The Great Catch

A few days ago on a particularly stormy day I decided to grab my camera and drive to Belcarra Regional Park. You know my penchant for cloudy skies. As soon as I arrived it started pouring with rain so I sheltered under a tree and started observing. There was a family on the jetty crab fishing. Nothing unusual you might say but the fact that they continued fishing in the pouring rain intrigued me. The woman was holding two colourful umbrellas against the dark skies, which made a powerful impact.

My mind started to wander. Are they doing it for fun? Or maybe they are poor emigrants looking to supplement their income? Have they caught anything today? As I was thinking, the rain stopped and I decided to explore.

I walked around the dock and tried to find some answers. Overwhelmed by the fascinating visuals, I started composing and taking photos. Given that I was working with the wide-angle lens I knew I had to get very, very close and I had to be very careful with my composition. They didn’t take any notice of me. I tried different angles and perspectives. This simple scene offered such visual richness – drama, colour, characters, shapes, tension and much more. I kept experimenting, changing angles and eliminating elements from my frame. It was one of those moments that grabbed all your senses and wouldn’t let go. A truly immersive experience!

Before I downloaded the images to my computer I knew I had got something special. No, it wasn’t just the physical images I had captured but the experience of taking them was so rich that I knew it was a special sequence. I don’t know all the answers about this family but maybe it is your turn to imagine and wonder. What do you see?

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All images were taken with the Fuji X-T1 & XF 14mm F2.8, processed in LR6. The Classic Chrome film simulation works so well here.

 

 

2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Fusion Festival with the XF 90mm F2

Fusion Festival is one of the youngest festivals in Canada but it has already received the ‘Best Cultural Event in Canada’ award. The festival is a celebration of music, food and culture from all around the world. What a great venue for photography!

All Images – Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 90mm F2.

I couldn’t resist. Velvia works so well here.

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Provia (STD)

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Classic Chrome

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Fuji Velvia

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2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Olympic National Park in B&W

While our last few posts dealt with the brand new XF 90mm F2 lens and therefore portrait photography, we are now returning to our usual genre – travel, landscape and documentary in B&W. Here is a series of the images taken during our last trip to Olympic National Park, including incredible Rialto Beach.

All images were shot with the X100S and Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 14mm F2.8 and XF 56mm F1.2.

We are now preparing for our upcoming photography trip across five states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. If you know of any less-travelled spots, interesting places or people, please drop us a line. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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… and truly yours

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2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

THE XF 90mm F2 – THE MUST-HAVE COMPANION FOR A PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER

Those of you who are familiar with our approach to photography know that our bag contains the XF 14mm F2.8 lens, XF 35mm F1.4 and XF 56mm F1.2 along with the second camera/lens – the Fuji X100S. This setup not only contains one of the finest XF lenses with but also covers 99% of our needs.

Despite our excellent travelling companions, over the last year or so we have been on assignments to photograph people, which required a different approach. There were occasions when we found we could use a bit more compression or a more detailed perspective in our portraits, which only a longer focal length could provide. To fill this gap we have reached on several occasions for the excellent XF 50-140 F2.8 lens. However, we had two problems with this lens. First, it was way too heavy for our liking. Second, the separation of the subject from the background was not as smooth as we wanted. We knew that there was a place for one more lens in our bag – light but well built, turning out photos that were sharp but with a dreamy look.

Therefore, when Fujifilm announced the XF 90mm F2 lens, it immediately grabbed our attention. No, it wasn’t a “let’s get it now” type of reaction! It was rather “let’s see whether Fuji delivers another exceptional lens or succumbs to the ‘it will sell anyway’ mentality.”

While evaluating this lens we asked ourselves some questions: Would this focal length allow us to convey the personality of the subject differently from the XF 56mm F1.2? Would it complement the XF 56mm F1.2 in any way? Would this lens help to peel away the layer of distance and reservation between our subject and us? Finally, would it meet our stringent technical requirements for sharpness, micro-contrast, creamy bokeh, etc?

