The Stockton Sand Dunes – Tales + Digicam Settings

Let’s take a stroll by way of the sand dunes of Stockton with Deb Newton of Lens and Muse, native photographer and contributor of The Wandering Lens.

Highly effective, breathtaking and ever-changing, the Stockton sand dunes situated on the Worimi Conservation Lands in Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia are an ever-changing kaleidoscope of sweeping curves, textures, distinctive patterns, colors and dynamic contrasts of sunshine and shadow.

Fairly merely put, these lots of shifting sand are a photographer’s dream.

The Port Stephens space, situated a brief drive from Newcastle, is in and of itself, a photogenic paradise. From azure blue bays and surf seashores, to the towering headland of Tomaree Nationwide Park, and an abundance of strolling trails snaking by way of nature reserves dotted alongside the shoreline, there are many landscapes to be impressed by. It’s simple to see why so many photographers have Port Stephens on their checklist of locations to seize.

One other inspiring panorama situated within the Port Stephens space is the Stockton Sand Dunes situated on the Worimi Conservation Lands. At a size of 32km, the Stockton Sand Dunes are the longest transferring sand dunes within the Southern Hemisphere, and at their peak, can attain as much as 50 metres excessive.

From the second you arrive, it’s not onerous to see simply how imposing the dunescape is. While this panorama appears extremely spectacular from a distance, it’s solely once you begin strolling amongst these towering partitions of sand that you simply get an actual sense of simply what number of photographic alternatives there are in and amongst the dunes.


Exploring the Stockton Sand Dunes

In the case of exploring and photographing these landscapes, it’s vital to grasp that dunes may be fairly deceiving in relation to safely navigating your manner out and in. If, like me, you propose on strolling your self out and in of the dunes, a few tricks to take into account could be:

Watch the climate – each earlier than and through your dune journey. This isn’t simply from a images perspective, but in addition guaranteeing you’re dressed appropriately for the climate you anticipate you’ll expertise.

Familiarise your self with the entry and exit factors. Attempt to discover a bodily panorama maker you can simply recognise to warn you to these entry and exit factors, in order that should you’re strolling again in very low gentle, you may nonetheless safely discover your manner out.

Pay attention to the wildlife that you could be come throughout within the dunes. If the dunes are inside a Nationwide Park, the Nationwide Parks web sites present a wealth of data round each the natural world you can look forward to finding within the space.

Behind the Lens – Tales + Settings

Digicam Settings: ISO 100 – 28mm – f16 – 1/15sec

Don’t let the calm wanting nature of this picture idiot you – this explicit afternoon within the dunes the wind was howling as an incoming storm got here rolling in.
I had been watching the climate forecast all afternoon and determined to take an opportunity and drive as much as the dunes and see what I might seize whatever the manner the climate turned out. As I walked into the dunes, the cloud cowl was rising considerably – as was the pace of the wind – and I knew I’d have a restricted period of time to scout for a location, resolve on my composition, seize it and get again out of the dunes earlier than the storm hit. I continued to stroll into the dunes a little bit additional than ordinary and I got here throughout this scene. The solar’s golden hues have been spilling out from the skies to the west hitting the peaks of the dunes giving depth, kind and distinction to the dunescape by way of shadow and light-weight.

There was sufficient gentle to select up the patterns of the sand ripples within the foreground, and the mixture of the sunshine hitting the peaks of the dunes and howling wind transferring the grains of sand at a fast tempo, meant that I might seize the motion of the sand throughout the peaks of the dunes within the picture. The inverse main traces of the curvature of the dunes and
the clouds additionally added some visible curiosity to the picture.

Digicam Settings: ISO 100 – 70mm – f5.6 – 1/40sec

The sunshine on the night this explicit picture was captured was probably the most wonderful shows I’ve witnessed to date within the dunes. Because the solar continued to dip decrease and decrease, the color of the sand would change as the sunshine did – from smooth yellows, to pastel pinks and muted oranges, to fantastically earthy burnt sienna tones – a kaleidoscope of ever altering color constantly modified the panorama earlier than me.

The earthy tones within the dunes offered by the sunshine later within the night have been simply beautiful, and I needed to get inventive and isolate a small part of a dune to create a extra summary seize and focus in on the intricate sand ripples and type of the dunes.

