Photographing the Dunes

Photographing the Dunes

In 2013 I was filming a programme for the BBC Panorama programme in Cape Town, South Africa.  We had a couple of days downtime, which, after spending several days filming in the Townships (which is sadly rather stressful on a number of different levels), was a relief.  We drove for a couple of hours to Struissbai, which is just to the east of L'Agulhas - the southernmost tip of Africa, and the point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.

Struissbai, on the Indian Ocean side, is a small town which is popular in the summer months.  It was very quiet when we were there.  I had been here before a couple of years earlier, and I was keen to seek out the dunes of silver white sand which reached for miles up the coastline.  These aren't huge 100 metre dunes like you get in Saudi Arabia or Namibia, but smaller dunes which are between 2-4 metres high.

The trick with dune photography is to get the light right.  A late afternoon sun, low in the sky, gives shape, contrast and depth.  I literally raced around a small patch of duneland for maybe 45 minutes, and took many photographs.  The use of a red filter renders the skies to black in black and white photography.  Most of the best of these images can now be seen in the Dune collection

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