Olympus Trip 35

Olympus Trip 35

If constraints help to fuel creativity, then consider the Olympus Trip 35 film camera my new constraint.

I picked up my copy on eBay from Light Burn Photo’s store last year – a great selection of re-skinned film cameras. The brown leather wrap is right up my alley.

Get this: You have four focusing zones. Close, near, far, and very far. That’s it. You have 1-6 meters to focus, or infinity.

And you can set the aperture, but the camera only has two shutter speeds: 1/200 and 1/40. The ISO dial goes from 25-400. Talk about constraints.

The results are pretty great, though, from what I’ve seen. I loaded a roll of Lomography 400 color film and picked away at it since the fall.

One niggle: the zone focusing is tricky to master. Quite a few of my shots had the wrong zone picked. I almost prefer full manual focus to this system.

It’s super small and light, and almost fully automatic, meaning I can take it anywhere and shoot. And boy, have I.

(Side note: film photography is saving my butt lately. It’s the one experiment that I can mess around with when I feel like it and not feel any pressure to post recent photos. It’s no-pressure photography, and I’m really digging it.)

Photographer Interview: Jamie MacDonald

Jamie MacDonald is an everything photographer – the guy just makes and makes. Jamie and I have shot together a few times, and I always respect his sense of experimentation and adventure.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jamie MacDonald and I am a professional photographer for Olympus Imaging North America, podcast host, and workshop leader. My position with Olympus takes me all over the place doing workshops and promoting not only their equipment, but also my work, and my podcast focuses on the world of mirrorless cameras.

How did you get started in photography?

I got started in photography when I decided I needed a camera for a family vacation back in 2007. I had never owned a camera, and thought one of those fancy interchangeable lens cameras was just what I needed. Once I started shooting I realized it wasn’t just the camera that I needed, it was a reconnection to my past life as an artist that I abandoned after high school.

What do you like about your photography?

I like that my photography is not subject limited. I like that when I walk out the door the world is my muse and I feel as comfortable shooting an impending storm, as I do a senior portrait session or an eagle in flight.

You take a variety of photos – everything from dramatic landscapes to intimate portraits. Where do you get inspiration for your style/ideas?

That is such a difficult question to answer, but I’ll try my best to put it into words. When it comes to inspiration I guess I should say that I am always in this weird state of wonderment about the world around me. The best way to explain it would be to ask you to remember a fond childhood memory, and when you have one picked out, think about how it makes you feel. I have that same sense of excitement and yearning to drink up life as I did when I was a kid. I even tell people that my soul has not grown up yet. So I guess I try to explore things visually in a way that shows I am still in a state of wonder about the world I live in.

What kinds of themes do you explore with your work?

Life. That is the theme I explore. Life is everything, and comes in every conceivable color and shape and form. I get the same level of excitement discovering a patch of weedy flowers growing through the cement, as I do standing atop a mountain shooting the sun filling the valley below me. I imagine that sounds crazy, but it is a part of who I am and how I see my world.

Any upcoming projects or shoots you’re working on?

I sincerely wish I had a glamorous answer for that question, but I do not. I have never once had a project come to mind, and yet I think I need to do some sort of series of photos as a way to grow myself. But I just haven’t had anything come to mind.

I DO however have a lot going on in the way of photography workshops and events this year. I will be presenting at the Out of Chicago Conference in June. There I will be doing a class titled “The Art of the Dramatic Landscape” where I discuss my approach to landscape photography, with an emphasis on my particular post processing methodology. I am also co-leading an astrophotography workshop in the mountains of Arizona in May, a weekend workshop in Philadelphia, and a few events here in Michigan. It is going to be a busy year!

Find more of Jamie’s work on his portfolio site, at @sl33stak on Tumblr, and on Flickr