Olaf Sztaba

Welcome to Classic Chrome | Olaf Sztaba

Along with the rise of Instagram and iPhone photography, there has been a flood of filters and film simulations. Unfortunately, the majority of these tools are formulated very poorly and the results can be quite grotesque. When I heard that Fujifilm is working on a new film simulation, Classic Chrome, I was intrigued. After all, Fuji has been known for its expertise in film and the JPEGs coming out of the X-series cameras have been one of the best in the industry. The latest Fuji X100T and Fuji X-T1 Graphite came with Classic Chrome. Some photographers who got their hands on these cameras posted some photos bearing the Classic Chrome look and we really liked what we saw. Those who practise street, documentary photography or fine art photography should be very pleased with this modern take on the Kodachrome-like look. The colours are subtle and slightly suppressed but pleasing and natural to the eye. Although we haven’t had a chance to shoot with the Fuji X100T or Graphite X-T1, the recent Lightroom 5.7 update offers an opportunity to paint with light – Classic Chrome style. We couldn’t resist applying this new colour palette to some chosen photos…..

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Striking Gold with the Fuji X-series | Olaf Sztaba

British Columbia has a lot to offer – stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, a high quality of life and friendly people. Despite its many attributes, it wasn’t natural beauty and certainly not the quality of life that brought early settlers to this part of this world. It was gold! Kasia and I recently went on a trip to the Cariboo region, driving along Highway 97, also known as the Gold Rush Trail. Like the early miners, we were there for adventure and mining for … great imagery. We travelled equipped with the Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 14mm F2.8, XF 56mm F1.2 and X100S. The trip took us from Vancouver to Hope, small but charming Ashcroft and Cache Creek. From there we drove north along Highway 97 through Clinton, 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House and 150 Mile House. Then we travelled further north to Williams Lake and Quesnel, from which we headed east toward the funky town of Wells and historic Barkerville…..

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Connecting with a Landscape | Olaf Sztaba

There are more similarities between photographing landscapes and people than you think. When working with people, a photographer must achieve a certain level of connection and trust that allows them to relax and open up emotionally and visually. On many levels, a similar dynamics plays out when photographing landscapes. You must “feel” the place, connect with it and give it time to reveal itself to you. So often I see photographers running around stunning landscapes fixated on a few photographed-to-death spots and rushing from one location to another. And I know what I am talking about – I have done it myself! Slow down, look around and don’t fixate on the most popular spots. “Be there” before you take out your camera. Very often you will notice different elements and visuals, but be warned – you may come back from your trip with images you didn’t plan to take. It may well be the best imagery you have ever created…….

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Voyage, Voyage with the X100S | Olaf Sztaba

One of my favourite visual exercises is to venture out with the Fuji X100S. I usually do it on the weekends and in the early morning and it’s not only for the good light. You would be surprised how public spaces change when deserted. The lack of crowds and noise allows you to concentrate on the art of seeing, at least for me. Why the Fuji X100S? We have written extensively about this gem of a camera and why, in our view, it is still the best digital camera on the market. The greatest appeal lies in its size, simplicity and fixed lens. I walk around looking innocent and people don’t even notice when I take photographs. Many view me as a non-threatening tourist with his little point-and-shoot. The fixed lens, dedicated knobs and lack of camera bags let me focus on theme, light and composition! You may say that it is not a good idea to limit yourself but the longer I’ve been taking photographs, the more I think that constraint is one of the most important pillars of photography……

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The Canadian Rockies with the Fuji X-series | Olaf Sztaba

The three-week hiatus in our blog postings was not the result of World Cup fever or some R&R. Quite the opposite! We went away for a photo trip to the spectacular Canadian Rockies and we worked hard (waking up at 3:30 AM everyday!) to get you the best imagery possible. We have a lot of material to share with you – including our latest thoughts about gear and processing. While we go through our work here are some teaser images shot with the Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 14mm F2.8, XF 56mm F1.2 and Fuji X100S. Stay tuned……..

