A panoramic view of Helsinki South Harbour in the late 1920s. Photo: Erkki Mikkola / Picture Collections of the Finnish Heritage Agency. Objektinumero: KK5065:7.43B
A panoramic view of Helsinki South Harbour in the late 1920s. Photo: Erkki Mikkola / Picture Collections of the Finnish Heritage Agency (KK5065:7.43B)

The landscape captures attention

Erkki Mikkola photographed landscape panoramas during the early 1900s.

The panoramic view of the South Harbour in Helsinki has been taken in the late 1920s or the early 1930s. In the image, Airi-Anni Nordenswan looks at the ice-covered front of Helsinki from the Tähtitorninmäki Hill. She was the wife of the geologist Einar Nordenswan.
The ship at the quay is the Capella of the Suomen Höyrylaiva Osakeyhtiö, which ran aground in 1939 outside Norrköping and sank. The image is an excellent illustration of the characteristics of a panoramic view: lightness and airiness.

In 1982, the Finnish Heritage Agency received the picture collection of Erkki Mikael Mikkola as a donation. It includes eight albums, 1,269 photographs and 855 negatives. Approximately one half of the photographs are panoramic views. They have mainly been taken in Lapland and Kainuu, but there are also several fine panoramic views of Southern Finland. The photographs show Jyväskylä, Lapua, Lohja, Hollola, Padasjoki and Helsinki, among other things.

Mikkola was one of the earliest users of a panoramic camera in Finland. He either used the camera of the Geographical Society of Finland or borrowed one from his friends. It is thought that Mikkola borrowed a camera from the chemist Olavi Erämetsä, the Swiss geologist C. E. Wegmann or the Canadian geologist Ernst Håkan Kranck. Erkki Mikkola assisted the Professor of Geography J. G. Granö in taking the photographs for the book ‘Suomen maantieteelliset alueet’ (The geographic areas of Finland, 1932). The book ‘Kainuu kuvissa’ (Kainuu in images, 1938) has been published on the photographs he took. Mikkola also took photographs for the collection of the Finnish Travel Association.

In panoramic photography, Mikkola was interested in both the type of landscape and the topography of the terrain with its variable relief. He used a rotating panoramic camera. The people in the pictures act as a kind of scale for the landscape. At first, Mikkola took pictures of the topography and distinctive features of the landscape, but later he also photographed views with cultural and historical significance. In fact, his photographs are valuable documents of the 1920s and 1930s.

Erkki Mikkola was born in Ikaalinen on 18 July 1904 and died during the Winter War on 12 February 1940 in Taipale. Erkki, the eldest of the five boys in the Mikkola family, spent his summers in Lapland starting from his early years as a student. He first worked for gold prospecting companies, then in the first forest inventory team, and later he conducted his own scientific research. His interest in Kainuu is at least partially explained by Toini Teittinen, a geology student from Kajaani, whom Mikkola married. Mikkola graduated as a Doctor of Philosophy in 1932 and acted as assistant geologist of the Geological Commission of Finland. He engaged actively in landscape photography in particular. You can study the Erkki Mikkola picture collection via the kuvakokoelmat.fi online service of the Finnish Heritage Agency.

Jaana Onatsu

Kamera 3-4/2014