<<< o >>>desert tracks 66 comments + add yours

I've had a great few days at the Gulf Photo Plus Fotoweekend, and did find a bit of time to take some shots during my landscape workshop out in the desert. I have another three that I'll be putting up, but think that this one may well be my favourite.

And I would write more, but have another class to give in an hour or so, so will tell you more about my trip when I post my next entry. In the meanwhile, let me know what you think of this one.

If you're interested, the original for this one is here:


Update: I've just posted my latest tutorial – Creative workflow #3 – which is based around this image. If you're not a subscriber to our tutorials you can find out more about our Creative workflow series here:


focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter
3.54pm on 20/11/09
Canon 5D Mark II
EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
aperture priority
3x2 + travel [Dubai, UAE]
comment by -trondh- at 10:50 AM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Fantastic image, love the colors and the crispy clouds and sand. Really like the low angle too, great work! :-)

comment by sil at 11:07 AM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Amazing capture! Great dof too!

comment by Furanku at 11:17 AM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

An instant favorite. The composition, the sky, the details in the sand....
And I love the colors!

comment by Stephen at 11:33 AM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

So many try very hard to avoid getting a foot print in their photos. Way to embrace it.

comment by theys at 11:34 AM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Fantastic image, love the colors,superbe!

comment by 1meter89 at 11:50 AM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Great shot! Love the detail in the foreground.

comment by yz at 12:16 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

wow, fantastic

comment by Mirko Herzner at 12:17 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Amazing shot which works especially good for its simple composition and subject. Great sky.

comment by Carlos Garcia at 12:21 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Welcome back David! Wonderful image and processing. Who thought that sand, sky and clouds could be so beautiful?


comment by Kevin at 12:23 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

I love the processing in this. Did you pull the blue in the sky from the RAW file or did you introduce it during processing?

comment by Craig at 12:33 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

The low angle works for me and a marked improvement over the original frame. Somehow I expect to see a sandcrawler pass through the frame rather than a 4x4, it has the feel of being on another planet or perhaps I've watched Star Wars too many times ;) It's a great frame, I look forward to seeing more from this trip.

comment by April Pinsonneault at 01:47 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

There's the 24 mm at work! I actually understood all of the specs. Progress :)

This is wonderful. The textures and colors are perfect.

comment by Dan Kaufman at 02:32 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

this is so interesting. definitely not your typical "dunescape" shot. and of course the post-processing it quintessential chromasia. two thumbs up.

comment by Thatch at 02:35 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Great landscape. Love the angle and the fact you have got the not so much human destruction of the landscape as that will all blow away, but the fact humans have touched a pristine landscape. All the best.

comment by Gabor Varga at 02:40 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Fascinatingly beautiful...

comment by laanba at 03:48 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Striking, even more so when you see the original. I love the lines leading my eye up onto the dune.

comment by Debbie Hartmann at 03:49 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

I like everything about this photograph. The contrast between the smooth sand and the sand with tracks... the lighting, the angle.. and that sky and clouds are just plain magical.

comment by Yvette at 04:11 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Fantastic image! The colors, textures and light are amazing!!!

comment by Claus Petersen at 04:43 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

I love how endless this one feels... And I really want to see what's one the other side of that dune to the right.

comment by Dave at 05:48 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

That photo is just insane! Man, the clouds and the colour of the sky against the colour of the sand. It's stunning.

comment by Mark Feliciano at 06:10 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

You ARE the master!

comment by Eugene at 06:51 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Awesome post-processing here!

comment by micha at 07:07 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Breathtaking! Just perfect and full of aura. Congratulations. Waiting for the next one :)

comment by Sonny Parlin at 07:58 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Simply amazing!!

comment by kerlu at 08:54 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Brilliant ! I really love the tracks, the contrast between the soft clouds ad the straightness of those tracks. The composition and the processing fit very well. Bravo !

comment by Frida at 09:35 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Beautiful image and the sand is golden and grainy. Beautiful dof and sky!

