Let's talk first about my experience with the E-M1 Mark III and M.Zuiko PRO lenses.
I could not be more impressed with the features that I have explored. I had already been using the E-M5 Mark II for several years and loved it for its light, compact body, and its rugged weather-proofing. The E-M1 Mark III is a bit larger, a bit heavier, but the hand grip is so well-balanced I am completely comfortable holding it in shooting position for as long as I need. Being the type of photographer I am, I almost immediately put it's weather-sealing to the test; taking the camera and lenses out on a foggy, rainy, cold Colorado fall day. It performed without a hitch: my fingers were numb long before the battery dipped below 80%.
I knew from my E-M5 that the image stabilization feature would be good - but this camera blows IS out of the water. This is especially handy when using Live ND Mode to lengthen the shutter speed and smooth out the waves on a lake.
The only thing I find I really need my tripod for are astrophotography and "self-portraits."
There are so many things that I still have to learn, but of all the things there are a few standouts.
First, photography is HARD! But persistence and perseverance are the keys. I was lamenting to Peter that I take 1,000 pictures and really like only one. And he confirmed that this is pretty standard. For every shot that works, I take 999 that don't work for some reason. I have 14,000 pictures in my hard drive, and I'll only say about 150 are good enough for public viewing. The lesson is that you just keep trying things. Just because the weather app says that the clouds should be minimal does not mean that reality will cooperate. That full moon shot you wanted so badly may get obscured by thick, unpredicted cloud cover at the last second. So you can try that shot again next month, but for today you change plans and go somewhere else.
In photography, as in life, you are only rewarded when you put in the time and effort. I think of it as: if you dare not, you get naught. You have to go fail, and fail some more, and then fail a little more before you can start winning.
Second, the only thing you can predict about life is that it will surely do it's best to mess up your plans. Not that coordinating a photography project over a geographically diverse state was ever going to be easy, but this year... well this year had it in for us all in one way or another.
Beside the challenge of COVID, Colorado dealt with record-setting wildfires, and then early heavy snow, and each of these seemed to magically correspond to the days I had planned to be out shooting. I cancelled on one group of (very patient) girls no less than three separate times because of fires, then a blizzard, and finally that third "wave" of COVID that is upon us now.
Third, being Black in western Colorado is a lonely affair. Trying to make it look as if I haven't been out here alone for the sake of a photography project sounds great. I was excited at the prospect of using this project as a boost to open my social circle and make some new connections. But the reality is that I am and have been the only Black person in my social circle since I moved to the western slope, and it's not for lack of trying on my part.
You will see that my images are linked in one way - the aspect of solitude. The experience of being mixed race and living in western Colorado is one of being willing to put myself "out there" and be unafraid to be the only one that looks like me. I photographed myself, with the help of the OI Share remote control app on my phone, or a friend willing to "push this button right here, when I say."
Ultimately I decided that I would do better to document the reality of being me, rather than some currently unachievable utopian version of life. I will say this though. I have made some new connections that I will likely get out and photograph when COVID, wildfires, blizzards are less of a problem. My new hope is that more people will see that I am living here doing these things I do, and they will want to come join me.