Death Valley Dunes

This is my second shot from my visit in February. It is a single exposure taken towards sunset.
I processed it dark for a play on the light.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any and all.

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

It is processed darker to accent the shadows/light. Does it look to contrasty?

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

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Hi Greg,

Very moody image here. I think the contrast helps give it that mood. It’s quite mysterious.

The layers are great!


I agree with all of Nathan’s comments. The contrast I think is a positive addition to the scene and accentuates the light beautifully - light and shadow. A small element, but I also like the presence of the soft mountain backdrop, letting the spotlighted top-center dune and upper ridge stand out.

Some of the shadow areas the detail is just barely visible. But I think considering this is more about light, shadow, contrasts, layers, etc., that shadow detail is less important here.

This is an excellent dune image and kudos for taking a little step out of the standard processing box…


Definitely doesn’lt look too contrasy for me. I love the moodiness it evokes. We all know what sand dunes actually look like, but you have shown us more of what they feel like.

I agree with the above comments…the management of light and shadow to my interpretation here are very appealing. The color management feels comfortable, the high-frequency and low frequency detail of the fine ripples and major lines here looks well done. The only critique I have is the “busy-ness” of the lines…for my eye, there are many ridgelines on which to land my eyes, and they tend to compete with one-another. Not sure if this is my more personal taste and preference for greater simplicity, or if others would agree. Be interested in your thoughts on this. Thanks for sharing and again, I think this is extremely well procesed.

I think your processing is spot on Greg. It does not look to contrasty to me. I love the balance of light and shadow.

Thanks @Nathan_Klein. My ventures into processing dunes you can count on one hand so I am never sure. Hope all is well!

Thanks @Lon_Overacker. Now that I look at it here, maybe I need to take some light away from the right ridge and but more on the top center dune? Thanks for the feedback.

Thanks @alison2. When you are out on the dunes by yourself, as it gets dark, it definitely has an eerie feeling.

Thanks @Jim_McGovern for the feedback. I do agree about the busy-ness and large scope of this type of shot. A more intimate shot would solve that. I hope to eventually get there because of the newness of sand dunes to me. Maybe I should try and shape the light to land more on the top central dune and lighten some of the ridges? Thanks for the input.

Thanks @Eva_McDermott for the flattering comments!