comment by Nicki at 10:08 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

I cannot believe what I see: Of course I'm fascinated of the capture, but more from your conception of the post processed shot. Crucially is the fact - that you see things which everbody will not assume in this scenery, and that's the point which makes a outstanding "shooter" like you, like chromasia.

comment by Jem at 11:15 PM (GMT) on 22 November, 2009

Absolutely awesome shot Dave - wonderful post-processing. Love it <3

comment by april Pinsonneault at 04:28 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

I finally had a chance to go back to the original. Quite a difference. Did you add grain to the sand? Did you do alot more than curves and tonal changes?

comment by Megha at 05:43 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

WOW...great work...how did u manage to turn the original image to this wonderful :)

comment by Chris at 06:51 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

Excellent shot and fantastic transformation from the original. I can not wait to see the other two images from this set. Seeing all that sand, does it make you miss the sandy beaches in the UK?

comment by Pavan Kaul at 08:46 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

Awesome composition, depth, detail and color! Great work!!!******

comment by Jennifer at 08:51 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

Brilliant comp and colours.

comment by Tero at 08:56 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

I like the composition, but the post processing is fantastic!

comment by Tony at 09:23 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

Now THAT I like.

comment by Simone at 11:05 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

I'm really speachless David...this one is PERFECT!!!

comment by Ariel at 11:13 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

Lovely, delightful tones and colors. Lights and shadows seem to be exactly on the right key (or at least my eyes are happy!)

comment by Hamid at 11:45 AM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

please pay attention the true name is Persian Gulf not gulf, thanx.

comment by rady at 01:41 PM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

David, this is image is so live as if you were looking through a window!

comment by hoi at 05:16 PM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

Wonderful image! I like everything about it!

comment by Gary Eddleston at 09:10 PM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

Instantly a shot that meets the eye with such focus and interest. I've seen the video's of the trucks that make these tracks, Trying to defeat the sand-hill and you have captured a tranquil side to these crazy events!

Such detail in the foreground, yet smooth silk towards the background.

Simply Stunning!

comment by Richard at 09:15 PM (GMT) on 23 November, 2009

That's a seriously cool shot. Great composition with the tracks leading to the dune, really interesting textures, nice light, excellent clouds, lovely contrast between the blue and the sand. Outstanding.

comment by Kevin H. Stecyk at 01:35 AM (GMT) on 24 November, 2009

Beautiful photograph and wonderful work David.

I am going to review your Landscapes tutorial again.

I hope you and your family are doing well!

comment by rhys at 06:50 AM (GMT) on 24 November, 2009

holy mother! You are killing me with this ! Man this is superb.

comment by gavin hart at 07:43 AM (GMT) on 24 November, 2009

Wonderful enrichment of the original image you achieved here with your processing. Love the result you got with the sky ... beautiful. Simone who commented above, alerted me on Facebook about this post - thanks Simone. Certainly an image to be admired, indeed.

comment by Jason at 01:54 PM (GMT) on 24 November, 2009

Hi Dave, sorry I missed you at GPP. I think this shot has received the most comments ever and deservingly so. Love how you took the one thing everyone tries to avoid in their desert shot and turned it into the subject and made use of our very rare clouds to create a beautiful 3D image. My favorite shot of the desert ever...

comment by Al at 02:33 PM (GMT) on 24 November, 2009

Well done David. Capturing the tire tracks from a lower viewpoint gives good composition.

Post processing is excellent. Did you use make contrast adjustments using masked curves? What tutorials of yours would be a good reference on how you achieved the end result of this image?

comment by ryan at 09:55 PM (GMT) on 24 November, 2009

Good god, that's fantastic. Love the lighting on the dune.

comment by djn1 at 06:15 PM (GMT) on 25 November, 2009

Thanks everyone :)

comment by djn1 at 06:37 PM (GMT) on 25 November, 2009

Kevin: the blue is pulled from the original, all I did was add a couple of masked curves.

April: the final image was sharpened, which really brought out the grains in the sand.

