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.

Cape Flattery – a place that flatters with its beauty

“…there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding an harbour…” – James Cook, 1778

When we come back from our photography trips and look through our photos, we realize our favourite images often come from unplanned locations. Initially, we hadn’t planned to visit Neah Bay and Cape Flattery – after all they are well off the beaten track – 101 Highway hugs Olympic National Park.

On the first day, after taking photos in the early morning at Hurricane Ridge, we decided to detour to Neah Bay. It was already late (in photographic terms) at around 9:00 AM and the light had already become harsh and unpleasant but we thought at least let’s check out the place and locations. Then next time we visit we would be ready for some serious photography.

However, after we passed Sekiu, dense fog blanketed the road. We couldn’t have been happier! For us, not only is fog a great mood setter but it provides fantastic lighting conditions when it starts dissipating and the sun’s rays cut through it. At this point we knew we had made a great decision.

Closer to Neah Bay, we made a few stops along the road because the coastline views were superb.

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At the entrance to Neah Bay the fog began to disappear. Kasia grabbed the X100S and I reached for the X-T1 paired with the XF 56mm and we kept switching the cameras every few minutes as we saw yet another wonderful shot.

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The fog started to give way to the strong sun.

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Then we decided to drive to Cape Flattery in the hope of finding at least some fog leftovers. When we got there we parked our car and began the short hike. After 20 minutes we encountered a place of stunning beauty with a great atmosphere.

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We are sure the same feeling hit James Cook on March 22, 1778 when he wrote: “…there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding an harbour…On this account I called the point of land to the north of it Cape Flattery.”

Long before James Cook named the cape, from this very vantage point an indigenous people, the Makahs, observed European expeditions searching for the Northwest Passage.

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We stayed at this most northwestern point of the contiguous United States for at least two hours. Despite its now being late morning, the sun still had some problems getting through fog, so we could take photos late into the morning, savouring the spirits of land and sea.

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

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

The show of light and mist at Hurricane Ridge

While planning our photography trips we take into account multiple variables: the distance from the hotel to the shooting location, accessibility, weather, time of the sunrise/sunset, direction of the sun and even the likely number of tourists.  

Before leaving for Olympic National Park we knew that Hurricane Ridge would be one of the locations we wanted to cover. However, this plan created a dilemma for us. While most places on our list are on the coastline, Hurricane Ridge lies in the north-east part of the park. The best solution was to spend the night at Port Angeles, photograph Hurricane Ridge in the morning and then drive west. Since we had arrived at Olympic National Park in the late afternoon, we wanted to photograph Second Beach at sunset first. We knew we would be tired afterwards so we opted to spend the night at the coast in La Push, wake up early and drive to Hurricane Ridge in the morning.

Since the sun rises around 5:20 AM, we had to leave our hotel around 3:30 AM for the one-hour drive. Fortunately, we arrived just in time. We had never been there before, so we had to go with our instincts as to how to position our cameras. We knew that there were many spots along the route up to the top that would cry out for our attention but we didn’t know which one would be our favourite.

While driving up the ridge, there were patches of intense fog, always a good sign. Just as we arrived at the top, the morning light started hitting the mountain peaks and we indulged in stopping to look at the beautiful sight.

As soon as the sun appeared and the fog melted away, we decided to jump in the car and head down, hoping we would encounter some remaining patches of fog. Since the fog was moving quickly we went along with it, driving up and down and taking advantage of every visual spectacle.

Why are we telling you all this? Because so often I see photographers arriving at a location, setting up their tripod and spending the entire time in one place. Yes, there is always the risk of missing changes in light when you move but most of the time taking the risk pays off. If we had stayed at the top all we would have seen were sunny skies but by driving down the ridge, we were able to capture the best images from this trip.

Most images were shot with the X100S and Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 56mm F1.2. Before the sun came up, we used a tripod but as soon as we had enough light and a shutter speed of 1/125 or faster, we started shooting handheld. Our relationship with a tripod has always been thorny – we only use it as a last resort. We are well aware that with such a belligerent attitude we are bringing the wrath of the pixel-peeping community down on our heads. Well, so be it – it’s a small price to pay for some great creative moments.

P.S. While processing some images we used the new LR6 control ‘dehase.’ It works really well but this tool must be used in moderation. Look for more about this in our upcoming posts.        

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Next time…

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Follow us on Twitter @olafphoto

 

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

Olympic National Park with the X-Series

We gaze at the mountains in Olympic National Park every day but do we go to visit them? No, not until now. The park is just across the border but you know how it is – you never visit the places in your own backyard.

Exhausted after three days of waking up at 4 AM, travelling and shooting until 10 PM because of the long summer days, we have come back with rings under our eyes and a lot of great memories and exciting material.

Over the next few posts we will be sharing images from this trip along with some commentary. For now, we would like to share a few – a teaser of sorts.

All images were taken with the Fuji X100S and Fuji X-T1 paired with XF 14mm F2.8 and XF 56mm F1.2, some JPEGs, others processed in LR6.

We started very early at Hurricane Ridge. In fact it was so early that we found no company but fantastic light.

