I traveled down past Pismo Beach along the California coastline to take some photographs of the Oceano sand dunes. These were taken in August 2014.
When taken at the right time of day, sand dunes are visually stunning
We went down to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The sand dunes here are absolutely incredible! You have to go a ways before you find a location without any footprints, but it is worth it. The patterns change with the wind daily.
We decided to go an hour or so before sunset so that I could set up my tri-pod and camera. It was a lot of hiking up steep dunes, winding me a ton, but also a great adventure.
A low setting sun brings out beautiful shadows in the sand dunes
As the sun began to get lower in the sky, I noticed these beautiful shadows beginning to form. I never knew that sand could be so beautiful!
Plan ahead while hiking along the sand dunes
When hiking this far out on the dunes, it is important to bring food and water with you. It is also important to bring a flash light. As we left after sunset, it got dark pretty fast and I almost fell backwards down a super steep sand dune. While it was made of sand, I’m glad that Dave caught me before I fell. I was also really careful not to mar the patterns with my own footprints as much as possible. It proved to be challenging but was worth it. Please be respectful of other photographers when visiting the sand dunes.
Wait until the sun sets and enjoy a beautiful scene
We could see the ocean in the distance from where we were. There were tiny jeeps driving up and down the beach at the distant Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. As you can see in the photo above, once the sun set, the deep shadows were gone. The window for photographing sand dunes is a really small window, but worth the wait.
An unexpected visitor appeared on the coast
During our trip down the coast, when we finally got to the water part of the beach, we saw the most amazing thing! All over the shore were these really bizarre looking creatures.
They are called Velella. While they are a common sighting for sailors in the Pacific Ocean, as they sail along the surface of the water, they rarely come ashore. We got to witness a miracle of sorts. It was very interesting.
Local fauna and plants can also make interesting photography subjects
At our hotel, I loved seeing the succulents. While I had come down to photograph the sand dunes, I also found beauty all around me.
Stack focusing in Adobe Photoshop
For some of my sand photographs, I used a technique known as stack focusing in Adobe Photoshop. I took several photographs of the same scene and then focused my lens at different focal lengths. I then stacked the images together for a more crisp image. This technique usually works beautifully well in landscape photography, however, I found that the texture of the sand proved to be a challenge for Adobe to sort out so I was only successful with a few of my stacked photographs.
Overall it was well worth the trip to the coast and is now a cherished memory! I definitely want to go back some day!
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