Photograph by Frans Lanting
This has not been photoshoped.
“While on assignment in Namibia for National Geographic magazine, Frans Lanting captured this surreal landscape image in a location called Dead Vlei. Due to the nature of the lighting in the frame, the photograph appears almost like a painting. It was taken at dawn when the warm light of the morning sun was illuminating a huge red sand dune dotted with white grasses while the white floor of the clay pan was still in shade. It looks blue because it reflects the color of the sky above. Because of the contrast between the shady foreground and the sunlit background Lanting used a two-stop graduated filter, which reduced the contrast.
The perfect moment came when the sun reached all the way down to the bottom of the sand dune just before it reached the desert floor. Lanting used a long telephoto lens and stopped it all the way down to compress the perspective. The colors in the final printed image were true to the scene —the only technical adjustment made was the use of the graduated filter, which only reduces contrast but does not affect the colors of the scene.
This photo looks like a painting to so many people because of the intensity of the sunlight falling only on the dune in the distance, while the foreground is still in early morning shadow, so the trees are almost in silhouette. The dune, called Big Daddy, is almost 1,200 feet tall, and is an intense reddish-orange color, so it creates a mysterious backdrop.”
To read the full article and interview check out National Geographic.