November 2015, Sri Lanka

“Those carriages are from Romania,” said the little old man next to me. “They are fifty years old.”

I’d scooted over on the long station bench to make room when he shuffled by. He sat between me and a man on the other side, birdlike, ancient, watching with interest while I took pictures of the carriages. There was a long scar that ran from just under his jaw, into his shirt. I found out later that he survived the rail disaster of 2004. The coastal train line that runs from Colombo to Galle that I am so charmed by, is at utter mercy of the ocean.

Kollupitiya Station platform | Fujifilm X-Pro 2, XF 27mm f2.8
Kollupitiya Station platform | Fujifilm X-Pro 2, XF 27mm f2.8

“Where are you from?” he wanted to know. Singapore and Denmark, we said. He lit up at mention of the latter, bifocaled eyes magnifying the pleasure, eyebrows and ears lifting with the corners of his mouth. My father had beamed in that same way when amused by something.

“My sister lives in Copenhagen,” he said. “Wonderful country.”

He’d visited Copenhagen some time ago, and liked Danes very much.

He bid us goodbye when his train pulled into the station, was helped into a carriage by one of the crowd in it, and was gone.

Aboard the train | X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2 | 1/115 sec, f2, ISO 12,800
Aboard the train | X-Pro 2, XF 18mm F2

All posts from Colombo here.


  1. Erin Wilson says:

    Oh, I bet the top image would make a sublime print.

    1. Charlene says:

      Hmmmm, there’s an idea for a postcard!

  2. c.colby says:

    the train, red like an oil painting, deep, saturated, through the window, an interior – beautiful!

    1. Charlene says:

      Thank you. I think that is one of the reasons I loved them so. They beckon from just over the border of an age I don’t recognize.

  3. Thomas says:

    Hei, Charlene :)

    Thanks for the great pictures and the wonderful blog. Lots of great stuff here. I don’t envy you in the slightest that you get to travel around the world and take pictures. *cough*

    Was going to ask you how you like the 27mm. I’ve got the 18-55mm, which is a fine all-rounder, but I’d like a prime for a more compact setup with my X-pro1. I’m thinking about the 35mm f2, but the focal length might be little too tight, and though the lens is smallish, it’s still not that compact. The rumored 23mm f2 would be interesting, but I doubt they’ll be able to make it smaller than the 35mm f2 (considering the 35mm f1.4 is smaller than the 23mm 1.4).

    I know about all the “deficits” of the 27mm, but because of the small size and apparently more than acceptable image quality I feel this could be the ideal lens to always carry along, especially for casual shooting (street, my kids, etc.).

    What do you think? Maybe you could write a little blog post about this lens?

    Wishing you all the best (from a Norwegian living in Poland).


    1. Thomas says:

      Follow up: Since this comment, I have ditched digital, sold my X-Pro1 and gone back to film. I acquired an Olympus OM-1, a 28mm 2.8, 35mm 2.8 and 50 1.8 for about the price of a new Fujinon XF27mm. Winding the film, focusing manually, hearing the sound of the mirror – it’s different world :)

      1. Charlene says:

        I bet it is. Ah, digital will be around whenever you decide to pick it up again (or not). Enjoy :)

    2. Thomas says:

      Digital is no doubt more practical, but I only shoot on an “enthusiast basis”, so the slowed-down modus operandi suits me fine. The light meter doesn’t work, so using Sunny 16 generally plus a handheld spot meter I try to memorize exposure settings. And as long as there’s someone to service the camera and someone to produce and develop film, I’m set. No megapixel race for me :) Take care.

    3. TD says:

      Hiya Charlene. I’ve just bought a decent film scanner, and so far I’m very pleased with the results. I’ve posted a few pics here if you’d care to take a look: . Cheers, Thomas

      1. Charlene says:

        I’ll certainly have a look Thomas!

  4. Thomas says:

    Fantastic! Great review. Despite the slowness and lack of aperture ring, I feel this field of view and the lens’ compactness will suit me very well.

    Take care.

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