The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen, Denmark

FEBRUARY 2005 – The statue of The Little Mermaid (in Danish: Den lille Havfrue) on a cloudy day. © Mark Zanzig/

The story behind the image

Today I picked an exceptionally nice image for you. It shows the statue of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. Oh wait! What’s that? Something is wrong with this picture. Forget about the fact that I captured the statue on a cloudy day. And please ignore the tiny P&S Sony camera. It’s the crop and the angle that are way off.

Here’s the full story.

When I visited the Copenhagen office on a business trip, we prolonged the trip over the weekend. Not only were the flights way cheaper, we could also see the city of Copenhagen. And when you are in Copenhagen you simply have to visit The Little Mermaid and capture it on photo. Right? Right!

So when we came to the world famous photo location I was disappointed (and that’s the friendliest word I could find.) That’s because the statue – when shot on eye level – has a beautiful skyline full of factories or power plants with smoking chimneys in the back. It was genuinely ugly. (See photo above.)

I was even more shocked to see many folks actually shooting the statue with the skyline as backdrop. (And people post their photos. Google has countless photos with the skyline.)

And its quite easy to fix this issue: Find the right angle (slightly from above), and keep the skyline out of the frame. Like this shot:

The statue of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, Denmark. © Mark Zanzig/

In case you are wondering: The “ugly” shot at the top was taken just 19 seconds after the shot at the bottom with the same camera. The focal length of the “ugly” shot was 7.9 mm, which converts to about 50 mm on a full frame body, making the shot look pretty natural. The focal length of the “nice” shot was 15.4, i.e. about 100 mm on a FF body, a medium zoom. This creates a win-win-win situation, because we can 1) put the focus on the statue, 2) get closer to the statue despite the higher position (which can only be assumed further away from the statue), and 3) keep the skyline out of the frame! Hoorah!

The high resolution image

Capture Date26-FEB-2005, 13:44
LocationCopenhagen, Denmark
CameraSony DSC-P72
Exposure1/250 sec at f/6.3
Digital Image Source FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image FormatJPEG, 24 bits/pixel, sRGB
Edited Image Dimensions2048 x 1536 Pixels
Copyright© by Mark Zanzig/

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