The Olympus OM-D on the Road: Istanbul Day 1 – By Colin Steel

The Olympus OM-D on the Road: Istanbul Day 1 – By Colin Steel

See his blog HERE

Hey fellow photo travelers, welcome to this first post from my trip to Istanbul for a workshop with Peter Turnley . The workshop is street shooting orientated with a photojournalistic theme and I decided to arrive a few days early to acclimatize and get into the spirit. I arrived at the hotel at 9:00 a.m. this morning having flown over night from Singapore and decided to hit the streets immediately. The hotel we are in is right in the centre of Sultanahmet in the old city and I just couldn’t wait to explore so I grabbed my Olympus OM-D with Lumix 14mm F2.5 and hit the streets. First up, this is a wonderful little travel combo, incredibly light, robust and flexible. I mentioned in previous posts that I am really warming to shooting with the touch shutter on the cameras rear screen and I am convinced this is the way to go with street shooting. I am also finding that its not an intimidating set up and it doesn’t get the reaction that the bigger DSLR and lenses would. The opening shot is a good example of this as I was able to engage the subject in conversation while I shot away with the touchscreen, and it worked a treat.

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Although I would class myself as an experienced photographer, the thought of focusing entirely on Street Photography was a little foreign although fortunately I think it aligned with the way I shoot anyway. Traditionally I use wider lenses of the order of the 24, 28, 35 & 40 focal lengths and I usually try to shoot what I would term ‘context’ shots so I guess trying to story tell and create interesting little series of shots isn’t actually that far from what I do anyway. I watched a tremendous little Magnum in Motion clip by Alex Webb when I was researching for this trip and I was struck by the depth of interest in his photos, the best ones seem to be multilayered with interesting elements that all come together to trap your eye in the frame. Inspired by this I have been trying to keep that in mind when I explore any interesting subjects that I come across and I think the window shot above is about as close as I have got to it yet.

One thing that is clear to me after my first few hours here is that I think I have the gear choices spot on. As is my way recently, I have gone really light and brought the OMD, GX1 and a few primes including the Lumix 14 & 20, the Sigma 30 and the Olympus 45 (these all of course double for equivalent focal length). In addition I brought the Samyang fisheye thinking it might be useful in the gorgeous mosques. I have started out today with just the OMD and 14 & 20 and they have been perfectly suited to this style. I also bought a very cheap Lowepro Exchange Messenger bag which is ridiculously light and a great compliment to the micro 43 kit, housing it all with ease and, in combination with the tiny lightweight lenses, being no trouble to carry in the city heat.


From what I have seen so far of Istanbul, and please remember I have only been here for a matter of hours, its reputation as a street-shooters paradise looks to be warranted. Every turn of a corner holds something new to see and some variety of light and subject matter. The blend of old and new is certainly there as well and contrasts abound. So far I have only been refused by a couple of subjects and that’s fair enough, I think as I adapt and become better at this style, the hit rate of keepers will rise.

Well, I am starting to tire a little so I am going to grab some coffee and a snack before I shoot in the late afternoon light which should be great. It is also my intention to leave the hotel around 5 a.m. tomorrow to see how the city looks around sunrise so it will be an early one tonight. It is my intention to try to update this every day if I can but not sure how achievable that will be once the course starts and I really get into it. Anyway, in the meantime happy shooting.




  1. Hi Colin,

    Of the many postings/articles on Steve’s site, I must admit I’ve really enjoyed postings of your travels throughout SE Asia. I’m even more delighted to see that you have a Panny GX1 as well. Just this past February my wife and I went to Ko Lanta, Thailand just outside Krabi province…and prior to the trip I bought a GX1 with their 20mm specifically for this trip and our future travels.
    Love the camera and the lens, my only gripe is their color processing in JPEG (RAW photos taken on vacation just take too much time to post-process hundreds of shots) …do you make any in menu changes to get a more pleasing color output? (closer to that of an Oly) … I did change the camera’s iDynamic and iResolution settings to ‘standard’ and see that it made a significant improvement. Any suggestions would be helpful?
    Keep those postings coming.

  2. “Fisheye-Hemi” is a great plug-in to use with the Samyang fish-eye, Colin – it “undistorts” the edges of those photos to give an even wider angle, pretty much “straight” (rectilinear) picture. Info from the software writers here: (don’t worry; no nasty viruses there).

    Cheers, David.

    • Hi Nick,

      That’s interesting, I find that the two cameras I use have a slight tendency to under expose and they are edited in Lightroom on a calibrated monitor.

