Rock and Sand Patterns

One of the photographic wisdoms that we can stumble upon over and over again is “it’s all about the light” or “you just have to wait for the light” and I think that should be countered with a question: “what type of light?” – because that’s actually a partly technical, partly personal preference. Technical? Well, infrared photographers typically want strong contrasts and bright, daytime sunlight. The process just works best then.

I find myself less and less attracted to direct light and hard contrasts – when I have to deal with it, a black & white process often suits me more. The best time to make photos is in the wee hours before sunrise and after sunset (often called the “golden” or “blue” hour), when there’s actually no direct light at all – just a bright sky that is like a giant (colored) softbox, illuminating everything evenly. Overcast days work equally well, when a solid cloud cover flattens the light into a more manageable range.

The part of the beach where I made this photo was in the shade of the cliffs, allowing for a very even exposure with reduced contrast. Bringing back the contrast (with a typical “histogram stretching”, ie. adjusting both the black point and the white point of the tone curve) brings out more detail and colors – impossible with direct sunlight.

Abstract beach photography by Alexander S. Kunz
Rock and Sand Patterns – Drakes Beach, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County, CA.

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