Hey there! My name is Paddy Alviar. I grew up in the Philippines and I’m currently working in San Francisco as a Business Analyst.

I’ve wanted to see the natural wonders we have here in North America and hiking’s a huge part of the culture I had in college. I eventually realized that photography and travel go hand in hand and, during a trip in early 2018, I decided to pick up photography as a means of capturing these amazing landscapes.

I didn’t expect to get too into it, but over the past two years, it’s made me more proactive in both exploring new places and immersing myself in new cultures. I’ve spent most of my weekends outdoors ever since, enjoying the feeling that there’s always something to see.

Currently, the largest wildfire in California is growing bigger. Here in San Francisco, I’ve seen the drastic impact of climate change firsthand: hazy orange skies in the middle of the afternoon, ash-covered cars, and enough smoke to fill up your mask filter from a 10-minute walk to the grocery – this was during September when we had the worst air quality in the world. I know not everybody believes in climate change but I do just want to point out that these challenges, despite not everyone being immediately affected today, will at some point in the future be inescapable.

For my photo project, I’d like to present two views: a few photos of gorgeous places that I hope you’ll want to see for yourself and photos of the devastation of the wildfires. Through sharing what we have and showing the contrast of what we can potentially lose, I hope to instill a sense of appreciation for what we have and, in time, create a proactive role for those reading in protecting these stunningly beautiful places we’ve been blessed with.

For my project, I choose the OM-D E-M1 Mark III, M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4.0 IS PRO, and M.Zuiko 7-14mm F2.8 PRO.

The E-M1 Mark III is an ideal camera for someone who is constantly on the go and I especially love how it supports a travel/landscape photographer's needs. The camera and lenses are incredibly easy to pack due to its size and weight and the addition of having 7 stops of Image stabilization forfeits the need for a tripod on medium exposure shots. Leaving my tripod at home is an absolute win – the IS compensates for my shaky hands and still provides sharp photos at longer distances. The camera also has both weather sealing which helps me focus on capturing the scenery instead of how I can protect my camera from the elements and a rotating screen to help me get low angle shots.

Lastly, the High Res mode is a game-changer. I can shoot while having the peace of mind knowing that I can confidently get my photos printed at high resolution.

My mentor for my project is Olympus Explorer Chris Poplawski (@chrisroams). Chris is an insanely talented travel and landscape photographer known for his ability to capture dramatic lighting with beautiful scenery. He’s able to tell a story and maximize the full beauty of the landscape he’s in because of his approach in searching for new perspectives.

His feedback will really hone my creative process and his experience will help drive the focus on my photo project in the best way possible. Chris’s extensive expertise with photography and brand work will help break down the project into actionable targets while also improving my craft.

Landscape photography is a coin toss on whether you’ll have the right conditions to get the photo you envision. Planning ahead is a must and Chris’s experience with travel will help me properly map out my adventure so I can be prepared when the best light is present. Learning from an experienced photographer like him will help me holistically hone my skills in capturing the details of the landscape, composing shots, and improving my overall workflow, which all works back into telling a better story.

Eastern Sierras
Captured by Chris Poplawski

Can’t wait to share the photos in the coming months!