The desert is a barren and desolate place, but it has also been a fertile ground for landscape photographers and artists seeking inspiration in nature. Berlin-based graphic designer, web developer and landscape photographer Philipp Apler is yet another photographer who I’ve seen create something interesting that features the parched and empty terrain. In his series fittingly titled “Waves of Sand,” he makes a visually appealing use of black and white to draw our eyes to the abstract beauty of desert landscapes.
Some of you may remember Apler from our feature on his melancholy black and white series about a dying forest in Germany. “Waves of Sand” takes on a more dark and dramatic form in contrast to the bright and wispy style of his woodland series.
Amplifying abstraction through black and white
Depicting emptiness and inherent abstract quality is one of the effective ways that photographers like Apler work with desert landscapes. In “Waves of Sand,” he opted for black and white photos to emphasize these qualities. As we often see in monochrome images, the composition takes centerstage to simplify the scenes and bring our attention to specific details.
While I am usually drawn to color in landscape photography, I also find black and white to work nicely in amplifying the focus on the desert’s abstract elements. These include the slopes and shadows of the dunes, the ripples of sand and the variations in the topography. Black and white also allowed him to experiment with the contrast of light and shadow for more eye-catching and dramatic results.
A minimalist shape and texture study
Minimalism is another approach to landscape photography that I find fascinating, and this series is the latest to show exactly why. By going for a minimalist black and white style, Apler was able to create a clean and elegant study of the desert’s shapes and textures. Nature is full of wonderful and mesmerizing details, but it takes a good eye to portray it in a creative way.
While the title points to waves, the series also showcases the many different forms that desert landscapes can take. If you’re into more abstract visual styles for your landscape photography projects, I hope these photos also inspired you to take a closer look at all the details and forms present in your chosen location. If you’re thinking of dabbling into black and white landscape photography, I hope this series gave you some ideas as well.
All photos by Philipp Apler. Used with Creative Commons permission.