Critique A Friendly Local Amongst the Dunes

Joined
May 1, 2006
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A while ago, while driving to Dubai from the oasis town of Al Ain, UAE, I stopped to take pictures of the towering sand dunes just outside Al Ain.

While Hollywood has contrived to give everyone the impression that deserts are typified by rolling sand dunes, the reality is the Sand Deserts, or Ergs, to use the technical term, are pretty rare and are often scattered in patches within the more typical stony deserts.

The largest continuous Erg in the world however covers most of the south of the Arabian Peninsula and Al Ain sits on the fringes of this sea of sand evocatively called the Rhub Al Khali (The Empty Quarter).

As I tentatively stopped my rental saloon, off the main road on a compacted sand track, this local Emirati guy, having some fun "dune bashing" in his 4x4, stopped to have a chat.

D200 @ ISO 100
AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55mm
1/100 @ f/11
ON1 PhotoRaw
AB-3-SW_ON1-A copy.jpg
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He even gave me a hair raising spin up and down the dunes while expounding on the the merits of the Toyota FJ Cruiser, compared to other 4x4 vehicles, when it comes to extricating a vehicle stuck in soft sand without needing a tow from another vehicle.

Sure enough, we got stuck in some soft sand and I was suitably impressed with his off road driving skills, and the FJ Cruiser, as he wriggled it free using some kind of sideways crabbing movement.

Despite his limited English and my nonexistent Arabic, I let him know I was going to move the FJ Cruiser up my list of vehicles for whenever I decide to take up residence in the Rhub Al Khali.

I took a shot of the car as he drove back into the dunes.

D200 @ ISO 100
AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8 @ 55mm
1/125 @ f/11
ON1 PhotoRaw

Version 1
AB-3-SX_ON1-b copy.jpg
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Version 2
AB-3-SX_ON1-a copy.jpg
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I tried to capture the scale of the dunes relative to the vehicle. Not sure if it truly comes across though. Also not sure of the two conversions. Leaning towards Version 1 though.
 
Last edited:
R

Ray Vonn

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You certainly get a sense of being there and you captured the scene very well. Which is tough to do. I'm often told of many places that are nigh on impossible to capture with a camera as you see it, such as Borneo for example.
 
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The environmental portrait is really nice for many reasons including its novel composition.

For people not familiar with the area, the color of the desert is helpful information. So, I would probably go with that version of the automobile for that reason and because the car stands out more in that version. Consider cropping to eliminate the foreground white area.

Your information about the rarity of deserts made of soft sand is new to me and makes me feel especially glad that in 1990 I got to walk in the soft sands of the Sahara in Morocco.
 
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Very much appreciate the feedback. Cropped Version 1 below
AB-3-SX_ON1-b copy 2.jpeg
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Loved the description of your visit to this desert region. As to your image, I am going to disagree with the others in that I like the uncropped and colored version #1. It gives a stronger feel of isolation and as Nick said, foreboding.
 
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Thanks. I can see the merits of both preferences. I personally think I should have gotten a bit lower down but the sand was piping hot!!
 
Joined
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Messages
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I wouldn't crop so much, if the image was mine I would crop only the half of the white area in the FG.
Thanks for the suggestion Binnur. Tried this below.

AB-3-SX_ON1-b copy 4.jpeg
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