Olympus have been around for a long time and they recently turned 100 years. To celebrate this I was invited to Utö together with a few other Swedish ambassadors. It was a grey and rainy Saturday morning when we met up at the train station in Stockholm. From there our journey consisted of a commuter train, a bus and then finally a boat before we reached our destination in the archipelago. Upon arrival we just dropped off our things, grabbed a bunch of cameras and headed out for a guided tour of the island.
Utö is an island with an interesting history that really surprised me. People started living there as early as the mid 500’s and unlike most islands in the archipelago it was neither fishing nor farming that became the main source of income. It was iron ore. Already during the 1100:th century people started to mine iron and the mines became one of the most important mines in Sweden and were used intensely for about 700 years. I had a hard time imagining a mine on such a small island, since I come from a mining town myself and know how big a mine can be. It was really cool to learn about this and see the remnants of the mines: gaping holes filled with water.
Today Utö is a popular destination in the archipelago and every year they have about 70.000 visitors. Around 250 people live there permanently. The beautiful nature is very well persevered since large parts of the island is a nature reserve. During 2017 and 2018 they’ve worked hard to clear more paths on the island and there’s now a 15km hiking trail taking you all the way around Utö. In case you do not want to walk the whole trail there are many connecting paths leading back to the mining village.
Another thing they’ve done recently is to put up a network that is free and accessible all across the island, which is great both for tourists and the people living there. I wish more small places outside the big cities put more resources into things like that to help encourage people to visit or move there since internet is such an important part of our daily lives and work now a days.
During this weekend we also got a presentation about the history of Olympus and the company’s vision, as well as their thoughts behind creating the new E-M5 MKIII. I’ve had a chance to try the camera a little bit and after the presentation I felt that I really want to get one. Why? It is small and lightweight, can film in slow motion and I can charge it using the usb cable which means I do not need to take the battery out and put in a separate charger which is great when traveling as much as I do and wanting to pack light!
In the evening we were all out in the rain playing with light painting (which happens to be what the word photography literally means) and trying out the live capture feature of the cameras. It’s amazing for doing this kind of thing, or shooting northern lights for example, as you see the light grow and the image for on the screen – live – and then you stop when you like the result. It’s lucky the cameras are weather proof because we all got pretty wet.
Afterwards we went inside to Utö Värdshus for food, beer & good conversations. We we’re such a good group with different niches, and some of us have been on Instagram from the start while others had just joined which created some great topics to discuss. Hanging out with likeminded people is extremely rewarding and inspiring.
Thank you for this weekend Olympus!