Hi everyone and welcome to today’s post. Alright, I am going to make a very generalized statement here; “I hate wind”. There I have said it. As a landscape photographer I really do like stillness. After all the wind creates blurry leaves, moving grass, blowing dust, and everything else that can seemingly ruin a shooting outing. And then there is effect the wind has on the temperature. A cold wind is certainly miserable and a hot wind no better. Yes, I do not like the wind. But guess what folks. Mother Nature sent me a note recently and said get over it. “I am going to blow and you might as well get used to it”.
I have been know to pack up my cameras instead of facing the opportunities that wind offers. The wind has tried my patience on so many occasions, rendering me a sulking and unhappy photographer. To quote Catherine the Great, “A great wind is blowing, and that gives you either imagination or a headache”. I typically suffer from the latter condition. I am working through this though because it really is my issue. The wind just does what the wind does. It comes and goes, and it blows. Its natural and necessary. The wind is kind of like Mother Nature’s maintenance cycle. She blows in a few storms to bring rain, spreads a few seeds around, and slowly changes the landscape. Nowhere is this more evident than in sand dunes. More so than water, the wind is the force that moves them. Slowly over time, grain by grain, sand dunes move.
Today’s image was made out in the Western Dune Fields of White Sands National Monument. The dunes in this area are immense and generally free of plant life except in the inter-dune zones. I ventured into this area in a windstorm. I faced my demons and marched into the fray. The wind was blowing with an intensity I have not experienced in quite a while. Quite honestly it was really howling with sustained winds of 30 mph and gusts to 50. Out here, alone, I saw geology at work. Whipped by the winds frenzy, the fine gypsum particles were gathered up and blown skyward. Ripples formed, reformed, and moved before my eyes. Sand blew off the edges and my footprints disappeared in a matter of minutes. The dunes were literally moving, and I was moving with them.
Shooting in the wind does present a few challenges. Camera motion and stability is the first one. For this image I jammed my tripod legs into the sand for anchoring support. After establishing the exposures and brackets I wanted I positioned my body as a wind-stop, or airfoil. And then I practiced my patience. Yep, you heard that right. Patience. When shooting in the wind you have to slow down. I would wait for the cycles and lulls between the big blows and fire the shutter. This was made all the more challenging as I was shooting focus brackets along with exposure brackets. I stood just back of the edge and framed this shot to capture the patterns of ripples and the subtle sweeping line of the dune as it moved towards the horizon. Shooting nearly into the sun I caught the rising sand backlit against the advancing clouds. There is both a sharp clarity to this image and a softness. All of this was merged together by the conditions and tendered by the wind. My new friend.
Camera Settings: Nikon D800E and a Tokina 16-28mm, f2.8 lens at 22mm. Image exposed at ISO 50 at f11 for 1/250 seconds. This is a two shot, focus bracketed image processed in LR 4.4 and finished in PS 5.5
Thanks for stopping by today.
Image ©2013 Robert H Clark Photography.