(Black and) White Sands
My girlfriend gave me several Edward Weston books for Christmas. Great inspiration that I took to heart on a recent visit to White Sands in New Mexico.
White Sands is the biggest field of gypsum sand dunes on our planet. Gypsum sand is very white compared to those boring over-photographed quartz sand dunes of the Sahara or Namibia. It makes for great color photos, especially at sunset when the sunlit sand turns orange and the shaded sand goes blue. But this is winter and with the sun low in the sky, there's little excuse not to shoot all day. Add the psyche that came from ogling the Weston shots of the Oceano dunes, and I couldn't help thinking in black and white.
Near the road, the dunes are laced with footprints, but venture a few hundred yards from the cars and the footprints diminish until after 15 to 20 minutes of wandering you are in untracked territory.
Here was a place where my photo brain, usually easily overwhelmed by the "grand landscape", could digest both the overall view and the abstract details.
Yep, another photographer laying tracks into my otherwise pristine landscape. Dang it, if I want to see another person out here why can't it be one of those alluring dune nymphs that seem to pop up in Weston's shots?
Oooh, oooh, there's one now. Time to reach into my bag of wildlife photography tricks and see if I can get a bit closer.
Damn, I think she spotted me. Please don't run....
Wow, I must have made Santa's nice list.
Okay, I admit when I was a young lad, the thought of shooting nudes seemed pretty erotic. I dreamed of lusty trysts with the models. But when I actually have the opportunity, I found I was more intent on nailing the exposures and the poses than the model.
It's a lot of hard work requiring rigid, unflagging attention to details.
One aspect of the Weston dune nudes I found cool was the dark outline around the figure - a natural reflective phenomena of front-lit subjects that nevertheless Weston was often accused of somehow doctoring after the fact.
I'm managing to capture a bit of the dark outline by dialing up the contrast on these shots.
Overall, I'm quite happy with these shots and excited to do more figure photography in the future (not to mention I have a strong emotional attachment to my subject). And next time I'll pay as much attention to the armpit-ponytail shadow as I do to the nipple shadow.
As always on this blog, all content is ©John Sherman, no reproduction without written permission. Thanks.