Shutter Therapy – A work in progress
My name is Anna Gałach, I am 38 years old and based in Bytom, Poland. I used to be a full-time teacher, now I am a part-time corporate rat who enjoys out-of-office times.
The first camera that I used was my mum’s analog point-and-shoot – to this day, I remember her “joy” after she got the roll of film developed after a school trip only to find 10 pictures of barely visible squirrels. I guess I already was fond of photographing nature, just not equipped for it 😄
I also remember using one of Sony’s compact cameras at some point, which I regrettably sold. I always had a love for photography and was frustrated that the pictures I took with my phone did not turn out as I wished them to be, however, there was never enough time and funds to justify buying a real camera. And then COVID started, and after a year of saving on transportation as I started working from home, I bought my first real camera, which was OM-D E-M10 Mark II with 14-42mm and 40-150mm. The reasons why I chose this one were mostly three.
1) I discovered on YouTube @RobTrek with his step-by-step tutorial, so I knew I would not be lost like a child in a fog;
2) The price was really good;
3) It was just beautiful.
Equipped with my new camera, I would escape to forests, mountains, and lakes whenever possible (there were no traveling restrictions here) and shoot, and shoot, and shoot, but most importantly for my sanity – stop, breathe, observe without watching the news, reading statistics. When I was not out shooting, I would watch and read whatever I could about photography, exposure triangle, compositions, hyperfocal distance and all that jazz and each time I learnt something new, I would go out and try what I have learnt. I would approach every bug, leaf, mushroom on my way, enjoying every minute of it. That was and still is my shutter therapy.
Since Olympus cameras are very advanced and packed with wonderful features, after two years of shooting with digital cameras I felt the urge to try a more organic, more tactile photography and I started my adventure with film photography. I would buy a camera that showed signs it might work, I would clean it, change its light seals, put a film on and see if it suits me. That’s when I realized I really enjoy the process of bringing back to life old, beautifully engineered machines. It was also then when I discovered how wonderfully vintage lenses paint pictures with Olympus bodies. I love shooting with the Helios 44M-4 on my E-M1 Mark II.
After I felt a bit more comfortable with the camera, I started what felt like a neverending journey of acquiring and selling gear. Although I loved my OM-D E-M10, I felt stressed during rain or snowfall, so I changed it for a used OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which works beautifully with the previously purchased M-Zuiko 12-45mm F4 PRO (I love that lens). I kept the Olympus 40-150mm plastic fantastic because, for my needs, it has more than enough quality, and my latest purchase was the Sigma 30mm F1.4 as I am about to shoot my sister’s wedding.
As life came back to something that felt a bit more normal and I was more out among people and in the cities, I wanted a small camera that I could fit into my bag and have with me at all times. First, I considered compact cameras. Then I thought maybe a small film-like style camera, meaning limited in options, with a manual lens. That’s how I came across the Olympus PEN Mini 2 E-PM2. It came with a kit lens 14-42mm, which I immediately sold for the same price I bought the whole kit, which gave me funds to buy a tiny, almost pancake TTArtisan 25mm f2. My PEN Mini does not have a viewfinder, but I got used to that, and it contributes to its tiny size. It does not have focus peaking but it has magnification which I simply assigned to the one and only function button that is on the body. It is a 16mpix camera, which is more than enough for me. The screen may not be the most reliable colour-wise, but it is a touch screen, so I can choose my focus point and then nail the focus. I shoot in Aperture priority exclusively, on auto ISO which I limited to 800, and it works beautifully like that. It has a bit louder shutter sound, which reminds me of my film camera, so not the most discreet one, but a real fun to use, and it fits in the palm of my hand. The lens produces really pleasant images, feels solid yet not heavy in the hand, and it is fast just enough.
I am really glad I could start taking pictures as I always wanted. I feel that I have learnt more within these 3 years than I have in the last 15. And as life is full of fleeing moments that are never to be repeated I feel really grateful that I can sometimes capture a glimpse of them. I also enjoy sharing those moments with friends who also love taking their cameras for walks, do some photographic challenges, and hus spend quality time together.
Some interesting YouTube channels you should check out:
“My name is Anna Gałach, I am 38 years old and based in Bytom, Poland – Industrial part of Upper Silesia, full of coal mines and former glory. I used to be a full-time teacher, now I am a part-time corporate rat who enjoys out-of-office times.”