Search for the unknown!

In a previous post I wrote about searching for an uncommon perspective. While the different perspective may produce an outstanding image, the choice of a location is always a starting point for me.

How many times have you gone to a popular spot in your city only to find the place crowded with photographers? While there is nothing wrong with adding your perspective to an extensively covered subject, I find the most joy in photographing the least popular destinations. The greatest compliment I could receive is when someone looks at my image and says: “Stunning photo but where did you take it?” Having lived in the Vancouver area for nearly 16 years I am no longer inspired to photograph core tourist attractions. Instead, I hit the rural roads, which very often lead to outstanding visual discoveries.

One of these discoveries was Finn Slough in Richmond, BC. While this hidden place doesn’t exactly meet all my criteria for a rural and secluded place (it is known to some locals), many people haven’t even heard of it.

Finn Slough is a tiny Fraser River fishing community founded by Finnish settlers who came to Richmond in the 1880s. It now has 30 residents who live in wooden houses either floating or built on stilts along the river. Most of the buildings were put up between the 1880s and 1950s and many are dilapidated, while some have been carefully restored.

Since my discovery, I have visited this historic living village many times in search of the perfect light. It was only on the most recent trip that I encountered my favourite type of warm and diffused light. As many of you know, Fuji X-Pro1 has become my main tool and it served me well during this assignment. Most of the images were shot with the 18mm F/2 and 35mm F/1.4 lens – super sharp and bright.

See for yourself.

15 thoughts on “Search for the unknown!

  1. Great work Olaf. I must agree with you totally regarding your reply to “Anonymous” posted on August 7th 2012.
    As a landscape photographer I also strive for that elusive “magic light” which is extremely rare and transitory!
    Often viewers will comment saying the image looks contrived, unnatural or over manipulated/saturated. The truth is that such light does exist – but it only reveals itself to the dedicated and prepared photographer!!! I can relate to your 20 trips.
    Keep up the wonderful work and thank you for sharing your insights and images. !

    1. Lawrance,

      Thank you for your kind thoughts. You are right saying that “magic light is extremely rare and transitory!” – for example last month I haven’t encountered such light at all.

      Thank you for visiting and all the best,


  2. Great great job Olaf!!!! i bought 1 mount ago the fuji x-pro1 with 35 1.4, i am still learning how squeeze the 100% from this little jewel of camera… a question for you, the 18mm f2 is a great lens for you? i read a lot of reviews with negative feedback about sharpness issue… what’s your mind?


    1. Chris,

      You can do it! All you need to do is to find an interesting location, visit it repeatedly (my record is 23 times) until you encounter great light and instead of doing some minor adjustments in Lightroom, use all sort of filters.

      The second option is to shoot film – fuji Velvia to be exact (great light still required!).

      All the best,


      P.S. All digital images, jpeg or RAW are processed images – the first one processed in camera, the second one using the software like Lightroom or Aperture.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I find these images quite realistic, from seeing the bayou country of Louisiana and Texas at just the right times of some evenings or mornings. Of course, the vegetation does differ a bit, naturally. When the light is right, it is right.

  4. Hi Olaf,

    Great photos! Amazing what the right light, right subject and Lightroom can do (I use as well). I appreciate the dedication to going back to the same site may times; I do this as well probably too much!

    I shoot with a 5D Mk2 and love it but find it, and the lenses, getting heavy in my 60’s years. I’m seriously looking at the Fuji Pro to lighten my weight but have to ponder carefully as this involves selling some of my L lenses to finance. Still in the race for me are the NEX-7, EM5 or newer versions of all preceding. I’m not sure about the 4/3 sensor size…

    Lived in Coquitlam but moved after retirement to Nanaimo in March. The island is rich with photo possibilities.

    All the best,


    1. John,

      Thank you for visiting my blog and your kind comments. Before I invested in the Fuji X-Pro1 I used Nikon equipment with professional grade lenses. I also hesitated to sell all my equipment but since I already tried Fuji X100 (I truly love this little camera) I decided to switch to Fuji. For my kind of photography (i don’t do sports) it is just perfect. I really like Fuji colour and quality of prime lenses – from my experience they are above what Canon or Nikon offer. From what I saw Olympus has also some an exceptional glass however the 4/3 sensor size is problematic.

      I would love to visit the Nanaimo area. Maybe next year.

      Thank you for visiting.


  5. Hi Olaf,
    Beautiful pictures and I admire your dedication to this project. I must say, I did say to myself, these look hdr-ish and I wonder how he processed them. They may not be HDR in the sense that the dynamic range was too bright for a single exposure but they do have a somewhat tone-mapped look to them. I have nothing against this and am all for the photographer using whatever tools they have to create their vision! Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing for your vision.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I did only few adjustments in Lightroom 4 (I don’t use Photoshop to keep it simple) with contrast, vibrancy, sky (darkened), minor cropping and sharpening using Sharpener Pro. When I downloaded pictures to my computer I was also surprised how “unreal” they look. An unique light makes such a difference! I also have other pictures from the same location with less favourable light and they look “normal” but dull. We cannot forget about X-Pro1 and amazing Fuji lenses. All the best. Olaf

    1. They are as real as photographs can be. It took me almost a year and nearly 20 trips to photograph this place the way I wanted. In other words I was looking for “unreal light” to have this magic look (this is not HDR!). I spend a lot of time waiting for great light and many people may not realize how different type of light can change the look of a photograph. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of dedication and time (driving to the same locations multiple times and most often coming back with nothing). All the best, Olaf

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