Here is what we found out:

  • The XF 90mm F2 offers a more compressed view than the XF 56mm F1.2, allowing for a different look.
  • The 90mm focal length (135 in FF terms) permits us to get out of the way of the subject, so we can observe and shoot from a distance.
  • Like the XF 56mm F1.2, the 90mm allows for creative play with the bokeh.
  • When shooting wide-open, the bokeh is creamy and pleasing to the eye.
  • A precise focus is required while shooting wide-open.
  • Edge transitions are gorgeous and ceaseless, allowing for dreamy look.
  • The micro-contrast is nicely balanced for portraiture work.
  • The sharpness is top notch and on a par with the XF 56mm F1.2 and XF 35mm F1.4.
  • Autofocus works much better with the latest update. We played with a face/eye detection function and found it sometimes takes a bit longer than we would like before it locks. We will write more about this in our upcoming posts.
  • The lens is well balanced on the Fuji X-T1 with the battery pack. It is heavier than the XF 56mm F1.2 but we didn’t feel tired after a few hours of shooting (the XF 50-140 F2.8 was way too heavy for us).
  • The build is excellent and on a par with other XF lenses.
  • With Fujifilm’s film simulations, which are tuned to photographing people (beautiful skin tones), the XF 90mm is a great fit.

In wrapping up, we view the XF 90mm F2 as a companion lens for the XF 56mm F1.2. When photographing children and couples with the XF 56mm F1.2 we often needed a slightly more compressed view – this is where the XF 90mm comes in. This new lens is technically superb but most importantly it allows you to convey your subject in a more intimate and pleasing way.

We are adding the XF90mm F2 to our bag as our fourth lens.

Images – Fuji X-T1, mostly JPEGs – straight from the camera, Astia film simulation.

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2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Macro Photography with the XF 90mm F2 & MCEX-11

Let’s make it clear: macro is not our long suit, neither it is our favourite genre of photography. However, given that we got our hands on the Fujifilm’s Macro Extension Tube, MCEX-11, we decided to match it with the XF 90mm F2 lens and go along with it. After all, we understand that some of you might be interested in this type of imagery.

All the images below were shot with the X-T1, Velvia film simulation, all JPEGs straight from the camera with not a single adjustment. Feel free to click on each photo for a larger view.

We will have a lot of great material to share in the next few weeks, including a full-fledged review of the 90mm F2.

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2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Fujinon XF 90mm F2 – First Take and Taken Aback

Each time we have an encounter with a new Fujinon XF lens, our expectations are high but we hold ourselves back, just in case – don’t want to get too excited. When we got our first Fujinon – the XF 35mm F1.4 – we were really impressed. Then, we added the XF 14mm F2.8 – they really know how to make lenses, we thought! Then the XF 56mm F1.2 arrived and… well, we immediately added it to our bag.

So when the letter carrier knocked on the door with a package from Fuji Canada we thought: It’s going to be a really good lens but given our lofty demands there is no way that this new arrival is in the same class as the XF 56mm F1.2. After all, camera companies eventually misfire and produce a substandard glass – we all know that.

Boy, was I WRONG! After shooting a few pics around the house I looked at the screen and I couldn’t believe it. Then I uploaded a few JPEGs on my computer and practised all the profanities I knew. How am I going to write a review of such a brilliant lens? Given that in our previous write-ups we showed so much affection for the Fujinon glass, this time the Internet is going to go berserk – I will be called Fuji funboy once again!

Then, I went outside and took more shots. This can’t be right! After a few hours of shooting the most difficult things I could think of, I gave up. I couldn’t take it any more. I passed the lens to Kasia and asked her to find a problem with it. It’s not that she hadn’t tried. Quite the opposite! Eventually she came up with: “Shouldn’t the hood be all metal?” We burst out laughing and at this point we knew we were adding this lens to our bag. Come on, bashers, bring it on! The Fuji funboys await you!

All right, enough of this introduction. I guess you’ve got my point. We will present a lot of imagery on the blog over the next few posts – portraits, landscape and documentary – all taken with the XF 90mm F2. Most importantly, we are taking it with us for an exciting cross-border trip over several states and provinces, which will lead us as far east as Winnipeg, Canada – for a VERY special project about a VERY special person! No, it’s not Miriam Toews – you’ll just have to wait and see.

For now, here are a few first shots (Fuji X-T1, mostly JPEGs). They didn’t come cheap – I had to buy ice cream for all these fellows! The haze visible on some of the images is the result of the unprecedented dry spell and 180 wildfires in the province of British Columbia. Stay tuned for much, much more.

Classic Chrome

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Provia (STD) and Astia film simulations

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Click for a larger image.

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2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Congratulations Team USA

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All images are taken with the Fuji X100S and Fuji X-T1 coupled with the XF 56mm F1.2 (our usual documentary setup). Most of them are JPEGs; some are processed in LR6.

 

2015 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

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