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Fuji X100S, Fuji Velvia

Neah Bay somehow drew us right from the beginning and we are glad we drove there.

Fuji X-T1, XF 56mm, F1.2

Near Neah Bay.

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Fuji X100S, Fuji Velvia

Cape Flattery was one of the highlights of our trip.

Fuji X-T1, XF 14mm, F2.8

Then we decided on the Second Beach at the Quileute Reservation. We had to visit it twice to get the light we wanted.

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Fuji X-T1, XF 14mm, F2.8

We didn’t want to miss the remarkable Rialto Beach at any cost.

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Fuji X-T1, XF 14mm, F2.8 

And here is the image Kasia took near our resort. It immediately became one of my favourites.

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Stay tuned for much, much more.

 

 

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

Photo Summer Bits

We have had a lot on our plate in the last few weeks. We worked on a few commercial assignments, which provided us with a little break from our usual travel/landscape/documentary regimen.

Now our summer and autumn travel calendar is filling up quickly. Next week, we are heading to Olympic National Park. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and provide us with some stormy/cloudy skies. Then, in the following weeks, we plan to photograph the Columbia River Gorge, the Vancouver Island, take a trip to Cuba and in the autumn head to Montana. In between we are aiming at other amazing places but the timing and details are still in the works.

Heading into late 2015 we look forward to a brand new Fuji X-Pro2, which we hope to take with us to Death Valley. Of course, the release date for this highly anticipated camera is still a matter of speculation but let’s hope for the best.

That’s it regarding our plans. As some of you know from time to time Kasia and I take on portrait photography or commercial assignments. Here are a few images from our most recent photo shoot with Dorota and Jedrek. All images are taken with the Fuji X100S (first image) and Fuji X-T1 coupled with the XF 56mm F1.2. Most of them are JPEGs; some are processed in LR5.

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

 

One Out Of The Hat

This blog has argued repeatedly that focusing solely on the technical aspects of photography usually causes more harm than good. After all, emotions, state of mind, vision, light and composition are the most important elements of the image creation process. Gear should only come second. However, we admit that sometimes we experience moments of weakness. Today is such a day.  

There is a good reason for it. Patrick of Fujirumors.com has reported that Fuji is working on a medium format range-finder-style camera! As some of you know we have been longing for such a camera for a very long time. Our position is that the medium format camera market is ready for some disruption.

Fuji did a very good job with the X-series cameras (especially the lenses) and there is very little to gain for most photographers (including us) to move to full frame. However, a medium format camera priced right ($3.500-$5,000 range?????) coupled with some quality lenses (and medium format demands high quality glass!) would definitely cause a stir. The 100S/T would remain the always-with-us camera and a medium format Fuji would do all the rest. The possibility of shooting the Palouse or vistas of the Canadian Rockies with such a camera means we can’t stop smiling.

All right, enough of these sinful thoughts. It is time for some imagery. Here is some material we shot last weekend on the Sea-to-Sky highway – mostly near the Porteau Cove. All taken with our usual setup – the X-T1, XF 14mm F2.8, XF 56mm F1.2 and Fuji X100S.

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

Becoming an Un-Photographer

How badly I wanted to become a photographer! A serious photographer, I should add. First, I needed serious gear and the bigger the camera, the better. Check! Then I bought lenses – lots of them. After all, I had to cover every focal length known to humankind. Check! Then, of course I needed a hefty camera bag to carry it all. Check! Wait a minute – how about a sturdy tripod? Ansell Adams carried his up mountains so it must be necessary. Check!

Then, equipped with kilos of gear, my huge camera bag and equally impressive tripod, I could go out. Now, I could call myself a photographer. Everyone knew how serious I was about photography. Many randomly encountered people were impressed. They asked me about my gear, about my lenses. Many look at me with respect and envy. After all, a guy with such an arsenal on his back must be a photographer. I puffed out my chest, which wasn’t difficult because I had to take weight-lifting classes to carry it all.

But something happened along the way. The more I wanted to be a photographer, the less I was becoming one. The black beret and the dark glasses didn’t help. I gave away my XL T-shirts as my muscles reduced in size.

The next step was to sell all my gear. I bought photography books. No, not technical books but books about seeing, light, composition, landscapes and people. And I got myself a camera – a tiny, inconspicuous one. I started venturing into the world with this little camera on my shoulder. Just one camera and one lens. People stopped paying attention to me. I was obviously just another lost tourist with his ‘point and shoot.’ An amateur. It was strange but I liked it! Some touts offered to be my guide or show me a good hotel but in general I could walk around the city unnoticed, free of gear, lenses, backpacks and tripods, and free of a photographer’s mindset.

Visual stories started to unfold before my eyes. I began talking to people I hadn’t noticed before. Somehow, the light miraculously fell into place. I started seeing more, much more, and not just kittens and cathedrals. Others didn’t see me as a photographer but I started transforming into one. I became an un-photographer.    

Here are a few images from our recent walk around Vancouver, all taken with the Fuji X100S (Classic Chrome).

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

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