10 – The First Ten Years

FUJIFILM FinePix X100 (23mm, f/8, 1/40 sec, ISO200)

August 2012 I finally ditched my old website and started this blog. Main reason was the Fuji X100 and little cameras with big sensors in general. The birth of littlebigtravelingcamera

Ten years later my favourite camera still comes from Fuji. In order to celebrate this anniversary I thought to choose my one favourite picture of every year plus a little background story. Not that easy. For most of those years I have over 10.000 images in my catalog. A result of 3-4 business trips to Asia and one or two vacations per year. It is not about the best image of the year but more about a special location or a special day. Let’s go.

First image from early spring 2012 taken during an early morning walk through Riga, Latvia. I was on a business trip and since I woke up early I decided to go for a walk through the old town of Riga. It was a beautiful morning. A sunny day with blue skies but it was biting cold. I didn’t bring hat or gloves because it was already much warmer were I live so my ears and hands hurt when I returned to my hotel. It was well worth it.

FUJIFILM X-Pro1 (14mm, f/9, 1/60 sec, ISO640)

The next image is from March 2013. My first business trip to South East Asia which took me to Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines. All in two weeks. I took this image on my first morning in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam right in front of my hotel.

During breakfast I realised that the morning traffic started to pick up. I have never seen so many scooters in my life so I had to go down there to take some images. At the end I stood there in my suit with my camera around my neck for almost half an hour practicing panning shots as an endless stream of scooters passing by. I sure looked ridiculous or at least very strange but the people were smiling at me or waved their hand. My favourite shot is the one were I’ve been ignored by anyone except the little girl with the stool under her feet.

Nowadays we got used to masks but that was the first time I saw people wearing masks. The reason is not a virus but the pollution caused by two million motorcycles. When I got into my taxi I was coughing because of course at that time I didn’t bring a mask.

FUJIFILM X-T1 (55mm, f/8, 1/420 sec, ISO200)

The year 2014 was a though one. I had an accident with my road bike where I broke my collarbone. Two months later and just before we went to the USA for vacation I had a disc prolapse on my lower back. So I was rather beaten up. There was no way that I would cancel my road trip in the USA but to lug around my Canon full frame gear was not an option either. Right before we flew off I bought a Fuji X-T1 plus kit lens and for my wife a Fuji X-M1 double lens kit so that I would have a tele zoom too. My first all Fuji vacation. My camera gear never was that light before and I missed nothing.

The image is from the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Even though we have been to the South West of the USA six times we came here only once. Mainly because it is not fun to drive through New Mexico. The roads are just endless! But the place is amazing. Make sure that you don’t forget to bring your sunglasses!

FUJIFILM X-T1 (14mm, f/4, 1/60 sec, ISO2500)

Bangkok was always one of my favourites when I went to South East Asia. The Thai people are amazing, the food is breathtaking (sometimes literally) and the temples are a travel photographers dream. After the trip to the USA the Fuji X-T1 has replaced my X-Pro1.

I loved the X-T1 because of its size and its big viewfinder but build quality was not up to the standard of the X-Pro1. The problem was the rubber on the grip and the SD card door. After two years of traveling the camera looked beaten up. A year later the X-Pro2 came out. I used this camera for 6 years and it still looks like new.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (23mm, f/2, 1/6000 sec, ISO200)

I always traveled a lot for business but 2016 was my busiest year. A highlight was my visit of the Taj Mahal during a two week trip to India. This was already my third visit of the Taj Mahal and this time the weather was perfect. It was very warm but not hot and less humid compared to my other visits. A perfect summer day in December. That’s why I stayed longer than before and explored the location from various viewpoints. I really got into a flow and took some of my favourite pictures there.

The one of the monkey where I used the Taj Mahal as a background is my personal favourite. What a day!

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (35mm, f/1.4, 1/2000 sec, ISO200)

For my business trips I finally settled with the following set up: Fuji X-Pro2, XF14/2.8R, XF 23/2WR and XF35/1.4R. With the X-Pro2 the autofocus of the XF35/1.4R was finally fast enough that I really started to enjoy this lens. I always liked it optically but now I just loved the lens. The lenses I use most are still the 14mm and the 23mm but every time I shoot with the 35mm I just love what I get.

It’s my oldest lens. I got together with my X-Pro1 in 2012 and though its AF mechanism looks a little delicate and the aperture ring is far too loose the lens still works like new.

In 2017 I went to Japan for the second time. For the first time I extented my business trip over the weekend in order to explore Tokyo. This is the most famous temple in Tokyo and it is packed with tourists from all over the world. Some young ladies dress up in beautiful costumes and take pictures of each other like in the image above.

