Pictures from a small Baltic island

Posts tagged “beautiful

New Year, new camera, new me

The joy of shopping in Helsinki

IN OCTOBER I bought myself an early Christmas present. A Fujifilm Finepix x100. Now there are lots of photographers out there who have done pretty exhaustive reviews of the camera’s good points, bad points and the fact it’s rather overpriced. I agree, it is bloody expensive.

But I just want to talk about how the x100 makes me feel as a photographer. Physically it reminds me of my first ‘proper’ camera – an Olympus OM10. It’s beautiful, small, quiet and discreet. I’ve already been out and tried some street photography with it. When you carry a 5D Mark 2, as I usually do, people are wary of you. So you tend to stand a little further away than necessary.

When you have an x100 you just look like another tourist. I like that.

I’ve also seen a lot of photographers complain about the fact the x100 only has a 23mm fixed lens (that’s 35mm in old money). Well, I love that too. I fear modern photographers have become lazy. This camera makes you use your feet and get close to your subject. And that’s what photography used to be about, as I recall.

Take this street photograph. I had to go right up to the shop window to capture it. Not only did I get the wonderful smile of the shopper, I also captured a wide range of reflections in the glass from the street behind and the closeness made the foreground details of shoes and bags really large in the perspective. Lovely. Action across the frame. Depth. In short, a story.

So how does this camera make me feel? Well, it makes me feel like a young photographer again.

And that, to me, is well worth the high price…


Seeing through the daily mist

Morning mist over an Åland inland lake

Morning mist over an Åland inland lake

Morning mist rising over an inland lake during Autumn on Åland © Rob Watkins

I THINK most people pass great pictures every day. Sometimes they don’t see them. Sometimes they do see them and say to themselves: “Oh, what a shame I missed that great picture.” Often, given the right circumstances, the shot will reappear if you go back at a similar time.

This picture was taken from the main road to town from my house. I passed this lake every day on the bus for a year while I was learning Swedish. Most of the time the lake was pretty, but not a great picture. Never confuse those two things. Pretty scenes rarely make great pictures in my experience. But in the Autumn the rising morning mist over the lake made the scene very dramatic.

This effect often doesn’t last very long, maybe about 20 minutes on misty days, over a period of about four weeks in September and October every year. For a week I woke up early to check the atmospheric conditions were right. The day I saw great mist cover over the land I drove in instead of taking the bus. I stopped and waited for the mist to clear by the right amount. I used a telephoto lens, about 200mm, to crop out some unwanted details and compress the distance between those little peninsulas of water reeds.

So the lesson is, try to look at the things you see every day with new eyes. And if you miss a great opportunity once, go back. Sometimes I’ve been back to a location seven or eight times before recreating a great scene and it’s so satisfying when you finally get that picture!

This picture is available to buy from by searching for ‘watkins aland’