Finding out how excellent your camera is may be accomplished by testing the limits of its capabilities to the fullest extent that they will go. The expansion of its photographic capabilities is helped by the presence of flying muck, heavy rain, and dense fog in addition to speed, vibration, and low light.
My sister and her husband have both been successful in husky racing, winning a number of trophies between them, including titles as champions of the World and European Sleddog Associations. They are currently the sole proprietors of the only facility of its kind in the United Kingdom. I brought my camera up to Bowland Trails, which is located on top of a mountain in Perthshire in Scotland, so that I could take pictures of her together with her 50 dogs, 100 heads of cattle, and 200 sheep.
They are now unable to compete since the cost of transporting the dogs overseas has quadrupled as a result of Brexit, making it unfeasible for them to do so. In the same vein, they are not going to be holding any international racing events anymore.
In spite of this, they continue to train other racers as well as their dogs, and they also provide rides for tourists through mountain farming, open moor, and woods where the highland cattle and wild animals share their territory. The canine teams are used to pull a modified quad bike.
It was less than ideal weather for photography, but it was just right for the dogs, who can easily become overheated when the sun is out. As a result of the overcast sky and the paths that ran through the forest, the light that I had to work with was quite dim and uniform.
Husky dogs are capable of reaching speeds of up to twenty miles per hour. To avoid blurring caused by motion, which was very necessary, I needed a fast shutter speed. I also wanted to incorporate all of the members of the squad, as well as some of the landscape that was around us, to provide some context.
The larger depth of field that can be achieved with bigger apertures is an advantage of the Micro Four Thirds format that is sometimes underestimated. However, even with the aperture wide open, there was still not enough light to photograph at the ISO 200 that was advised for my camera. As a result, I instructed the camera to use an automatic setting that would go up to a maximum of 12800 and set the shutter speed to 1/1600 of a second. I was certain that these settings would allow me to produce photographs that could be used.
After wearing the protective waterproofs and crash helmet, we were all set to begin our 6-mile journey around the course. After hearing a word from Mary, the dogs hushed themselves and remained perfectly still as they awaited the beginning of the walk. Previously, the dogs had been yipping with enthusiasm as they anticipated the walk. While they were moving, she had total control over them; they would stop, speed up, and move left or right according to her instructions. It’s quite an experience.
The tracks are rough because of the puddles that the dogs ran over, which cause mud and water to spray in all directions. The camera’s weather and dust sealing is rated at IP53, which is more than adequate for the circumstances that it was exposed to, therefore it was unaffected by flying dirt and splashes of water.
However, there was a possibility that some flying muck may touch the lens of the camera. In the majority of such scenarios, I would recommend installing a protective UV filter that can be screwed on. But it is not possible due to the bulbous front element of this lens. I had no choice but to resort to concealing the camera as we got closer to the puddle.
When I was shooting by myself, I was relieved that I had chosen the more compact Micro Four Thirds camera. Anything that was more cumbersome or heavier would have been difficult to manage as the train bumped down the rails.
Naturally, the lens wasn’t the best choice for taking pictures of the animals as we raced by it. Regardless, I managed to get a picture of the wild deer that was standing there watching us ride past. They did not appear to be bothered by the noise caused by the dogs running, but when we approached them on foot afterward, they maintained a considerably wider distance than before.
This is not the best wildlife lens, but this was the view from the side of the buggy. The wild deer were not particularly frightened by the dogs’ rapid pace.
I also shot some pictures of Mary, John, and their long-term volunteer Lucy, who is a certified veterinarian, racing the teams around the trails; other volunteers come to stay at the farm for varying amounts of time from all over the world. During this portion of the session, I made use of a 40-150 mm f/4 lens.
This smaller and lighter lens offered me an adequate depth of field, allowing me to concentrate on more than just the lead dog even though it had a slower maximum aperture than the f/2.8 version. This time around, I made advantage of the camera’s continuous focusing function as well as the AI topic identification for animals.
Every time it latched onto the animals, it did so precisely, even when the creatures were too far away for a photograph to turn out. Whenever something intriguing flew into the screen, I immediately switched it to the bird-detecting mode.
In Scotland, there are a few proverbs that are commonly known: “If you don’t like the weather, wait half an hour and it will change,” and “If you can see the mountains, it’s going to rain; if you can’t see them, it is pouring.” During the course of my brief stay, I witnessed a variety of weather conditions, including cloud cover, precipitation, fog, wind, and finally, complete calm.
Hail and snow would have rounded off the experience perfect for me. This ever-changing, gloomy weather meant that a tour across the moorland in the Kawasaki Mule utility vehicle provided lots of opportunities for landscape photography as well.
The next time I go, I want to put more of my attention on photographing the local fauna. In preparation for that, I will bring a lens with a larger focal length as well as gear that is appropriate for slithering around in the muck and the heather in order to track down my quarry.
Within the space of five minutes, the weather went from being clear to having dense fog, which is one of my preferred weather situations for taking photographs. Recent articles that fellow Fstoppers Senior Writer Andy Day has written served as a source of motivation for this graphic.
In spite of the fact that this is not a review of a kit, I felt confident in my decision to use the camera and lens that I used because of how well they worked in these really difficult conditions.
The OM-1’s mobility, outstanding image stabilization, good high ISO and low-light performance, battery life that allowed for the silent shooting of over 2500 frames, and excellent low-light and high ISO performance all contributed to the success of this session.
Mary is thinking of securing a camera that rotates in all directions to the rig. She is also considering the use of a drone equipped with “follow-me” software, and I am in the process of investigating a variety of possibilities to see which one will be the most suitable for a muddy, bumpy ride through a canopy of low-hanging trees.
In the event that you have any suggestions or ideas, I would be grateful to hear them in the following comments. In addition to that, have you tested the limits of your camera? It would be really interesting to learn about its achievements, both successful and unsuccessful.