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natural sand sculpture

natural sand sculpture
Photo Information
Copyright: Bob Harrison (BobH) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 40 W: 8 N: 192] (650)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2004-02-14
Categories: Ocean
Camera: Olympus 700C UZ
Exposure: f/3.5, 1/100 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Abstract Nature [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2009-03-08 5:01
Viewed: 8588
Points: 6
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
More from my archives today showing some abstract art in the natural medium of frozen sand.

The images are two sides of the same small beach stream, just a couple of meters apart. The stream is the same one as described in my previous post of frozen sand cliffs, but the location is a few meters downstream, in the middle of the tidal range. The day was frigid, below -20C at dawn. The low sun angle of the time just after dawn is evident in the slight warm coloration of the right facing edges. This was the only suggestion of warmth that morning.

The stream's sculpting was done in the few hours of low tide before dawn, when the air was the coldest and the waves could not reach this far up the beach. The extreme cold allows the frozen sand to maintain its rigidity even though it has been completely undercut by the running water. Only one place, the upper left of the right image, shows evidence of drooping by the undercut sand shelf. The tip of that overhang is being reclaimed by the stream, but all the other delicate looking projections remain cantilevered above the flowing water.

The most intriguing part of the undercutting is the holes, which must have been bored from below by the flowing water (but how did they end up so nice and round?). The scale (same for both sides) is visible in the right frame courtesy of a small seagull feather in the center foreground and a few pieces of seaweed. The smaller holes in both frames are pencil to finger sized.

Because of their location within the tidal range, these intricate carvings were washed away well before noon and were missed by any beach walkers who waited for warmer temperatures. My experience suggests that temperatures somewhat higher than these (but still well below freezing) do not allow the rigidity of the frozen sand, and so do not make these interesting forms. As for so many of my winter pictures, colder is better.

Imagine the implications for humans doing sand sculptures in the winter!

tech notes- some shadow lightening, substantial contrast added, one step sharpening for both sides, slight increase in total saturation to highlight the sun-illuminated edges

Heaven, tuslaw has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To Heaven: abstractsBobH 2 03-09 15:32
To tuslaw: your reactionBobH 1 03-09 12:25
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Bob!

I like these abstract pictures very much, although I would prefer to present them individually. But this is very personal.

The shapes and patterns, but also the colour tones and the lighting are superb. The forms and shapes created by the water really seem to be modern art sculptures. I also appreciate the very detailed and pleasant notes.

Kind regards


  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2009-03-08 19:34]
  • [+]

Very interesting image Bob,
I would never have guessed this was sand!! When I first clicked on your photo I thought it was a mud flow from the hot springs out in Yellowstone.
Amazing what water can do as it erodes material away!! Nice work capturing this odd occurrence!! Great notes!

Hello Bob,
I'm having great fun looking through your gallery. There are so many really good 'arty' shots here I hardly know where to begin.
This one made me think of a similar one of mine that might be to your taste.
It is a sand sculpture made by water trickling down a beach. You can see it here

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