‘The 360in360 project was an idea I developed more than four years ago with an aim to showcase Australia in a way that has rarely been seen before.’ – Scott Portelli. [Article courtesy of Olympus]

‘The 360in360 project was an idea I developed more than four years ago with an aim to showcase Australia in a way that has rarely been seen before,’ says award-winning Olympus photographer Scott Portelli. The concept is as simple as it is ambitious, he explains. ‘By combining aerial, landscape and underwater images and video, stories that reflect the wildlife, nature, people and places that make up Australia, we intend to show the hidden gems that only local knowledge and immersing yourself in a place can provide.’

‘2020 was not the year to take on an epic one-year journey around Australia,’ Scott says with admirable understatement. ‘The plan was to spend the first few months in NSW and Victoria, but the tragic circumstances of Australia’s bushfires meant that we had to change plans. We donated our time to Conservation Victoria to shoot and film some of the fires and interview locals about the impacts. We also did a fundraiser to support the devastation that hit Kangaroo Island and managed to raise over $30,000 to donate to wildlife carers and organisations.

‘Then the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, and we were confined to a small cabin in Second Valley Campground on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula.’ Ever adaptable, Scott says that they turned the isolation into a positive. ‘The good thing is that it is so beautiful. We were surrounded by birdlife and had access to a small local beach, so with all the restrictions in place we could still photograph the wildlife in our own corner of paradise. We were also able to dive in the area and see the elusive rare Leafy Seadragons.’

A project of 360in360’s scope requires a versatile photographic kit. Scott says that his gear list includes three Olympus E-M1 Mark II bodies and an E-M1X.

‘The EM-1 Mark II’s we use in the underwater housing with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro for wide angle shots and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm f/2.8 Macro lens for critters and close up details. We also use the Olympus strobes for lighting underwater.

‘Above water I mainly use the E-M1X which is a great camera. It’s very fast and performs well and has an abundance of features that I keep finding new uses for. This is probably my main body for wildlife, with an M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro for bird photography.

‘A few other go-to lenses are the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100mm f/4.0 IS Pro as it is so versatile, and I also use the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro as my main landscape lens.’

How does Scott manage to so consistently capture great wildlife photographs? ‘I get asked this question a lot,’ Scotts says, adding, ‘I think aspiring wildlife photographers should explore their own backyard and see what animals are in their part of the world. Build a portfolio around a specific subject matter, style or genre, as this will help focus your photography and not cost you a fortune travelling around the world to see the weird and wonderful. If you make this your starting point and above all are persistent, you will achieve some beautiful images. Some of my more noteworthy international awards were taken close to home with subjects I knew well. The more you understand the behaviour of your subjects, the better the results will be.’

Cuttlefish eye

When it comes to photographing a new location, Scott follows a simple procedure. ‘I always explore and get a lay of the land, even if the conditions are amazing that day,’ he says. ‘I will always want to know my options so I can plan for the next day or week. The more you know about your environment – the light, the location, access to areas etc – the better the chances are that you will take a photograph that you have envisaged in your mind. Do a “reccie” first, it always pays off in the end.’

Asked what he seeks to achieve through his image-making, Scott replies that for him, ‘photography is the ultimate expression of creativity. An idea or a concept being brought to life through the execution of a photograph is the epitome of this artform. I find that photography never stops challenging you and encouraging you to strive to be better or learn more or perfect a moment in time. I hope my photography is multifaceted for viewers – I want to share a story, I want to educate someone about the natural world, I want to communicate messages of conservation and protection, I want to create art, I want to inspire people to explore and in its simplest form I want people to enjoy what they see.’

You can follow Scott’s adventure at his website 360 in 360.

Olympus Australia