Westminster Abbey with the Fuji X100S & X-Pro1

In our last blog entry, “Photography is easy. Really?” we wrote about the importance of concentrating on the art of crafting an image. Nowadays it doesn’t come easily because the constant need (and in some cases addiction) to be connected doesn’t allow our minds to calm down and settle on ONE task.

However, there are some places where quietness comes naturally, concentration comes easily and your artistic inner self can show itself without any outside disruptions. For me, Westminster Abbey in Mission, BC is one such place.

I find that a stunning location and beautiful grounds always calm me down. They allow me to put aside all the noise and just wander around with my camera. There’s no pressure, no purpose, no distractions! I have visited this place many times and each time I encountered stunning views and different conditions which created a magnificent mood.

All images were shot with the Fuji X100S and Fuji X-Pro1 with XF 14mm F2.8 and XF 60mm F2.4. Processed in Iridient Developer and NIK Silver Pro.

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… and truly yours at work

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2014 © Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

 

 

Summary of 2013 and Top 10 images of the year

While heading to the ballroom on New Year’s Eve, we photographers had a lot of reasons to celebrate: 2013 was a year when many people rediscovered their passion for photography. After years of megapixel wars and an SLR monopoly, last year brought us new tools, which helped to redirect our senses toward image creation and away from technical mumbo-jumbo.

Of course, as many of you know, Kasia and I have been shooting exclusively with the Fuji X-series cameras. Since our first interaction with the game-changing X100, to the later-released Fuji X-Pro1, Fuji X-E1 and Fuji X100S, our way of seeing the world has found its camera match. While looking through our 2013 images we couldn’t have been more pleased. If there are any flaws or imperfections they could all be ascribed to our failure in the process of crafting an image rather than to any gear limitations.

We went through our images and decided to pick our favourites. Here are my top 10 personal favourites:

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Lawless House, Fuji X100S, ISO 200, 1/240 sec, F5.6

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Port Moody Pier, Fuji X-Pro1, XF 18mm F2, ISO 200, 1/40 sec, f/5.6

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Man and Dogs, Fuji X100S, ISO 200, 1/900 sec, f/6.4

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Shaniko Fire Truck, Fuji X-Pro1, XF 14mm F2.8, ISO 200, 1/350 sec, f/10

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Hidden Stairways, Fuji X-Pro1, XF 14mm F2.8, ISO 200, 8.0 sec, f/8

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The Shadow, Fuji X100S, ISO 200, 1/150 sec, f/5

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Great Flood, Fuji X-Pro1, ISO 200, 1/140 sec, f/4

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Barn, Fuji X100S, ISO 200, 1/500 sec, f/7.1

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Walk In The Park, Fuji X-Pro1, XF 35mm F1.4, ISO 200, 1.5 sec, f/8

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Old Mill, Fuji X-Pro1, XF 14mm F2.8, ISO 200, 1/240 sec, f/5.6

 

 

Kasia’s top 10 favourites:

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Graceful, Fuji X-E1, XF 18-55, ISO 4000, 1/125 sec, f/4

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Woman, Fuji X-E1, XF 18-55, ISO 200, 1/110 sec, f/4

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Chilling, Fuji X-E1, XF 18-55, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, f/8

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Serenity, Fuji X-E1, XF 18-55, ISO 200, 1/350 sec, f/13

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Magnificent, X-E1, XF 18-55, ISO 500, 1/125 sec, f/4

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Vulnerable, X-E1, XF 18-55, ISO 200, 1/400 sec, f/8

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Friends, X-E1, XF 18-55, ISO 320, 1/125 sec, f/3.2

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Abandoned Farm, X100S, 23 mm, ISO 200, 1/850 sec, f/9

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The Ghost Town, X100S, 23 mm, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, f/2

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Shack, X-Pro1, 14 mm, ISO 200, 1/350 sec, f/9

There are many more images that we cherish but somehow these ones struck a chord with us. The greatest lesson we learnt this year was to be prepared, as the best images appear unexpectedly. Therefore, always having a camera with you is the most important step to capture the life of seeing. It doesn’t mean you need to take lots of photographs. Just carry a camera everywhere and teach your senses to be vigilant. This will unleash your creativity and train your eye to catch the unexpected (even if you don’t take a photograph).

For this reason, among many others, Kasia and I decided to name the Fuji X100S our camera of the year. It doesn’t matter whether we are going to the grocery store or a museum, the Fuji X100S is always with us. Its silence, size and lightness mean you are unnoticed and this is something you cannot underestimate. I am not even going to touch on the image quality and lens issues – enough has been said about it.

Our favourite lens of 2013? It must be the XF 14mm F2.8. It’s not only a truly exceptional glass but it covers a focal length that matches our way of seeing (along with the 35mm).

The biggest surprise of 2013? I think I would be the Iridient Developer software. Given early issues with the X-Trans sensor RAW files conversions, this previously unknown company (at least to us), came up with a demosaic formula, which put to shame all other software solutions available.

Despite that, in 2013 we started shooting more and more JPEGs, cutting our processing time and turning our attention to more important pillars of image creation. We will share more of our findings and settings in our upcoming posts.

Websites? It must be Patrick’s Fujirumors and Thomas’ Scoop it. Both provided us with numerous links and rumours about the world of photography.

Plans for 2014? Plenty!

We are already planning several photo trips, including extensive shooting with an upcoming XF 56mm F1.2 lens we have long been waiting for. We are also working on several projects and workshops. We will share with you more details in the upcoming weeks and months. There are many more plans but let us keep some secrets. After all, this is the art of seeing and surprise. Stay tuned.

Final thought. Since we started shooting with the Fuji X100, we have become fans of the X-series system. The philosophy that accompanies the creation of this system, along with the quality and feel of the cameras and superb rendering of the lenses won us over. Despite this well-deserved affection for the X-series, we want to remain 100% independent; therefore, you won’t find any adds on our blog. We want to keep our blog clean, on-topic and free from any outside influence. Image creation and the art of seeing is the only theme of this blog, period.

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