One Woman’s Incredible Journey to Africa (photo essays with Fuji X-E1)

Very often I find women’s approach to photography much better than men’s. Men view cameras as toys. We cherish cameras; we talk about them and even argue about them. Unfortunately this technical approach often keeps us away from what is really important in photography.

Immediately after my wife, Kasia, took our Fuji X100 into her hands, I knew this camera was special. She never reached so eagerly for our Nikon or Canon gear unless she really had to. She disliked everything about those cameras. They were heavy, complicated and uninspiring.

This time was different. She picked up the X100 and never wanted to let it go. She had her three favourable dials at her disposal. She didn’t worry about the sensor or lens rating. Kasia didn’t care about RAW conversion or all the other nuances – she went straight to what she does best – painting with light. She viewed this camera as just a tool to realize her vision.

When Kasia decided to travel to Senegal, her choice was Fuji X-E1 with the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM IS zoom. It had all the key elements of the X100 plus zoom, which covers her usual focal length. She took the camera, played with the controls and she was ready to go. Kasia saw the camera as a way to transfix the moment and capture her travel experiences.

It wasn’t the usual touristy trip. She went to raw Africa with a group of women with whom she had worked to help women in Senegal over the last few years. Kasia documented the beauty of this continent along with its struggles. She saw human suffering but also tremendous and authentic joy and hospitality. And she captured all her experiences on camera.

I was privileged to help my wife to organize her photographic work and after viewing it numerous times, I have to tell you what an incredible body of work it is. This type of imagery requires total dedication to the place and subject. Kasia really cares about the people and places she photographs and you can see it!  

In the next few blog entries, Kasia will be publishing her account of this trip and her experiences of shooting with the Fuji. Here is a photo teaser of what’s to come. Stay tuned.

All images taken with Fuji X-E1 with the XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM IS zoom and B&W UV filter. Processed in Capture Pro 7 and Lightroom 4.
















© Kasia Sztaba Photography, All rights reserved.

47 thoughts on “One Woman’s Incredible Journey to Africa (photo essays with Fuji X-E1)

  1. no kind words from me = just how it is = biggest problem for Africa pictures is dynamic range = no problem in these pin sharp photos = my go to is the XS1 = the jpegs are great = how is your straight out photos = last word = like the portraits = just so


  2. Hello Kasia,

    I just found your beautiful photographs from Senegal!
    They’re gorgeous, congratulations!

    I had the chance to visit Senegal with an association which I belong to. This association has a partnership with a collège in Thies, in coherence with the Unesco associated schools project.

    Maybe you’re interested to see some of my photos from Senegal, I would be honored!

    Best regards


  3. As a professional photographer that has lived and worked in Senegal for years, I immediately notice the distance the photographer has when the subject is a child vs an adult. There is a fear of getting closer. And that is unfortunate. Senegal is one of the most relaxed Muslim countries you will ever find. And Goree Island is a bit of a tourist trap but a necessary visit. For me it looks too clean and painted, hiding the centuries of slave trading. I believe the girl in the class with the orange head wrap is part of a fabric sewing cooperative. If so, I filmed her for Plan, UK in 2007. As this is a blog about Fuji I will add that the camera delivers fine results although the colors in Senegal make any camera shine. There are some good files here but I would advise anyone doing this kind of work to break the distance barriers and get closer to the people, try out your high school French, buy them a tea and just talk with the camera on the table. Then, when you sense their relaxed state, make a few frames and remind them of how special they are to you. After enough years living is Addis, Dakar, Joberg, Accra, Lagos and Chinguetti, African countries become less exotic and more familiar – more human. Just different. Cheers.

    1. Martin,

      Thank your for visiting our blog.

      You see, I went to Senegal on a humanitarian trip; therefore, photography was not my main objective. The beauty of that was that I did not have to ask people to open up to me, they naturally did. They invited us to their villages, homes, places of work and schools. They showed us how they live, learn and work. We ate, laughed, danced and even cried with them. I have never felt more welcomed anywhere else. I was able to capture many of those moments on camera but some of them are personal in nature – not suitable for the blog.

      The woman in the orange dress is actually a teacher at one of the schools we visited.

      I agree with you regarding Goree Island. Walking through its colourful streets one can easily forget the dark history of the place.


  4. Incredible images and the sharpness of the Fuji system is equally incredible. Do you shoot raw, or what “film” setting do you have your X-E1 set on?

    1. Steve,

      Thank you for visiting.
      Most of the time (about 70%) we shoot RAW and then process the files in Capture One 7 and Lightroom 4. However, jpegs are really incredible – the best we have ever seen from any camera maker.
      Jpeg Settings:
      for indoor: Provia (STD), sharpness +1, colour +1,
      for outdoor: Astia (S) sharpness +1, colour +1.

      Hope it helps.


      1. Thanks so much. I am off to Venice and northern Italy in three weeks with my new E-X1. I’ll do some testing with those settings around my home in the Black Hills of South Dakota before I take off.

  5. You are right when you say that your wife paints with light. Such beautiful images! We are planning on buying an xPro-1 when it comes down in price, or if we find one second-hand. Right now, it would be too large a chunk out of wallet. 🙂

  6. Kasia,
    I was a classroom teacher in California for 35 years!
    Your photos (and particularly the photo of the boy with the slate board)
    brought back many memories!
    Yes, we have many layers of technology in our schools in America, but I remember
    the joy of a green slate board in my student’s hands…
    and a love of learning that, today, one has to travel to places like Africa to find!

    1. Jerry, thank you for your comment. You are right, despite the poverty and difficult conditions, I could see a real love and joy of learning while visiting the school in Mbour.


    1. The photos were processed in Capture One 7 and Lightroom 4, saturation 15 (C1), no saturation in Lightroom, only some minor contrast adjustments.


  7. Kaisa, these photos, particularly of the young lady behind the desk and the beauty in the eyes of the children are absolutely, and I know I’m repeating other writers’ words, stunning. I do hope I get to see the rest of your work. If ever there is a book, please let me know,

    1. Thank you, Andy. I was moved by the presence of the woman behind the desk. She is one of the teachers at the school for young girls in Joel.


  8. This is photography at its highest calling and it’s highest execution. Don’t know who you are but you are fabulous.

  9. Kasia….these pictures are truly beautiful! I am honoured to have been with you during some of these moments that you have captured so amazingly well….life as it was in Africa, in March 2013. Unforgettable, just like you. Thank you my friend.

    1. Madeleine,

      You know that without you this trip would not be possible. Thank you for giving me this opportunity and all your support. I have been inspired by you since the day I met you.


  10. Absolutely stunning content, Kasia! Each one tells a story on its own. As someone who is making his first entry into the Fuji X-System (waiting on an X100S) after three decades+ of SLR/DSLR, I am inspired by your work!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Thank you very much for your comment. I was lucky to be able to visit those amazing places and meet many inspiring people. I will do my best to share the experience.


  11. “– she went straight to what she does best – painting with light ”

    And a beautiful set of photos to prove it.

    I find that the Fuji’s get out of the way and allow the interaction between scene, photographer’s creativity, and camera to be fluid.

    I’m looking forward to the rest of this story.

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