Welcome to Classic Chrome

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. Here they are:

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Also, watch this space for a full review of the XF 50-140 F2.8 OIS WR, the Fuji X-100T and more Classic Chrome images – this time straight from the camera.

 

2014 © Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Photo Ramblings

It is November and in Vancouver it usually means short days and lots of rain. It’s not that a little bit of water stops us from taking photos, in fact quite the opposite! We are working on several projects, which we will share with you as they take shape.

We are planning a ten-day trip down the Oregon Coast to San Francisco, California, Death Valley and several small towns in Nevada. As usual we will be travelling with our Fuji X-T1, X100S (maybe X100T), XF 56mm F1.2 and XF 14mm F2.8 lenses. We are hoping to get our hands on a new XF 50-140 F2.8 OIS WR lens but it might turn up too late for this particular trip.

Brian of Iridient Digital just released the 3.0 beta version of its popular Iridient Developer software (you can get it here). For the last few years Iridient Developer has offered the best demosaic solution for Fuji X-Trans RAW files. We have recommended this program in the past and the new version is even better. We really like the new “Vibrance” and “Fill Light” adjustments. There are many new features and you should try this program if you are going after the best detail.

Recently, one of our readers pointed to an article by Peter Bridgwood about Lightroom sharpening settings for X-Trans files. His findings are very similar to ours and indeed a generous use of the Details slider in LR5 works very well with the X-Trans files.

Having said that, I noticed that many, especially new photographers, spend way too much time and effort on technical issues, forgetting what photography is all about. Don’t dwell too much on technicalities but work hard on improving your ways of seeing. That’s what we always strive for.

It was no different when we recently spent one morning in White Rock, British Columbia. Here are our photos taken with the Fuji X-T1 and X100S.

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2014 © Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

The Barn – Revisited

All shot with the Fuji X-T1, XF 14mm F2.8, XF 56mm F1.2 & X100S.

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Next time we will go to White Rock, British Columbia.

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2014 © Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

 

Travelling Through the Heart of Spain

Sometimes we are so caught up in the technical side of photography that we forget that vision and passion are prime ingredients of image creation. My friend, Tom Kampioni, certainly subscribes to these principles. While his main genre is writing and film making, Tom often returns from his frequent travels with impressive imagery. He has never been a “gear guy” and that is his greatest strength. He is free of the “which lens or which camera dilemma” which cripples so many photographers. He connects with his surroundings and, most importantly, the people he encounters on his travels. He works with any photographic tool available at his disposal and this freedom transcends in his photos.

I am delighted to present some of the images from his recent trip to Spain. Even though they were not shot with the Fuji X-series cameras, we decided to share them with you. Let’s forget about cameras, lenses and processing and just enjoy the vistas. Tom wrote a few words about his experience.      

Travelling through the hills of Castilla-La Mancha and Andalusia was the conclusion to my work on an independent movie called “My Don Quixote.” I wanted to visit the places that inspired Miguel de Cervantes in 1605 to write his first world best seller: “Don Quixote.”

Spain has changed since then. There are fewer knights and squires travelling through the hills of La Mancha but it is still a very beautiful and mystical country. I was travelling with my wife and nine-month-old daughter through the empty roads of Castilla-La Mancha and Andalusia. We drove from Madrid to Malaga via Toledo, Consuegra, Ubeza, Granada, Cordoba and Ronda. I planned my trip months before we went to Spain, knowing that once I got there I would have no control over anything. Family goes first, photography whenever there is time and a spare hand to press the shutter button without dropping a baby. September is a good month for photography in Spain since it is mostly cloudy with occasional storms. My wife probably has a different opinion but I really like dark rainy clouds in my pictures.

I don’t think I have a philosophy that I follow when I take my pictures. I don’t even have a camera that I would recommend to anyone. For me it is all about location, light and having good time.”

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Here are some of other favourite images from Tom’s travels.

Poland

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Kazbegi Georgia

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Georgia

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Island

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Talin, Estonia

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Oslo, Norway

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Toledo, Spain

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Tbilisi, Georgia

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Madrid, Spain

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Stockholm, Sweden

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Chicago, USA

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Next time, we will return to our own material, shot with the Fuji X-T1 and X100S. We have downloaded the latest beta version of Iridient Developer and we really like what we see. Stay tuned.

 

2014 © Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

 

STOP. BREATHE. START AGAIN.

