Snow and R-A-I-N

Snow and R-A-I-N

As I am preparing for the upcoming workshop “Project R-A-I-N: Vancouver”  I would like to share with you some imagery taken during challenging weather conditions. I think this is the first time ever when all workshop participants are actually looking forward to R-A-I-N and/or S-N-O-W! 🙂




2018 © OLI Publishing Inc. All rights reserved


Vancouver’s Winter Wonderland (Part 1)


For those of you who took my last blog post literarily – unfortunately I do not drive an Aston Martin! Keep in mind I am a photographer.

As many of you know, for the last year I have been working on a project called R-A-I-N. The objective of this endeavour was to document visuals of the city during the rainy season, which can last for months. I never thought that my R-A-I-N project would turn into S-N-O-W!

Although there is plenty of snow in areas surrounding Vancouver, the city itself very rarely goes white and even if it does snow, it turns into rain in a few hours. Therefore, after reading the forecast for heavy snow I decided to drive downtown and hope for some white magic to happen.

I chose to take with me the X-Pro2 and XF 50-140mm F2.8, both weather sealed. Usually when I go shooting I go with one camera and one lens and it is almost always one of my primes. This time I decided to go heavy but strong on optics.

I spent a few hours shooting the streets of Vancouver during a very heavy snowfall. Visuals for the city, which rarely sees winter, were truly stunning. Here is the first part of the series “Winter in Vancouver” – this time in black and white (ACROS film simulation with some minor adjustments).


















I met this couple from South America during a walk in Vancouver’s Gastown. They were visiting Vancouver for the first time and asked me to take their photo with their cell-phone near the famous Steam Clock. After taking a few images for them I said that my repayment is a few minutes of modelling for me. They laughed and agreed. I often like to shoot through the Steam Clock glass at people on the other side. I positioned them on the other side and got this image (see below).


next time…





2016 © Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

The Majestic Rockies – Connecting with the Landscape (Part 2)

The Majestic Rockies – Connecting with the Landscape (Part 2)

There is no doubt that the Canadian Rockies are one of the most stunning landscapes in the world. Blue lakes, lush green forests and gigantic mountain peaks invite travellers in the summer months to enjoy an unlimited number of activities. Indeed, it is a joyful and laissez-faire relationship.  

In winter, however, the true character of the mountains is revealed. Temperatures remain well below zero, often reaching extremes. The snow cover simplifies the scenery, exposing only the essential lines. White powder also guards the access to many locations and roads become a hazard for those who are unprepared. The toughness of this land is manifest. It is no longer a carefree wilderness. This is exactly what we found appealing, beautiful and even strangely desirable.

Photographing the Canadian Rockies poses a challenge of its own. How do you go beyond the usual postcard “beautiful”? How do you show a landscape of such grandeur, avoiding the common snow-peaked, sun-bathed scenery? How do you look into your viewfinder and draw with light your own particular lines? It’s nearly impossible! But it is worth trying. Always.












Next time…  


Captured with the X100T, Fuji X-T1, the XF 50-140mm F2.8 and XF 14mm F2.8.



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


The Majestic Rockies – Connecting with the Landscape (Part 1)

The Majestic Rockies – Connecting with the Landscape (Part 1)

There is no place like it. Kasia and I first drove through the Canadian Rockies twenty years ago. I will never forget the impact of these incredible mountain ranges. The sheer size, beauty and toughness of this land gained my respect, absorbed all my senses and provoked a deeply spiritual experience in my inner being.

Almost every year since then, Kasia and I have made a pilgrimage to this land of giants. But there is more.

We were living in two Canadian cities, Vancouver and Calgary, and the trip through the Rockies became a rite of passage for our family. It has become a road of joy, sorrow and redemption. This road led me to Calgary where I nearly lost my life. Then I travelled through the mountains to a lengthy recovery process here in Vancouver. Through all these years and experiences, Kasia and I connected with this landscape as with no other.      

We have been in the Rockies in every season of the year. Most people visit the area in summer when it is warm, travel is easy and the lakes turn blue. Indeed, a great choice. However, for me the true beauty of the mountains reveals itself in winter. Snow simplifies the vista, underlines the contours and reveals the mountains’ splendour. Cold protects this beauty from invaders and the slanted winter light accentuates the snowscape.

We visited most of our favourite locations and captured them with the X100T, Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 50-140mm F2.8 and XF 14mm F2.8. In the next few posts we will be sharing with you our personal experiences, stories and imagery. What a great theme to begin the New Year. Stay tuned.

Here are a few samples of what’s to come. 






