Lately we have been a bit nostalgic for the years we lived “Down Under” in Australia. Looking through old negatives, photographs and slides is a good way to travel back. In the process we found that some film is showing its age. When we scanned this negative we found scratches and embedded dust. So it was Photoshop to the rescue. When a photo optimizing software is used to restore images it is also restoring memories.
The dunes, near the ruins of the old telegraph station at Eucla, Western Australia, are a classic landscape. The telegraph station was built in 1877 near the state line with South Australia. A thriving small town developed but a rabbit plague in the 1890′s devoured the grass on the dunes. The destabilized Delisser Dunes grew and started moving, as they still do. The town was moved and the telegraph station was abandoned. We visited on a trip along the Great Australian Bight to see the Nullarbor Plain and watch for Right Whales from the cliffs along the coast. This is morning light as we were looking north.
After ‘spotting’ the dust and cloning out the the scratches, the image was optimized by dodging the dark side of the dune to reveal more detail. Optimizing the image was an exercise in thinking about and using the Zone System developed by Ansel Adams and Fred Archer to guide the range of illumination and amount of contrast distributed throughout the image. The resulting illumination and contrast in the negative and the image processing was controlled to emphasizes the lines.
In color work we think of it as the Tone System to spread the luminance from dark to light, irrespective of the colors. The digital darkroom emulates a wet darkroom without the chemicals and with greater control of the results.
This image breaks some landscape rules and is stronger for doing so. Instead of a line down the middle, it is often suggested that there be a diagonal through the landscape. The central line works because of the different textures and the counterbalancing of image weight (dark and light) in the lower right and upper left of the image. The dune edge line is repeated in the foreground ripples.
BTW, from a cliff top we did see a mother Right Whale, with the size and proportions of a box car, and her baby. The baby wanted to play with some dolphins that were cavorting nearby. But mother was a strict disciplinarian and kept the baby at her ‘hip’. There are sharks out there in the Bight.