Digicam Settings: ISO 100 – 35mm – f14 – 1/20sec

Natural shapes and sand ripple patterns within the dunes are a few of my most favorite types of photographs to seize. What I like about it’s realizing that the subsequent time I flip up on the identical location, I’ll by no means have the ability to seize the identical shapes and sand ripple patterns ever once more, and due to this fact every picture is exclusive. While I’m an enormous fan of color pictures, there’s something so splendidly uncooked, highly effective and pared again about black and white

The sunshine this explicit afternoon was a little bit uninspiring, and so I went in quest of natural shapes and patterns within the dunes as an alternative. I spent practically an hour on this one undisturbed space of dune the place there have been miraculously no footprints or 4 wheel tyre tracks to spoil the picture. What struck me with this composition was the very pronounced pure curve transferring my eye all through the body, and the best way the sunshine accentuated the distinction of
texture between the graceful sand and the raised sand ripples.

Digicam Settings: ISO 100 – 70mm – f11 – 1/25sec

While golden hour is my favorite gentle to shoot in, each every so often, it’s good to push myself creatively and seize the dunes at completely different instances of the day. It had rained the evening prior, and the cloud cowl was setting in to stay round all day so I made a decision to seize my digital camera and head out to the dunes and see what I might discover to seize.

Strolling into the dunes what caught my eyes have been the patterns within the sand. The patterns I’m referring to weren’t from the standard natural ripple patterns you discover in these landscapes, fairly, the patterns got here from the rain the evening earlier than and the sand drying in several sections at completely different instances, creating summary shapes all through the panorama – it appeared as if somebody had taken to the dunes with a giant paintbrush. Having vital cloud
cowl additionally meant that I basically had Mom Nature’s very personal model of a diffuser the scale of the sky to melt the scene which helped to create a pastel color palette. As I began to take photographs of the dunes, I seen a cloud hovering above the height of one of many dunes – it appeared prefer it was so shut that I might simply stroll up and contact it…in fact I couldn’t, however the cloud, the pastel color palette and the patterns from the rain made for a whimsical type seize.

Digicam Settings: DJI Mini 3 Professional – ISO 100 – 6.72mm – f/1.7 – 1/1250sec

There’s one thing so magical about aerial photographs of any panorama – and capturing sand dunes from an aerial perspective isn’t any completely different. I like the inventive freedom a drone can carry to composing and capturing a scene, and it’s very helpful to discover a little bit additional afield in a dunescape when your legs can’t fairly go the space. It’s vital to notice that it’s a good suggestion to do your analysis relating to restrictions previous to launching your drone to be sure you are allowed to fly your drone within the space you’re capturing. The Stockton Sand Dunes do have sure restricted areas requiring approval to fly a drone when the world is energetic, and I take advantage of the app Open Sky to test for any restrictions and to verify it’s protected to launch, land and function my drone.

I arrived on the dunes within the early hours of the morning with the intention of capturing the panorama with my drone. As I used to be strolling by way of the dunes I appeared up and noticed a cluster of smaller sand formations on a bigger dune with what appeared like some properly outlined areas of shadow and light-weight. I launched my drone, and as I flew over the dune, the peaks of those smaller natural varieties had been lit up fantastically by the early morning solar, and I made a decision to isolate sure areas within the body to create the summary picture you see right here.

Digicam Settings: ISO 125 – 70mm – F9.0 – 1/30sec

Certainly one of my favorite photographs from my Stockton Sand Dunes gallery (to date) is that this one. The sundown sky was completely beautiful, and as I used to be strolling round with my digital camera, I got here throughout this composition. I like how the wave-like formation of the sand dunes framed the crashing waves from the ocean within the distance.


Contributor Data – Deb Newton

An enormous thanks to Deb for sharing these insights into her many photographic journeys to those dunes. When you’d wish to see extra of her work, observe alongside through @_debbienewton on Instagram, or take a peek at her different guides and prints through
There’s an amazing in-depth article about exploring sand dunes right here, and Deb is at present engaged on ‘The Australian Sand Dunes Venture’, photographing sand dunes throughout Australia, along with her most up-to-date journey together with a camel trekking safari throughout the Simpson Desert! Take a look at the undertaking right here – @australiansanddunesproject



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