We met an incredible Japanese man travelling the Canadian Rockies on foot.


…and a young man from Russia practicing hockey at Lake Louise.


We had such an amazing time at Emerald Lake. 



Stay tuned for much more… 


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


Winter Imagery with the XF 50-140mm F2.8

Winter Imagery with the XF 50-140mm F2.8

The first time we worked with the XF 50-140mm F2.8 lens we were impressed with its optics, superb image stabilization and build/weather sealing, but disappointed by its size and weight. As a result, we decided not to add this lens to our bag.

After a few weeks we had another an opportunity, this time while travelling to Death Valley, California. Upon returning from this trip we were dazzled by this lens’ rendering, sharpness and, most importantly, ability to cushion camera shake (we were mostly shooting from the hand).

Then we had a photo session booked with an attractive couple and decided to do it exclusively with the XF 50-140mm F2.8 lens. We had such a good time and great results – all shooting by hand – that this time we decided to purchase this lens as our only telephoto zoom.

Due to its size and weight this lens doesn’t go with us everywhere. It is a specialized lens for a particular purpose.

We like to use it for engagement sessions and some commercial jobs as long as there is enough light (at night we switch to the XF 56mm F1.2). We will share some engagement and wedding photos shot with this lens in our upcoming posts.

Another factor is that Kasia and I do a lot of travelling by car so weight doesn’t really matter. In this way we can explore the less travelled vistas of North America where you are often forced to photograph from the road, for example the Palouse (it is not a good idea to enter private property). The XF 50-140mm F2.8 lens gives us a bit more flexibility to compose in such a situation.

Having said that, we wouldn’t haul this lens on a trip if we had to carry it a lot, for example walking around cities.

Today, we would like to share with you some imagery shot this weekend near Pemberton, British Columbia. We headed there early in the morning to capture the cold and frosty countryside. We cannot wait for full-fledged winter, which simplifies the landscape and allows plain and lucid visuals to emerge. Stay tuned.














All images were captured with the Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 50-140mm F2.8 and Fuji X100S. While the Classic Chrome film simulation is being viewed as a documentary-reportage domain, we sometimes apply this emulsion to our landscape and travel photographs (with some tweaks). We love the results.


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

Photo Eruption at Mt. Baker

How about photographing a place that is an active volcano and one of the snowiest places on the planet?

In 1792 the British explorer, George Vancouver, reached the Pacific Northwest Coast and made a journal entry citing the observation of Mt. Baker by his third lieutenant Joseph Baker:

About this time a very high conspicuous craggy mountain … presented itself, towering above the clouds: as low down as they allowed it to be visible it was covered with snow; and south of it, was a long ridge of very rugged snowy mountains, much less elevated, which seemed to stretch to a considerable distance … the high distant land formed, as already observed, like detached islands, amongst which the lofty mountain, discovered in the afternoon by the third lieutenant, and in compliment to him called by me Mount Baker…”

Each time we drive up the winding road at Mount Baker it is a stunning adventure. We have hiked numerous routes in this park but we haven’t taken many photos of this natural landmark. It’s about time.

Here are a few images from our recent escapade. They are all taken with the Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 14mm F2.8 and Fuji X100S.












2014 © Olaf Sztaba Photography. All rights reserved.

Happy New Year From Winter Wonderland

We would like to wish our friends, our readers and ourselves a healthy New Year full of photographic adventures.
May the New Year bring us great light, inspiring visions and stunning imagery. May we take fewer photos but do more photography.
Finally, we hope 2013 will bring simpler and photographer-centred cameras and tools.
Olaf & Kasia Sztaba

Each time I talk to my friends from Europe about snowless winters in Vancouver they cannot believe it. After all, this is wild white cold Canada, which many people (including myself before I moved here) knew from the National Geographic movies and publications.

While the special location makes it rare to experience full-fledged winter in Vancouver (except in the high mountains surrounding Vancouver) just one hour’s drive away you can find a true winter wonderland.

That is exactly what we wanted to capture when we woke up very early last week and drove nearly two hours north of Vancouver. While sometimes we come back from our photography trips with nothing (we don’t process dull images – that’s a waste of time!), this time we encountered perfect light. Snow-covered peaks were blanketed with blue, orange and purple clouds. Each time the rising sun found a gap in the clouds, the whole scene came alive once again in different colours and moods. 

Our tool of choice was the Fuji X-Pro1 with the XF 35mm F1.4 lens. All images were processed in Lightroom 4, sharpening in NIK Sharpener Pro.  

Here are some chosen images.

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© Kasia & Olaf Sztaba Photography.  All Rights Reserved.