Spam is something we all struggle with. Some email accounts deal with them automatically, doing the great job of filtering actual emails as such.
I usually tend to check the spam folder, just in case. And it paid off... immensely!
One day I receive a very nice letter which seemed to be too elaborate to be junk. It was from Olympus. To my surprise they were inviting me over to a special event. So, still not convinced and skeptical, I replied accepting their invitation. Let's see how deep the rabbit hole is.
The very next day I received a reply with a set of questions such as from where would I like to fly from. I gave them all the information requested and again, the next day, I received another email with all the details of my trip, stay and full program! I was still skeptical. Let's see how deep the rabbit hole is.
So I land in Dublin on the 16th of September, excited, nervous, euphoric and attentive. My spider senses went wild when I saw the Olympus sign held by a wonderful lady with an amazing Irish accent. I was greeted, taken care of and overly fed all the way to Leslie Castle.
One or two things which need to be mentioned: I met two other photographers.
One of them, I noticed when changing airplanes in Amsterdam. His really cool tattoo on his forearm caught my attention. He was wearing glasses and looked like a cool guy. I soon found out his name was Ronald Koster. Later that day I went to check his website and found out he was a master in strobe lighting!
At the Dublin airport I met Stephen Elliot. He sports some really cool landscape photography skills and gathered quite a follow. One of the most vivid memories I have of him is his British accent. I wish I could have that accent.
The three of us were gathered at a bar and in less than 5 minutes we were deep into some really cool conversation! Other photographers arrived at the table from several different parts of the world. It was truly fun trying to figure out from where.
Once our group was gathered, we were taken to the bus where our second meal was awaiting. Sandwich and a bottle of water were served!
The view was beautiful. Have you ever watched "Shaun the sheep"? Well add some hills and there you have it! It was very picturesque. Sadly I fell asleep. Once we arrived Ronald confirmed that I didn't snore nor drool.
At the Lodge and everything was very impressive. The decor, the hanging heads of deers (I think), the waiters taking care of their guests and the presentation room.
After the food and the highly descriptive presentation of the EM-1 we were actually given one to play with for that day.
Now, I have seen things in my life from riding an elephant to surviving malaria. But I have never had the chance to breathe, eat in and sleep in a castle. I slept in the same bed Mick Jagger did!! Just to quote something from their website:
"The loo beyond the bathroom is called "The Throne Room" in honour of all the royalty who reined there."
"Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful also slept in the Mauve Room. Unfortunately, it was on a weekend when the inmates of a girls' reformatory school, run by nuns, chose to picnic by the lake. On hearing that "Mr McJeager" was in residence, they chased him round the lake screaming for blood. The only place where we felt he might be safe was on top of the (Protestant) church tower. So up he was sent, while we worked out a hostage rescue plan with the good nuns. Finally the tough delinquents agreed to moderate their behaviour in exchange for autographs, and Mick was eventually coaxed down."
My room was next to Sir Leslie too. Which I erroneously called Uncle Leslie.
My adventures went on as I was very well looked after by Olympus. Once again I would like to officially thank whoever gave me the chance to test the new OMD EM-1 camera at a special launch event at the beautiful Castle Leslie estate.
The location, the people, the crew and the photographers engraved an unforgettable experience.