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You are a photographer. You have the best gear you can afford. You have a hard drive full of great imagery. You post your photos on 500px, Flickr and God only knows where else. Your friends love your work. You and your photography are running at 100 miles per hour. You’ve done it!

But have you?

Have you ever asked yourself why you are doing this? What’s your goal? Who are you as a person and photographer? Are you a photographer because you are addicted to your expensive gear? Or maybe you just like sitting in front of a computer? What do you feel when you take an image? Does the image mean anything to you? What did you contribute to this enormous body of work?

Recently I noticed I am out of photographic breath. I picked up my camera, took another pretty photo, came home and felt nothing as if my photography train had hit the wall. It’s not that it hasn’t happened in the past.

STOP. BREATHE. START AGAIN.

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First, you become detached from your photography. You run after easy images, the ones that top the popular 500px ranking. It’s almost like eating junk food. You have an urge to push the button and a rushing feeling but as soon as you swallow the last bite, the pleasure disappears and discomfort sets in. You promise yourself you won’t eat this again. Then, after a while, you give up. After all, it’s fast and easy.

Then you notice you have lost your appetite. You have great scenery in front of you but you don’t reach for your camera. You feel detached and bored. After all, you have a hundreds images like this on your hard drive. You find every excuse not to take a photo. You just don’t want to SEE.

This has just happened to me and I am glad it did.

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For the last few weeks I‘ve hardly taken any photos. My X100S stayed at home. It’s not that I wasn’t thinking about photography. Quite the reverse!

I have spent days and weeks evaluating my photography and my way of seeing. Think of it as internal audit. You look at your work as an outsider but with your own artistic consciousness. Some images you took may be very popular but they no longer light your fire. It’s fine. Accept it.

Your internal storm drags you in many artistic directions – that’s fine too. Let it be. Street photography, fine art photography, landscape, and people – everything should be on the plate. STOP. BREATHE. START OVER.

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How do I emerge from such a transformative state? It takes time, sometimes weeks or months. You cannot force it to end.

However, once it ends you will notice significant changes. You will feel, think and see differently. You will pick up your camera and take the best imagery of your life. You become a new photographer and somehow much more engaged. Fast-food imagery no longer impresses you. You are looking for something special. You know that taking a great image requires much more than pressing the shutter button. Most importantly, your new direction has been set – you will start running again until… you hit another wall.  

That’s fine. You know that this is a normal and necessary part of being a photographer. From time to time you must just STOP. BREATHE. START AGAIN.

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If you find this article chaotic and confusing – that’s exactly what it is. The whole process of transformation and renewal is a messy and perplexing experience. And it should be. Zack Arias, an excellent photographer, made a great movie about this aspect of being a photographer. You can find it here.

Next time, I will share some fantastic imagery taken by our good friend Thomas Kampioni who has just returned from a trip to Spain. Are you ready to fight the windmills with Don Quixote?

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2014 © Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Along The Gold Rush Trail

In our previous posts, here and here, we shared many images from our trip along the Gold Rush Trail. This historic route not only has plenty of great places to photograph but also offers a valuable lesson on Canadian history. Here are more images from this trip.

Ashcroft – small but very charming place with many historical buildings.

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 The Historical Hat Creek Ranch located outside Cache Creek

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Quesnel Forks – a remote but very scenic ghost town with many remaining buildings and a historic cemetery.

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Cottonwood House – this historic place includes ten structures, including wooden farm buildings and a portion of the original Cariboo Wagon Road.

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On the road…

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

 

 

2014 © Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Timeless Quality of Film

Despite years of digital photography, many photographers, including us, have moments when they indulge in the timeless quality of film. One of my favourite B&W films were Kodak 400 TMAX or TRI-X 400. Their strong contrast and graininess created a particular visual atmosphere. Fortunately, today’s programs such as NIK Silver Pro allow the photographer to recreate this look (even though it will never be the same as shooting film!).

Here are some recent images taken with the Fuji X100S and processed in NIK Silver Pro.

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Today you can find the best film-like simulations in the Fuji X-series cameras. We are big fans of Provia and Astia film simulations. Fuji has recently introduced a new Classic Chrome film emulsion in its new Fuji X100T. Our first reaction: What a stunner it is! For those who do lots of street/documentary photography and want to stay away from processing pains, it is a real game changer. This slightly de-saturated emulsion is reminiscent of the best colour films and we can’t wait to start using it. For now you can check out some samples here.

In the meantime we have a few more recent images all shot with the Fuji X100S, Fuji X-T1 paired with the 56mm F1.2 lens.

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2014 © Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

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