Chatting with fellow photo enthusiasts recently (thank you FATman, 28mmf2, neihtn, peteshep), caused me to appreciate the paucity of ‘landscape’ images in my photo archives. It’s clearly not something that I seek out.
However, form and beauty do reside in all manner of banal things.
Something as ubiquitous and uninteresting as sand can be beguiling to the eye if given the photographer’s essential ingredient… good light.
In this case, late afternoon hazy sunlight in May 2010.
These are the Mingsha Mountain sand dunes near Dunhuang city in Gansu province, NW China.
Dunhuang is near the location of the renowned Mogao Buddhist Caves and, during China’s Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), was the start and/or end of the Silk Road trade route into China, across Central Asia. Buddhism is believed to have entered China during this time via the Silk Road.
Mingsha means something like ‘singing sands’ in Chinese, and refers to the peculiar sounds of these dunes when whipped by the wind or when you are clambering down its slopes… magic sands.
(Footnote: One of the bugbears of digital cameras is dust on the sensor. The near-desert regions of NW China are probably some of the worst environments in this regard. Blurry spots on images. I like to avoid post-processing – time consuming if nothing else. However, here’s the original image before Photoshop repairs – spots on LHS. There may still be some residual glitches in the image above.)