Industrial Landscapes – Part I

Industrial Landscapes – Part I

When you specialize in one genre of photography it is easy to get comfortable, box yourself in and become lazy about seeing. Contentment and self-assurance are one of the greatest enemies of a creative photographer.

It is especially important for those who specialize in travel and landscape photography. Too often we see the same visuals, themes, places or even exactly the same compositions. An antidote to this frame of mind is to try new things even though they may pose a challenge or cause discomfort.

Propelled by this aggressive attitude we decided to explore a different type of landscape – one that would not naturally lure the photographer but might provide a great visual reward.

I found working with industrial landscapes a difficult but fascinating challenge. I started by scoping out the visuals and finding the right lighting. I’ve found it may take weeks of exploration before settling on a location suitable for this type of work. Then, the lighting conditions must match the mood you want to convey. Finally, and most importantly, you must frame the shot with the utmost care.

The process of eliminating elements from the frame was especially enjoyable. You evaluate every element of the frame in terms of the whole composition. Does it add anything or distract from the goal? Should it be eliminated or just placed somewhere else? You need to answer a series of questions before all the elements fit the puzzle and before you press the shutter button.

Although such a deliberate and calculated effort doesn’t always guarantee a great photograph, it certainly leaves the photographer feeling fulfilled and more visually aware, which eventually leads to great imagery. 

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next time…

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All images were captured with the X100T, Fuji X-T1 paired with the XF 50-140mm F2.8 and XF 14mm F2.8. In our previous post we applied the Classic Chrome film simulation to our winter imagery and we really liked the results. This emulsion works even better with this series.   

 

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

 

The Great Catch

The Great Catch

A few days ago on a particularly stormy day I decided to grab my camera and drive to Belcarra Regional Park. You know my penchant for cloudy skies. As soon as I arrived it started pouring with rain so I sheltered under a tree and started observing. There was a family on the jetty crab fishing. Nothing unusual you might say but the fact that they continued fishing in the pouring rain intrigued me. The woman was holding two colourful umbrellas against the dark skies, which made a powerful impact.

My mind started to wander. Are they doing it for fun? Or maybe they are poor emigrants looking to supplement their income? Have they caught anything today? As I was thinking, the rain stopped and I decided to explore.

I walked around the dock and tried to find some answers. Overwhelmed by the fascinating visuals, I started composing and taking photos. Given that I was working with the wide-angle lens I knew I had to get very, very close and I had to be very careful with my composition. They didn’t take any notice of me. I tried different angles and perspectives. This simple scene offered such visual richness – drama, colour, characters, shapes, tension and much more. I kept experimenting, changing angles and eliminating elements from my frame. It was one of those moments that grabbed all your senses and wouldn’t let go. A truly immersive experience!

Before I downloaded the images to my computer I knew I had got something special. No, it wasn’t just the physical images I had captured but the experience of taking them was so rich that I knew it was a special sequence. I don’t know all the answers about this family but maybe it is your turn to imagine and wonder. What do you see?

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All images were taken with the Fuji X-T1 & XF 14mm F2.8, processed in LR6. The Classic Chrome film simulation works so well here.

 

 

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

X100T goes to jail

X100T goes to jail

While choosing locations for our photo escapades, we usually prefer less-travelled roads. However, some places offer such visual temptation that skipping them would cause us sleepless nights.

Therefore, during our last photo trip of 2014, we couldn’t resist visiting the famous Alcatraz Island. We knew that we had to take the first sailing of the day to avoid the crowds and get the best possible light (although night tours would be even better).

Each time Kasia and I approach such a popular location, our objective is to capture the place in “our own way,” avoiding clichéd shoots. After all, we photographers should always try to contribute something new and personal to an already huge body of work.

We found that the best way to get creative is to limit your gear to a minimum. One camera and one lens is the best solution. We went for the Fuji X100T and X-T1 with the XF 14mm F2.8 lens. If I were alone, I would probably go with the X100T only.

In a compact location with such rich visuals, we found that composition, light and creativity are the key components of an interesting image. I often see photographers standing in one spot and shooting images like a madman with the proviso that “I am sure I will get something.” DON’T DO IT. It is the wrong way to approach photography. You will get a lot of junk and a little bit of mediocre imagery.

A good photograph requires a lot of mental and physical effort. The way we work is that we always look for composition and light first, without even touching the camera. Then when I visualize something interesting, I usually look into the viewfinder (still no pressing of shutter buttons) and examine a scene for its potential. If I like what I see, I start composing, which usually means changing my position in relation to a scene. I try to go as high or low as I can and walk around the scene. In most cases, I just walk away without taking a photograph. It just doesn’t work. However, if I find a great composition (more about this in later posts) and match it with interesting light, only then do I press the shutter button.    

We had only about three hours to walk around and try to create imagery that would be worth keeping. Given the dark nature of the place we thought to shoot in B&W and the latest film simulation from Fuji – Classic Chrome.

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