Sand Tones

I have been offering critiques but have not posted lately. It is a long wait for spring in Michigan so I decided to try a B&W from this winter in Death Valley. I know, another B&W sand dune but a first for me! I enjoy the flow and wide range of tones in this image.

What technical feedback would you like if any?

Any is always helpful

What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I am looking for any thoughts or suggested improvements.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

F11, 100ISO, 195mm, 1/60s
(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)

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Alan, you’ve got a good thing going here with the B&W interpretation. To me the high contrast is quite striking. Only a suggestion, I’m wondering how it would work if you cropped about half the space above the top most dune to just below that little dimple. Might be a bit simpler and more abstract that way, just a thought.

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Not all Death Valley images are alike. This one stands out. I like it very much. It just looks so elegant. There’s something refined about it.

You’re likely to get comments to remove the dimple. I would vote to keep it. You’ve given enough space above it to be a feature.

Beautiful abstract.

Alan, I agree with Igor, this DV image stands out from the pack. First, because it is an exquisitely processed B&W, as Igor said it is elegant looking. But it also grabs my attention due to the use of very strong diagonal lines in a vertical composition. This creates a very bold and dynamic look that makes the image pop on my screen. I also think this would make a very powerful print as well.

I am normally not a fan of small things near frame edges, such as the dimple here. But I agree with Igor, you have given it enough space for it to be seen as a deliberate choice, rather than something you missed. I think if you tried to clone the dimple away, that far dune would then look like a dull featureless sky, and this would detract from the image.

Very nice work here, print this one large and hang it proudly…

Alan, I find this exquisite. A lot of Death Valley images have become too similar as of late and I personally am numb to a lot of them. I really enjoy the dark streaks on the slopes and the fact that they are echoed throughout the image is very very nice. I can see why you would remove the dimple, but I simply love it. Like @Ed_McGuirk, I would have thought that the background is a dull sky without the dimple and that would have diminished the impact of the image. I am wondering if the image would improve if you burn the lower right corner and open up the shadow just a little bit more on the midground dark slope. I gave it a quick try and have no preference either way. I think you have done very well with this image.


This is excellent! Certainly a unique view and I would go so far as to say out of the box a bit. I say out of the box because I think there’s a rotation here, am I seeing this correctly? The vertical lines in the shadowed faces of both the lower and upper dune I’m thinking should be more vertical? For sure it’s a mind bender for me and now I’m fixated on that.

I’m also intrigued by the softness of the mid-tone sand beneath those shadowed faces.

There is really quite a bit to explore and enjoy here. the contrast is excellent - although I would tend to agree and maybe open up the darker shadow up top just a shade.

I’m ambivalent about the dimple up top. Agree you’ve given it enough space to operate, but I find it pulls my eye.

This one certainly has this viewer engaged. Beautifully envisioned and executed.


Must first thought was beautiful bands. The second was that the dimple was a distraction. But I really love how each band is so different from each other.

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Thank you @Bill_Leggett, @Igor_Doncov, @Ed_McGuirk, @Adhika_Lie, @Lon_Overacker for all of your kind words and comments. This was my first trip to Death Valley ( photo workshop), and very much out of character for me I had very few preconceived ideas for images or even particular areas I wanted to shoot. A nice B&W dune abstract was the one I wanted to come home with. As you know DV is an amazing place to photograph and visiting without many expectations was a wonderful experience.

For academic interest I included a repost without the dimple and pulled up the shadows in the dark mid-ground a bit. I do prefer the dimple.

@Lon_Overacker it was interesting to read your comments regarding the vertical lines. I am pretty certain the scene is level as presented. I also found those lines quite intriguing and have some tighter shots as well, this was my favorite though. I do enjoy abstracts and I was like a kid in a candy store!

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Mission Accomplished. I like the shadows in the rework, but still like the dimple.

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Like Ed, I like the reworked tonality, but yeah, I want my dimple back.

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This is very striking, Alan. I have no nits at all with the original post- I just love the forms, the high contrast elements and the overall composition. Delightful !!

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Beautiful dunescape. I love the lines and tones. My first thought was to lose the dimple, as I find it pulls my eye out of the foreground where I want to hang out. There is quite the mixed opinion on it as I see. All good!

Harley, thanks for the kind comments. I am enjoying how the little “dimple” is a topic for discussion :grin:.

Very much liking the abstract quality of this, and the monochrome certainly helps in this regard. It feels a bit disorienting as it sort of feels like a drone viewpoint . . . but maybe not. But in abstract, disorienting is sometimes good.

Thank you for the kind comments @Tony_Kuyper.
I don’t own a drone but they do look fun to fly!

This is a very striking dune image, Alan. It has a wonderful range of tones and textures spread throughout the scene. I also particularly like the diagonal lines in the dunes as it gives the image depth and draws me into the landscape. I think I prefer the original post with the dimple. Beautifully done.

Ed, I was pleasantly surprised at the reception it received here. I really appreciate you taking the time to offer your thoughts. DVNP is truly a uniquely beautiful place to photograph.

Alan: Dunes are some of my favorite subjects and I like what you’ve done here. I do prefer your crop without the dimple. Terrific conversion. :+1::+1:>=))>

Thanks Bill! I do remember your fantastic “going it alone” dune scene and really appreciate you taking the time to offer your insight. I seldom have the opportunity to shoot dunes but really enjoy the creativity they can inspire!