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Picture in an exhibition

These lovely ladies are among the artisans in a village in the eastern state of Odisha in India. It’s a Dalit village – I hesitate to use the word “Untouchable”, but according to the hideous and persistent caste system, that is how they are regarded. They are wearing blankets donated by the airline Finnair through the small Finnish NGO Tikau Share. I have been lucky enough to be able to visit this village on several occasions and the villagers are now used to seeing me and my camera.

The conditions in the village are very basic, although Tikau Share is helping to gradually improve them and to support the community’s transition to sustainability. The plan is to build a community centre that can be used for schooling, health care visits, shelter during the monsoon storms and safe storage for craft items produced for Tikau Share’s “sister” company, Tikau, and sold in its Helsinki boutique.

My small exhibition, Village Women, just opened in the Cafe Aalto at Helsinki’s Stockmann Academic Bookshop. The 15 pictures are an attempt to reflect the grace and beauty of these ladies in the face of the extreme poverty in which they live. The cafe is on the second floor of the shop and the exhibition is on until the end of August. I hope you’ll go and take a look if you happen to be in Helsinki.

The technical details

This shot was taken on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 with 18-55mm zoom at 18mm. My “main” camera is still a Canon EOS5D MkII, but I am finding the XPro-1 increasingly useful for travel work. The camera has a “retro” feel to it, the lenses are lightweight but have excellent optics, and the compact nature of the system makes it less obtrusive. As you can see in this picture, I can get up close to people and they are not intimidated, as they sometimes are by the big (and still excellent) Canon lenses. Most importantly, the picture quality is great. The X-Pro1 is top of the range of a new series of Fujifilm cameras that are catching the eye of professional photographers – especially those like me who are yearning for a top-quality alternative to the Canon and Nikon shoulder-busters. If I can carry, say, 5 kilos on a trip instead of 12, that’s what I’m going to do if the quality is sufficiently high. I’m probably going to be talking a lot more about this camera and its lenses in the future.

Every picture tells a story…

…is going to be the theme of this blog from now on. I’m intending to present a continuous series of shots at regular intervals, to tell the story behind each one, and to give basic technical information about how the picture was taken. I know this interests a lot of people. There are plenty of blogs and reviews out there about the technical quality of lenses and so on, but my aim is to show how the equipment works (and sometimes doesn’t) in practice. Some of the pics will be from new trips, some will be samples from the archives and competition winners.

So watch this space and do come back later! And get in touch using the reply form below if you want to comment or ask a question.