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The Palouse – A Visual Journey with the Fuji X-Series – Part 2 |
Olaf Sztaba

What a great trip it was! In our previous blog entry we shared the first photos from our escapade into the stunning Palouse region of southeastern Washington. Thank you for all your kind comments, shared stories and questions. The most appealing feature of the region is, ironically, the lack of popular spots such as Half Dome in Yosemite or Antelope Canyon in Arizona. The Palouse is for each individual to unravel and photograph. Every corner, every dirt road hides a visual gem to discover and some of them are only visible to you. While we made some preparations before the visit, such as studying excellent maps of Palouse by Teri Lou Danzler (you can get them here), the majority of our images came from exploring small rural dirt roads. The abundance of patterns and stunning visuals offer huge opportunities but you need concentration and strong composition skills. On the topic of composition, the process of elimination is especially important when photographing Palouse…….

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The Palouse – A Visual Journey with the Fuji X-Series | Olaf Sztaba

Each world religion has a place of very special importance where millions of the faithful make their pilgrimage. Similarly, there is a place that every photographer should visit. It is a land like no other. The unconscious beauty of the land captivated us. The abundance of shapes, patterns and colours produces dream-like visuals, which might overwhelm your senses at first. However, if you cut yourself off from the noise of your everyday life, turn off your cellphone, disconnect from the Internet and let your senses wander, you will find yourself in awe. Rolling yellow fields against the blue sky, whirling patterns of cut hay and huge expanses of sand dune-like hills are all a feast for the eyes. The Palouse is an agricultural region in southeastern Washington, which produces mostly wheat and legumes. We couldn’t find the origin of the name “Palouse.” Some sources claim that the name comes from the Palus tribe, only later converted to Pelouse by the French-Canadian fur traders, which means “land with short thick grass.” Later the name was changed to the current Palouse……..

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Vancouver in B&W | Olaf Sztaba

Last weekend we left home at 4:30 AM to capture Vancouver at its best. The hourly weather forecast was right and we encountered very contrasty weather conditions with stunningly rich skies and beautiful light. All we had to worry about was composition. It is something we spend a lot of time working on in the field. This is especially challenging in an urban environment when you have so many elements competing for the spot inside your frame. Pre-visualization, positioning of the camera and a rigorous elimination process are essential. In this post we would like to share with you B&W images shot with the Fuji X-T1 coupled with XF 14mm F2.8 & 56mm F1.2 lenses. We also worked with our Fuji X100S……

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In the Footsteps of Gold Prospectors with the Fuji X-T1 and X100S |
Olaf Sztaba

When we read about British Columbia’s Bridge River Valley and its rich history we knew it was going to be our next photo escapade. Last weekend we packed our gear: Fuji X-T1, Fuji X100S, 14mm F2.8, 56mm F1.2, some spare batteries, detailed maps of the region and warm clothing. We made sure we had a spare tire and at 3:00 AM we left Vancouver for a great photo adventure. First, we headed north on the Sea-to-Sky highway, past Whistler and toward Pemberton. We have visited this beautiful and photogenic town on many occasions but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to capture some images as the sun rose. From Pemberton we drove east on Highway 99 toward Lillooet. It may surprise you but in 1860, it was the second largest North American centre west of Chicago after San Francisco, and the main hub of the Cariboo Gold Rush. In fact, the St’at’imc people have lived here for more than 8000 years. Despite the brief stop, we were able to capture a few images, including the historic train station (rebuilt recently)…..

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Sharpening – Monster Under the Bed – Debunked | Olaf Sztaba

Please keep in mind that in the artistic chain of creating a great image, a processing technique is only secondary to your creativity and your emotional connection with the subject. You should spend most of your time in the field concentrating on composition and light. Only when you master this part, can you complement your image with subtle processing techniques. The simpler and faster the method, the more time you will have to create great photographs. Don’t fall into a hole of never-ending alterations. Get the simplest processing software you can get. Playing for hours with your imagery in Photoshop won’t make you a better photographer; in fact, quite the opposite.……

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