The Mission District – a visual feast of mural art

While researching our recent photography trip to San Francisco and area, we put the Mission District high on our list of things to do. Some Internet guides characterize this area as dangerous to visit, citing frequent shootings and robberies. We’re glad we didn’t listen.

Named for Mission Dolores, founded in 1776, the Mission District is San Francisco’s oldest neighbourhood. The main attractions today are walls and fences decorated with murals, which were initiated by the Chicano Art Mural Movement of the 1970s and inspired by the traditional Mexican paintings made famous by Diego Rivera.

Indeed, while walking around this vibrant neighbourhood we experienced a visual feast of mural art such as we have never experienced before. Almost every street and alley offers stunning pieces of street art.

We captured some of the murals with our Fuji X100s and Fuji X-Pro1. Here are a few images.



















We have downloaded the latest version of Irridient Developer 2.3 and we highly recommend this program for your X-Trans files treatment. This is the only program that does true justice to the Fuji superb X-Trans technology.


© Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

California Dreaming with the X-series cameras

What a trip it was! Almost 10 days, 5,500 kilometres, three ghost towns, the Oregon Coast, San Francisco, Yosemite and lots in-between.

Kasia and I had planned this trip for a long time. Some places we had visited before (Shaniko, Oregon Coast), while others (Bodie, Yosemite) were new for us. As usual with such a wide photographic endeavour we tried to plan this trip around light – photographing in the mornings and evenings – driving during the day and at night.

Of course, we didn’t have much control over the quality of the light we would encounter but this time we were extremely fortunate in this regard. First on our list was Shaniko – one of our favourite ghost towns in Oregon. We’ve visited this tiny intriguing place before but all we got was blue sky and strong summer light. Not this time! As we approached Shaniko from the north we saw a big storm building up in the east and with a bit of good luck we encountered fantastic light.

Just before Shaniko, Kasia noticed an abandoned farm in the distance; she insisted we make a turn into a rural road to get to it. She was right – it was a stunning sight.


Once again, it paid off to have our eyes open even if it involved changing some plans. Once you see a great opportunity – take it! In fact, our most memorable images often come from unplanned stops. The best example is this abandoned church that we noticed just before Shaniko.


When we arrived in Shaniko, stormy, dark skies provided a brilliant contrasting background and dream-like light. Here are just two examples.



Then we headed to a little known ghost town, Antelope, when we captured the following images.



While leaving Antelope the setting sun hit stormy skies and created a spectacular light show, so we stopped the car on the side of the road and started taking photos. With our emergency lights on, we drew the attention of a passing policeman. Fortunately, he appreciated the opportunity this unusual light offered.


On the way to the Oregon Coast we stopped at Smith Rock Park.



The Oregon Coast wasn’t as cooperative as we had hoped but we still managed to capture some shots.




Then, at our destination, San Francisco, we visited the stunning Mission district with all the street artwork on display. The Mission district was the hippie hangout in North America in the 70s.




From San Francisco we drove through dense smoke from the Yosemite fires on Highway 108 to a ghost town – Bodie.




Overall, we were able to capture great images. We’re still going through the material we have and we’ll be sharing the images from the trip in our next posts.

On a technical note, all images were captured with the Fuji X-Pro1 with 14mm F2.8 lens and Fuji X100s. We continue to work with Capture One, Lightroom and most recently Iridient Developer (ID) software. The ID continues to amaze us with the superb details it extracts from the X-Trans Sensor. We think we have spent enough time with this new software to share our thoughts in an upcoming review. Stay tuned.

 © Olaf & Kasia Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.