I shot the 35/1.4 wide open in order to make the blur the people behind my subject and also the hand holding that mobile phone in the front (held by an equally beautiful dressed young lady). My subject wasn’t posing for me but for a second she looked straight into my camera. That’s when I took the shot.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (28.3mm, f/4, 1/250 sec, ISO320)

About a year later in Seoul, Korea. This time the young ladies were posing for me. It seems that this has become a thing. Young women dress up in traditional clothes to take their pictures in front of temples. This is what those three friends were doing when they recognised me. Nowadays most people take their pictures with a smartphone. Many times I’m the only person with a camera. Because of that people seem to have trust in my capabilities and hand me their smartphones to take a picture of them.

So here I took four shots. Three with three different smartphones and when I was done I asked them if I could take a picture of them with my camera. What I love about this shot besides its simplicity is the fact that the three young ladies are from three different countries: Russia, China and South Korea. Maybe there is still hope.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (181.1mm, f/6.4, 1/160 sec, ISO320)

2019 My first visit to New York! Finally! We booked our hotel on Staten Island so that we could approach Manhattan by sea the next day. Just like the brother of my grand-grand father and his family when they left Europe for a new start in America. I got quite emotional when I thought about them and how they must have felt passing the Statue of Liberty to enter a completely new world.

We took the 8am ferry to Manhattan. Beside us there were only commuters on board, most of them sitting inside but there was a man reading a book and a woman making her make up next to us. I was shooting with two cameras (X-H1 plus 16-55 and X-Pro2 with the 55-200) in order to avoid to lose time on lens changes.

This was my favourite shot. The Staten Island ferry in front of the skyline of New York. A perfect shot and an emotional highlight of the trip that also brought us to Detroit, the Niagara Falls and many other beautiful spots in the East before we returned to three more days in New York.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (35mm, f/4, 1/1400 sec, ISO200)

February 2022, when I looked out of my hotel window in Tokyo I saw Mount Fuji for the very first time! I have been to Japan a couple of times before but never managed to see the mountain. Not from my hotel room, not from the top of the house of the major nor from the train. I used to travel to Osaka and back to Tokyo on all my trips by train. The Shinkansen (or bullet train) passes Mount Fuji at one point but every time I came to this point where the train is closest to the mountain it was either dark already or cloudy. I already thought that I might never see Mount Fuji.

But finally on that morning the conditions were perfect and I could see Fuji covered in snow even though he is more than 100km away. I took the picture with the longest lens I had with me. Of course the mountain would have looked more impressive if I had a tele lens but the XF35/1.4R was all I got. A day later I also saw the mountain from the train and much closer but I still prefer this shot because it was the first time that I saw Mount Fuji.

Tokyo, February 2020: In the newspaper a report of a cruise ship stranded in the Port of Yokohama. On board thousands of tourists and a new virus. Soon the whole world would be upside down and even more than two years later it still is.

FUJIFILM X-Pro2 (14mm, f/3.6, 1/80 sec, ISO2500)

Like 2020, 2021 was a difficult year. My trip to Japan in February 2020 was my last business trip to Asia and my last trip abroad in general for more than a year. In autumn 2021 we finally went abroad again but we stayed close to home. Croatia. Croatia is a beautiful place and it felt great to travel again. It was also wonderful not to be reminded on Corona all of the time. Croatia was even more busy than in previous years mainly because Spain or Portugal were closed for tourists. The little narrow streets in Split where buzzing.

Life felt good again but of course we all had to pay for this summer. Covid cases soared again in late autumn and we went into another lock down. I took this image in a small town on the island Pag. One of our favourite places in Croatia. Children at play after sunset on the town square. Life can be good sometimes.

This year we already returned from our vacation. Still no long distance trip even though I was already in Japan for business. We stayed close to home partly because of Corona but also because of the price hikes for practically everything. Initially we planned to go to the USA again but prices for flights, car rental and hotel rooms increased dramatically while the Euro depreciated against the dollar.

So we went on a road trip again, this time to Poland. We drove through Poland until we ended up at the sea. Gdansk is a very beautiful city. It almost feels like you are in Copenhagen or Stockholm but the prices in the restaurants are decent. Poland is a kind of secret tip. Beautiful cities, friendly people, good food. It is almost impossible to comprehend that there is a war going on next door.

That’s it. The first ten years. When I started this blog I had no idea that it would still exist 10 years later. Ten years ago I also had no idea that I would sell my full frame cameras and go all Fuji one day. The Fuji X system is not perfect but it is perfect for me and I think it is the best choice for travel photography.

FUJIFILM X-Pro3 (23mm, f/5.6, 1/210 sec, ISO160)