Located just 10 minutes from Nelson Bay, NSW are the largest Sand Dunes in Australia – covering a huge 4,200 hectares of Stockton Bight. I recently discovered the area while on a trip and had the chance to explore for a while. If you ever have the chance to go, there will be lots of adventurous things to choose from, including quad biking, 4×4 tours, camel riding, and of course the beach, which stretches into the horizon. However, for me, it provided one of the most unique landscapes I’ve been able to photograph from my iPhone.
A lot of my inspiration came from a photographer in Australia named Emma Philips who became part of the creative Start Something New campaign, where she photographed the Australian desert. She chose edit her photos with Darkroom, an iPhone app I have recently come across. For me, I wanted to capture this vast landscape of sand directly from my iPhone and learn more about how I can edit my photos in Darkroom.
The Sand Dunes
The sand dunes themselves are located in the Port Stephens area at Stockton Beach, but sometimes are known as the Anna Bay Sand Dunes because the small coastal town of Anna Bay sits just to the north of them.
When you get there you will soon realise how massive this landscape really is, the beach itself is about 32km in length with the sand dunes (just behind the beach) stretching as far as the eye can see. These sand dunes roll, move up and down in the horizon, and can reach up to 30 metres in height.
Editing in Darkroom
The Darkroom app, a free app for iPhone allows you edit your photos in a number of ways; from preset filters, custom filters you can create, and by applying advanced adjustments.
Key features of the app include infinite undo history, a variety of filters, but one of the main unique features is the fact you don’t need to import photos – the app will let you simply edit the photos from your iPhone photo library, which then automatically syncs across all your devices. This meant once I was finished photographing the sand dunes I was able to immediately edit them, and not have to worry about importing photos into an app and dealing with duplicate later down the track.
Darkroom 2 is a mature, full-featured photo editor that truly brings the power of professional photo editing within the grasp of the casual mobile photographer.
The app’s Pro Kit features are what really stands out in the app, but unfortunately they’re not free. However, they can be worth the purchase as they provide increased functionality and bring more advanced editing your photos.
Pro Kit Features:
- Curves — Capture the perfect tone with the easiest to use and most accurate Curves editor on iOS
- Color — Create emotion by adjusting the hue, saturation, and luminance of each color separately
- Filter Sharing – Create, Edit, then Share your filters with the community. All filters link back to your Instagram account so you get followers as your filters spread!
- Tone — a split tone tool that gives you access to the entire color spectrum.
My Process Using Dark Room
When editing photos, I like to keep the process minimal and not alter the original photo too far beyond a few basic adjustments. For example, the sand looked darker than what I would have liked, or how I believe it appeared to look in real life, so I increased the brightness and contrast, while decreasing the saturation – this flattened the photo, which made the sky look more exposed and not as stark against the landscape.
The presets included (and available to purchase in-app) are dynamic and useful for achieving many different looks. They can be adjusted so that they are not as harsh or obvious. Part of the fun is creating your own filters using the different processing tools at your disposal – it saves the hassle of having to individually edit each photo every time, and also helps distinguish a certain aesthetic or uniformity.