Small Dunes at Sunrise

Photographing the dunes was one of the most entertaining photography experiences I have had. I spent a similar amount of time working the scenes as I would with wave photography and it is so satisfying to make sense of something. I would have to say a portfolio made up of dune, forest, and wave photography alone would be enough for me even though I occasionally do some grand landscape work as well.

Specific Feedback Requested

What bothers you about the image? Is there anything you would change about the color balance or crop? I admit it is fairly bottom heavy with the textures of the foreground dominating the frame.

Technical Details


Hi Kyle, I like this scene a lot with all the texture, light and shadows. I think the bottom half could be a great image on its own, the top half is also very nice and but its competing for attention. The color balance and contrast look good to me.

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Wonderful textures, shapes and lines in this image, Kyle. While this could be a terrific black and white, the muted color tones work well with this image. The shadow and light play really showcase the dramatic grooves in the foreground while softly shaping the background mounds. I think this image works well on it’s own but I also think that the foreground and the background could be playing against each other as @Glenn_Tunaley states. You could think about cropping some of the foreground away, maybe as much as half and turn it into a semi panoramic image to see if that gives slightly better balance but at the same time I like it as is. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

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A great image with its textures and shapes! Like it a lot. The only comment on crop or color is that you could have included a little more space at the top, but I assume that there where something disturbing you did not want to include.

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This was shot at the edge of the dunes. There simply wasn’t anything interesting above the top of frame and I didn’t want a massive job focus stacking in post by zooming in and focus stacking.


What I’m liking most is how different this is from so many classic dune image. The foreground patterns are mesmerizing, hypnotic. What’s different is the emphasis and weight given to the foreground, vs. background. The edge of real estate goes to the foreground dune and patterns, but this almost comes across as 50-50 (which is not detrimental with this image IMO.)

The color, contrast and processing all look great.

The only thing that is problematic is the top of the frame. And I say that not because you made a poor choice… only that I think the landscape and just the nature of the dunes probably made this nearly impossible to find the best place to frame and/or crop this after the fact. I think you made the best choice possible. The only thing I would suggest to try and make a cleaner top edge, would be to clone or somehow make the bright sliver in the URC go away. I think that would go a long ways to help the framing up top.

Beautifully seen and captured.


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Hi Kyle,
I keep coming back to this one. It’s really wonderful, especially that foreground texture. I love how it takes on a kind of maze-like form. I wonder if cropping some more off the top might add interest? The distant dunes do not present a good cropping point, and as others have said, what lies above them is probably not very interesting. That’s always been my take on the Mesquite dunes, and incidentally also my feelings about the background mountains at the Painted Hills. Of course, then I feel horrible for wanting nature to be more photogenic.

I did download your image and play with it a bit in Windows photo editor (a blunt instrument useful for cropping and not forgetting that an image is not mine!!). I came up with one option that might be interesting. Sometimes we need someone else to see possible edges, or maybe it will be a “meh” attempt to improve on an already wonderful image. Anyway, playing with crops down from the top might provide some surprises.

Great image any way you look at it. Thanks for sharing,

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I like your edit! It simplifies the scene nicely. A good reminder that sometimes less is more. Thank you :blush::jack_o_lantern:

Thanks, @Kyle_Kephart . I think there is an even better one with a tiny slice more at the top. If you scroll around with the original one above, you’ll probably find the sweet spot with a little more of the dunes I cut off, but nothing beyond them.

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