffee, and I want to be always ready.

In particular, I can say I love taking pictures of what I feel rather than what I see. And here comes another key point of my Olympus gear, because I work a lot in HDR: HDR pictures come from series of many shots (3, 5 or even 7) of the same subject and with different exposure time – this is to extend the base dynamic range of the sensor, which is far less powerful than the human eye’s one. From this point of view, having a very fast shooting sequence helps a lot when there are people in the scene.

But it’s not only about exposure: HDR processing brings to the photographer the ability to get fine details in every single area of the picture, and for this reason, a very wide focus area is very important. Micro 4/3 offers a greater depth of field, given the same angle of view and aperture than the full-frame systems, and this allows you to keep a very wide aperture (so you don’t need to increase the ISO setting) and still have everything in focus.

In general, if I have to choose a moment in the day when I love taking pictures, that’s the blue hour for sure. Because that moment has something magic, and I love trying to bring that magic with me into the picture, and then be able to say “believe me, this is how I felt”.

But, of course, there’s not only the blue hour: every single time I visit any interesting place or city (but every Italian city is interesting, in some way), I bring at least my PEN-F with me: there is always something nice to bring back!

And finally, last but not least, Urbex
When I can, I plan urbex (urban exploration) visits: this is something which I really love, being the situation in which everything comes together: the small and light package makes it easy to walk around even in tricky conditions (it happens that you need to climb a wall or get through small abandoned passages), and the fast shutter sequence and the depth of field with wide apertures help a lot getting the shot even in low light situations, as usually happens in these locations.

So this is me
Finally, since travelling is the thing that I love most (apart from sports practice, but I’m getting old for that) there is always my camera with me: because there is always something nice to bring back home. And it’s an Olympus. Which, apart from all the reasons here explained, is something that I feel like a tradition: my very first camera, back in 1974, was an Olympus OM2n. Great equipment, and sweet memories at the same time!

The equipment setups I use:

Trail running/trekking sessions
Camera:
• Olympus E-M1 MkIII
Lenses:
• Zuiko 12-40 F/2.8 pro (always mounted while running/walking)
• Zuiko 7-14 F/2.8 pro (in the backpack, because landscapes are wonderful and sometimes you need the best for that)
Bag:
• Mountainsmith Lumbar Camera Bag. They don’t do it anymore, and it’s a real pity: it was the best solution, I could run all day long without feeling it, and the camera was always ready in front of me. Plus, very useful after lunch, when you get out of the hut and it’s cold windy outside (keeps your stomach warm :-D)

City walk sessions
Camera:
• Olympus PEN-F
Lenses:
• Laowa 9mm F/2.8 (Olympus, will I ever get a wonderful super-wide and small fixed lens?)
• Zuiko 25mm F/1.8
Bag:
• Peak design small bag: any bag should be ok for this use, but it has to be nice and chic because you never know where you’ll end for lunch or dinner

Long trips/vacations by car
Camera:
• Olympus E-M1 MkIII
• Olympus PEN-F
Lenses:
• Zuiko 7-14 F/2.8 pro (always mounted on the E-M1: if I had to choose only one body and only one lens, it would be this one: I could only take a few pics, but they would be amazing! Most of my good shots are made with this solution. I really love super-wide lenses)
• Laowa 9mm F/2.8 (usually mounted on the PEN-F. Did I say I love super-wides ?)
• Zuiko 12-40 F/2.8 Pro
• Panaleica 15 F/1.7
• Zuiko 25 and 45 F/1.8
• Zuiko 60 F/2.8 macro
• Zuiko 75 F/1.8
• Zuiko 40-150 F/2.8 Pro
• Lensbaby composer
Bags:
• Lowepro shoulder bag (it can easily hold the camera I decide to use and a couple, or more, of lenses)
• Bigger backpack (I don’t really remember what kind, I only use it to bring my gear to the car and I keep it there until the end of the trip. Easy access to everything though: that’s the only thing I need!

All my bodies and straps are equipped with the Peak Design system links, so I can easily change straps (I need to match the outfit of the day, obviously!)

"My name is Mia Battaglia, born 1962 (I’ll leave the maths to you...) Should you know more about me, you’d probably think at the Latin say “Nomen Omen”: in English, my name would be “My Battle”, and it has been exactly that: a wonderful, taff, passionate and neverending battle: this is what, even in 2020, a transgender person life usually is. I’ve also always been practicing a lot of sports, the most relevant (25 years) being marathons and ultra trail-running races. And I recently added mountain e-biking to my usual activities (just to spare a bit my knees). That’s why, just to survive, I also practice Iyengar Yoga (since more than 20 years now). My work life is all about a very little software development company which I own, together with a partner. Photography has always been present in my life: passionate since the beginning (I received my first camera when I was eight) in the years I started developing my personal taste, and enjoyed the chance to use photography to reproduce the reality as I feel it, rather than how I see it. In particular, I love when I can bring life to shades, and not only to light. Maybe this is something connected to the fact that, for about half of my life, I wasn’t able to show what I really was: I was just leaving there, in the shade... Sometimes people say that my pictures are more paintings than photographs, and this is something I personally take as a compliment, probably because half of my family was made of artists, of any kind: painters, sculptors, musicians... and sometimes all this together. Together with Ugo Baldasarre, I'm administrator of the Micro 4/3 Italia Facebook Group."

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