Along The Cowboy Trail with the X-T1

Despite visiting the Canadian Rockies on several occasions, we have never had a chance to drive south along the Cowboy Trail, highway #22. This time, however, we took this scenic drive and what a photographic treat it was!

Driving south in the foothills, on our right the giant peaks of the Canadian Rockies rise from the plains. Beautiful clumps of trees and rolling grassy hills mixed with farmland create a spectacular sight.

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Make sure you take this route early in the morning, preferably starting at sunrise because the early sun illuminates the peaks in a beautiful series. Kasia and I were pretty lucky since we encountered stormy weather: thunderstorms, rain, sun and rainbows – we had it all – all day long. It allowed us to shoot long into the midday hours.

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As you approach the US border, you reach Waterton Park. While it is less popular and less well known than Banff National Park, it is one of the most spectacular parks we have ever visited. Make sure to cross to the US side, where most of the park’s attractions are located.

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Gear Notes: As usual we were equipped with the Fuji X-T1, the XF 14mm F2.8, XF 56mm F1.2 and Fuji X100S. It was enough to cover 99% of our needs. The X-T1’s viewfinder made a huge difference offering a wide clear view. Even when you are in such an extraordinary location, one should avoid “snapping fever” and focus on composition and light. It is much better to take just a few images, working hard on them before you press the shutter button. This approach pays off later.    

The B&W photos were mildly processed using NIK Silver Pro – our favourite B&W software. The colour photos are mixed: some JPEGs come straight from the camera, some are Lightroom 5 processed. We noticed that the latest variants of Lightroom do a much better job with the X-Trans files, especially files from the X-T1 (not so much with the X100S files). Of course, this is based on our observations, not backed up by any testing. For those who print large and scrutinize their files under the loop, the Iridient Developer (ID) is still the best choice, especially now, when ID offers Fuji film simulations.

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

The Canadian Rockies with the Fuji X-series (Part II)

When we planned to visit the Canadian Rockies, Kasia and I had a pretty good idea of where we wanted to photograph. After all, we used to live in Calgary – the eastern gateway to the majestic Rockies. This city, famous for its “Chinook” winds and the greatest show on earth, the Stampede, welcomed us with a show of its own. We encountered stormy skies, a rainbow and a sky worthy of a sci-fi movie.

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In general when we travel we prefer to cover less well-known places. However, the Canadian Rockies have some gems that are difficult to ignore and Moraine Lake is one of them. We arrived at 4:50 AM at sunrise with the hope of seeing a few clouds but we got sunny skies. The rising sun’s rays as they moved across the peaks were pretty spectacular to watch.

Less known but also beautiful, Hulbert and Peyto Lakes offer their own spectacular vistas.

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We spent a considerable amount of time in Kananaskis Country – not as often visited but one of our favourite parts of the Canadian Rockies. If you take a loop via the #40 and then the Smith Dorrien Trail to Canmore and back to Highway #1, you will be rewarded with stunning scenery. Here are a few images.

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Sometimes the best shots of the Rockies are from a distance. To get this perspective we headed south on Highway #22, along Cowboy Trail. And what fantastic views this road offers! But more about this and gorgeous Waterton Park next time.

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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 Fuji X100S.

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

The Canadian Rockies with the Fuji X-series

The three-week hiatus in our blog postings was not the result of World Cup fever or some R&R. Quite the opposite! We went away for a photo trip to the spectacular Canadian Rockies and we worked hard (waking up at 3:30 AM everyday!) to get you the best imagery possible. We have a lot of material to share with you – including our latest thoughts about gear and processing.

While we go through our work here are some teaser images shot with the Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 14mm F2.8, XF 56mm F1.2 and Fuji X100S. Stay tuned.

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… and two B&Ws

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Watch this space.

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