A story about Friends, The Internet and the Olympus OM-D EM1 MKII
by Brandon Huff
I’m going to start off by saying that this article isn’t necessarily going to be a camera review nor a camera focused article. This is going to be a story that I happened to capture with the wonderfulÂ Olympus OMD EM1 MarkII, anyways lets get to it!
Around 7-8 years ago when I was about 14 years old I was a hardcore gamer. I mean HARDCORE gamer. At this point in my life I had a lot of time to play games. I mean I convinced my parents through negotiation and presidential summits that it would be beneficial for me to try out online high school. So after months of negotiation I won, I was essentially a free teenager which in my opinion had its positives and negatives. I could grow to be who I wanted to be with out the influx of popular social stigmas at the time, I had the free reign to study what I wanted to study and do what I wanted to do as long as I got my work done. However that meant I didn’t really meet anyone in person to hang out with in my real life at home.
As a kid (of course) I didn’t want to do school work (but of course I did) so my first priority was obviously playing Call of Duty like any teen of that time. During my gaming years I stumbled upon a group of people who all played together as a group. No one really knew each other in reality (in person, as in, it was an online friendship) but I could tell this was a group of friends that were playing together for a while. Every day that I signed on they would invite me to play, and soon, these became the people I associated with day in and day out.
Olympus OMD EM1II w/ M. Zuiko 25mm shot at F 1.2
The interesting thing about online friendships, or well, friendships in general I guess… They come and go sometimes but I can say today what I did not know back then. Let’s just say that June 27th 2011 would be the day that I would meet some of the most loyal and honest people of my life.
Since I was not going to traditional high school at this time these were my only friends, my best friends. Even though we were all from different states and across the country these guys became real lifelong friends. We didn’t need to go out every Friday night to have fun, nope! Our kind of fun was to sit down, play Xbox all night and just talk amongst each other.
When you talk to a group of people everyday, even through a headset, years upon years, connections start to be made. I mean we did play for almost 8 years!
Olympus OMD EM1II w/ M. Zuiko 25mm shot at F 4.5
The beautiful thing about the Internet is the fact that you can make friendships with anyone. Everyone in our group comes from a different background, none of us grew up in similar situations. It doesn’t matter what race, what country, what economic status you were raised in. Internet gaming doesn’t give you any preconceived notions to judge someone from, you can literally only judge someone based on their online persona.
So fast forward almost eight years and we arrive to the Friday of July 13th 2018. The day started out fine, I woke up early for work with way too little sleep as usual, came home, showered then turned on my xbox. I logged online as usual and was invited to our xbox group chat to play some games.
Since this was a Friday I knew it was going to be a long night, on Friday nights we all like to plan to play games until 4AM and maybe have a beer or two. It’s like going out to the bar, except some weird futuristic bar that spans across the entire country (that’s the internet right?). On this specific night, after all of these years, we all may have had one beer too many as we decided to impulsively make a plan to meet up in two weeks. All together, for the first time. Meeting face to face to hang out and after almost eight years we all felt it was time.
So we all booked flights to Atlanta, Georgia for the date of July 20th 2018. The reason we chose Georgia is because one our buddies has a house he owns, he’s a retired Marine and had the house free for the weekend. When I woke up the next morning I remember thinking the thoughts “what have I done?” I didn’t even know if I could get the days off approved for work. I do however have the attitude of “just do it” we had been waiting years to find this opportunity and I made it work and happen. In my opinion, live life and If its going to change your life in a positive way DO IT.
As the time kept clicking, creeping towards 9:30 AM my alarm went off, screaming at me to wake up for my flight in 3 hours. I promptly woke up, got ready, and made sure I had everything I needed before driving myself to the Airport. Once I arrived I drove up to the terminal parking, jotted down my location then went towards security. As I navigated through the airport, I grabbed a sandwich, a coffee and a chair and nervously waited till it was time to board. See, I say nervously because I had to fly standby, my step brother is an American Airlines pilot so I’m able to take advantage of that.
Up until boarding time I wasn’t even sure if I was going to get a seat, this weekend could of all come crashing down if too many people booked that flight. As the time approached 11:48 AM My palms were sweaty and I was preparing my self for disappointment. After about 2 minutes my name was shouted from the counter and they presented me with a seat number and a guaranteed flight to Atlanta.
After about 4 hours I landed in Georgia, picked up my bag and explored Hartfield-Jackson ATL. While I was waiting for my ride. I decided to get acquainted with Olympus’s awesome Live Composite mode they have implemented in their cameras. I found this room that overshadowed the arriving passengers and decided to set my camera on my Manfrotto Pixie and see what I got. As you can see from the photo above, this effect can show movement in nice detail and with lots of ease. It allows you to capture life as it naturally happens, essentially telling an entire story in one photo.
Olympus OMD EM1II w/ M. Zuiko 25mm f 3.5 Live Composite
Once my ride arrived to the airport I quickly jogged to the appropriate door, honed in on the car, jolted through traffic, and hopped in like I was late for work. This was when an online friendship turned into a solid fragment of reality. The weeks prior I thought that it might be awkward, I mean, I never saw these people talk with their bodies attached to them. I only had years of disembodied voices to connect with a physical being. I just hopped in a car with a random person but with the voice of my friend, lets just be honest and say it was very surreal to have an experience like that.
It almost all feels like a dream, like I had fallen asleep playing games only to wake up on my couch. As the night progressed we had others arrive at the airport, picked them up and all acted like this was normal. It felt as if we had met before and this had just been a yearly tradition. It was a real life version of our Xbox chat party, like it was some crazy realistic VR the government was testing on us. We only had one day to do things so we didn’t get to do too much, however that’s not what this trip was about.
All shots with the Olympus OMD EM1II and M Zuiko 25mm – OOC JPEGS
Now, I don’t have many things to say about the actual trip, Not because it wasn’t fun but because you would have had to have been there to know what went on. We didn’t do anything crazy, illegal, or anything worth a story. We went to some bars, ate delicious food, Played at topgolf, and just hung out.
It was our first time meeting without any games to distract us or to make conversation with, yes, the first time meeting my best friends. It’s crazy to think how one game of Call of Duty can change your circle of friends and sometimes even your life. It shows you that the people you get along with the most might not even live in the same city, maybe not even the same state as you do. I took the risk to meet people Ive never seen in person for one simple reason. I believe we are presented with certain opportunities throughout our lives but it is up to each and every one of us to pull the trigger and take the risk and follow through with those moments presented to us. This entire trip has changed my life and I know It has also changed the life of some of my friends. Humanity lives to experience moments like these, I suggest we all take some risks in our lives they may not all be successful but when they are its plenty worth it.
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