A lot of people go into camera shops with the intention of buying a new camera. As a general rule, they always seem to care about the following aspects: ergonomics, feel, sensors, megapixels, dynamics, sound, menu and range of lenses. While these features are certainly important for photographers, very few people think about the camera’s technical functions; in other words, what it has under its bonnet. When I switched to the Olympus system in 2014, I read about functions that I didn’t really care about in the Olympus catalogue. At the time, I didn’t think you needed Live Bulb, Live Time or Live Composite, and it seemed to me that they were just gimmicks. However, ask me today whether I need and use these functions, and I’ll give you a resounding yes!
Whenever I discuss long exposure with photographers who don’t use Olympus, I always say, “I don’t have to work out how long to expose for – I just look at the display and when the exposure is right, I have my picture.” They follow up with “How do you do that?”, to which I answer, “Thanks to the magical Live Bulb, Live Time and Live Composite features that you only get with Olympus!” In fact, the picture below was created in Frankfurt am Main on such a day. I waited for the lighting conditions to be right and, with the help of the Live Composite function, the camera conjured up the following image. One shot – one photo.
Olympus is the only manufacturer to offer this type of time exposure function. A few months ago, I was hiking around the Allerheiligen waterfalls area in the Black Forest, taking photographs. I set my equipment up and took a shot of the waterfall with the Live Time function.
As I was packing away and getting ready to leave, a man came along who also happened to be an Olympus photographer. I watched the way he approached the subject. At first, he set everything up and appeared to want to take the shot using a long exposure because he had screwed a neutral density filter to the lens. From that point onwards, it got even more interesting! I wanted to see whether he would use the Live Time function, and guess what... he started to calculate, “With aperture X and the neutral density filter, I’ll have to expose it for X secs”. At that point, I was thinking, “Oh my God: he’s got Live Time and yet he’s working it out.” So, I approached him and asked if he knew how Live Time worked. He answered me with a yes, but it sounded more like a no – because he wasn’t up to speed with the function’s technical capabilities. I took it upon myself to explain the feature to him there and then. What I’m trying to say is that there are photographers with Olympus systems who neither know nor use the features of their cameras.
At first glance, maybe they do initially seem gimmicky. But in reality, functions like these are worth their weight in gold because they really simplify the art of photography for the photographer. The long exposure is in fact an experimental photograph; in general, the first couple of pictures won’t be exposed correctly. Of course, we also need to remember that the tripod, the remote release and the app (Ol.Share) are real must-haves. Let me give you a broad overview of the features.
Live Bulb, Live Time and Live Composite work a little bit differently. For starters, the camera is positioned on a solid surface, such as a tripod – switch off image stabilisation, frame your picture and focus. If you’re working with neutral density filter, turn off the auto focus. So far, the conventional approach also applies to long exposure and to Live Bulb, Live Time and Live composite. Firstly, you should measure the exposure in mode A, S or M. Exposure time needs to be between 1/2 and 60 seconds and we keep this value in mind. We now switch to the mode you want – press the menu buttons and enter the time that we noted and then confirm with OK. Now switch the camera to Live View mode. It is at this point that we release the shutter and see how the picture forms – the whole thing is beautifully simple! We don’t have to work out the exposure time and the Live Composite function adds the respective light difference, rather than the total light available, as is usually the case. That is the difference compared with Live Bulb and Live Time. So, grab your cameras, get outdoors and try it out – you are going to love these features! The possibilities are endless! It’s easy to create light paintings, architectural pictures, star trails, and much more besides – imagination knows no limits and the cool thing about it is the images are in RAW or JPG format!
I’d like to finish with this quotation: “Nature never deceives us. It is we who deceive ourselves. ” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Author & Photographer: Hayrettin Bilgin