Chris: yes, sometimes it would be good to take a walk along the beach in Blackpool. Most of the time though I'm happy to be in Bulgaria or, in this instance, the desert near Dubai :)

Kevin: yes, thanks, the family are good :)

Al: the tutorials that would be most relevant are Landscapes: creating dramatic images and Masking: part one (particularly the section on repairing a mask).

comment by Joe at 03:27 PM (GMT) on 26 November, 2009

What a dramatic sky. Wounderful image...

comment by thaqif. at 02:21 PM (GMT) on 27 November, 2009

Magnificent! One of my all time favourites! =D

comment by Tom K. at 04:58 PM (GMT) on 27 November, 2009

Oh My! That's Nice.

comment by Marisol Risakotta/ImgSensors at 08:59 PM (GMT) on 29 November, 2009

Marvelous enhancing!! Absolutely wonderful image! Love it! Very much!

comment by John at 04:46 AM (GMT) on 30 November, 2009

Absolutely amazing. I have followed your blog for quite some time and this is a particularly stunning shot. Thanks for brightening my day !

comment by chiara at 10:28 PM (GMT) on 30 November, 2009


comment by catalin georgescu at 02:17 PM (GMT) on 1 December, 2009

How would you respond to someone telling you that this picture is a totally different picture from the one you started from, and that it is more or less a photomontage (hence, a untrue/a lie).
I've used all my best arguments to contradict that point of view but still, i'm curious. What arguments would you use?
I'm well aware that these discussions are as old as photography but they are even more important today, software becoming more and more accessible.

comment by djn1 at 03:33 PM (GMT) on 1 December, 2009

Catalin: generally, there are two ways I answer that question.

First: no photograph is ever the truth, at least not the whole truth: the photographer frames the image (including some elements while excluding others), selects the focal length of lens to use (thereby altering the perspective), sets the exposure, and so on. As such, a photograph is as much about interpretation as it is about (literal) facts.

If you accept that point - that producing an image is an interpretative act - then there's a further complication; i.e. what do you take to be the baseline reality that you're interpreting? And I think there are two answers to that question: the reality of the actual scene, and the reality of your perception of that scene. If you take the former as the benchmark to aim for then clearly my image is a long way from that particular truth, though the original scene was quite a bit more interesting than the out-of-the-camera shot. Unfortunately though, the original looks like a pile of sand on a rather dull, flat day - which is true with respect to the reality of the scene, but false with respect to my perception of it. I was in the desert, one of the most inhospitable places on earth, and it felt a lot more exciting than it looked.

As such, my final image is closer to the experience of being there than it is to the visual truth of the scene, but for me that's what photography is all about - offering a visually compelling interpretation of a scene.

The second way I answer the question is "so what?" ;-)

comment by george@Minimalistics at 09:17 PM (GMT) on 2 December, 2009

Re: Catalin's question: there's no right or wrong in art, just different interpretations using different mediums, which the viewer can either like or dislike. It's their prerogative.

I happen to like this image - photoshop 'n' all.

comment by Bim at 10:10 PM (GMT) on 2 December, 2009

Frankly an absolutely beautiful shot. I love this deep colours and tracks on the desert floor.

comment by Krista at 09:53 PM (GMT) on 3 December, 2009

The texture... I'm so drawn to it! Wow!

comment by catherine at 09:47 PM (GMT) on 7 December, 2009

that one really rocks !

comment by Mark at 11:17 PM (GMT) on 11 December, 2009

I'm often surprised how some will accept what the camera produces, with it's limited ability to capture a scene the way it truely was to have experienced it, as the "truth". I have a feeling that the processed imaged is much closer to what it was like to have actually been standing there, then the off-camera image has documented for us. This is another perfect example of that.
Just a fantasic image David! Thanks for sharing it.

comment by aurore at 05:28 PM (GMT) on 18 December, 2009


comment by Victor Curto at 09:11 PM (GMT) on 4 January, 2010

Striking image with a wide choice of colors.

comment by Lee Harth at 02:54 AM (GMT) on 14 September, 2010

Love this image. The road to heaven.Looks like you could keep going up, up and up.