Selection of May 2021: Soft Pastels by Mieke Boynton

Soft Pastels by Mieke Boynton

 Many years ago, I was driving across the famous Nullarbor Plain in South Australia – a desolate and uncompromising highway that stretches across the Southern Coast of Australia for 1,365 kilometres (848 miles) – and I stayed the night at a place called Eucla. I had a bit of time on my hands, so I drove down to the historic Telegraph Station there, and then discovered the Bilbunya Dunes. I didn’t have good light, nor enough time to photograph the dunes properly, so when I needed to drive across the same stretch of highway a couple of years later, I planned to stay at Eucla and try again.

On my second trip, I arrived early in the afternoon and decided to venture out with my 4WD on the tracks that criss-crossed the landscape. Unfortunately, I mis-judged the depth of the sand as I came down one of the dunes and got myself properly bogged. I was very embarrassed, as it was within eyesight of the old Telegraph Station, so everyone who came down to view the building, witnessed my stupidity! Many of them offered to help, but I really was mortified, so I declined their kind offers. After about an hour working in the hot sun (it was about 45 degrees Celsius), digging with my bare hands and dragging tree branches and sticks across the hot sand to place underneath the tyres, I finally drove out. After returning to my room, berating myself soundly for my stupidity, having a cold shower and drinking lots of water, I returned to the dunes a couple of hours before sunset. I walked for several hours amongst the white sand dunes, and although it was windy and hot, I enjoyed it immensely. I did change my lens once, but realised very quickly that the sand was getting into everything, so for the remainder of the afternoon, I just used the one telephoto lens with a plastic camera “raincoat” over it to keep the majority of the sand out. As the sun got lower to the horizon, the sky turned pink and I captured this shot.

In terms of the processing, there was very little required for this photo. It was under-exposed, so I needed to brighten it globally, and there was a reddish tinge to the sand on the right which was not visible at the time I took the photo, so I fixed that up also. I removed a small number of little sticks and twigs and other imperfections that were a bit distracting also, but essentially, this beautiful scene is exactly what I witnessed. It was an experience I’ll never forget – for several reasons!   

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