      Can you have a look at the originals here as I think they flatten and lose a bit when Steve takes them over into his site.



  3. Great pictures Colin! I feel you have the same enthusiasm for the OM-D as I do. For me personal, it’s my best investment since my very first SLR Nikon FE ( some 35 years ago…)
    With the excellent body and my two lenses (Oly 12 mm and Oly 45 mm) , well thats all I need to take some amazingly sharp, well balanced, speedy, great high ISO shots, … well the list goes on… All that at very low weight, no bulk (when one lens is on the body, the other one just sits in my jacket pocket)
    I can’t tell you how happy and how relieved I am with this tool.
    My Nikon DSLR is gathering dust on my shelf 🙂

    Thanks for posting, and looking forward to your next “daily inspiration”.

    Take care,


  4. Peter Turnley is a brilliant photographer, and I love his photo essays (Parisians and many others).
    I think his workshop will be an inspiration for you and your photography – and Istanbul I am sure will help the creative juices to run.

    Let us know how you get on, and best of luck.


  5. Yes! This is street photography!
    Great stuff. I really hope you keep updating us during your time there.

  6. I am impressed with your use of layers in your photos. In my opinion this is the way to go in street photography (and for some other suitable types of photography), in contrast to the use of ridiculously shallow DOF.
    Keep it up!

    • Thanks Kelvin,

      I tend to agree with you, I like to see certain subjects photographed that way but it is defiantly over rated in my opinion and mostly I like to show as much context as possible – not less.

      Thanks for looking,


  7. Some people have all the luck! All I get to do is drool over the chance to attend one of Turnley’s workshops. Costs are just out of my price range but I do visit his site often for inspiration!!!

    Love your images especially the last three! Great context to those images as you noted. Enjoy the workshop and keep posting!!!

  8. Great article as ever Colin! Really like the image of the watch seller with the other seller in the background. Also the last two with the low viewpoints that I assume you took using the flip up screen?

    • Thanks Gary, appreciate your comments.

      Yeah, much to my surprise I have found myself using the flip out screen a lot, it works very well and you can shoot discreetly or engage the subject.



  9. Forgot to ask you to report on how the camera does in low light. Big challenge for dawn and dusk . Shooting wide and close is quite difficult in low light .

    • Yeah, you are right Roger. It is better than I thought to be honest. Some of the shots in the day 2 & 3 posts were in pretty low light and they held up ok. In the wedding shots I took on day 3 I overdid the noise reduction in Lightroom by mistake so they look a bit too plastic but that was my fault.

      The lenses are quite fast though and as you can imagine that makes a huge difference. I have the Lumix 20mm F1.7 and Olympus 45 F1.8 as well as the little Lumix 14 mm F2.5 which I can hand hold at very low shutter speeds.

      It won’t replace a D3s but they are getting much better.



  10. Nice pictures. You’ve managed to catch the spirit of the area and tell stories within your images. Loved them.

    If you’re still in Istanbul, forget the Sultanahmet area and the old city alltogether. Head out to Balat, or the new city center: Taksim. Go for a lovely evening by the beach at Caddebostan. Take a walk in Ortaköy. Discover Tarlabaşı, it’s on the verge of demolition.

    • Hey, thanks for this. I have a few days after the workshop and will try to venture to a couple of these at least.

      Thanks again,


      • Contact me at if you need anything 🙂 If you need to locate anything(camera shops, certain places to go etc) I’ll be more than happy to help 🙂

  11. Colin Great post . I ve done this workshop with Peter several times . Your are wise to get there a few days early and warm up . I typical consider this the sketching phase where you get the logistics down and determine when the best light and subject availability occur . Get some sleep while you can . I can still remember the macbook sliding off my lap when I was editing in Prague at midnight .

    I can see you favor shooting low and unless you are unusually athletic aren t looking thru the viewfinder .

    Tell Peter I saw your post … Roger

    • Hey Roger, thanks. I will say to Peter when I meet him today at the workshop start.

      Yeah, I am less athletic than ever as I get older 🙂 I have been using the flip out screen on the OMD a lot and even tripping the shutter from the touch screen if the light is good enough to avoid shake.



    • Hey Roger, thanks. I will say to Peter when I meet him today at the workshop start.

      Yeah, I am less athletic than ever as I get older 🙂 I have been using the flip out screen on the OMD a lot and even tripping the shutter from the touch screen if the light is good enough to have a decent shutter speed to avoid shake.



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