Fantastical Creatures in Clouds of Dutch Sand

When you’re a kid, a cloud can look as much like a dragon as a floating mass of water vapor. Even as adults, no one is immune to the magic moment when a random gathering of molecules morphs into fantastical animals or familiar forms. It’s a hallmark of the childlike, playful interaction with the world that we too often lose with age, and it is what makes Claire Droppert’s photos of flying beach sand so fetching.


In the first installment of her Gravity series, the Rotterdam-based photographer and designer captures thrown shovelfuls of sand midway through their aerial arcs. Her photos, taken only with natural light and fast shutter speeds, reveal sharp forms and bold strokes of movement. The vague shapes–Is that a rabbit? A seahorse?–suggest animals peeking into our world from a parallel dimension. Once you start seeing them this way, it’s hard to stop.


Droppert was walking on the shores of a Dutch beach 13 months ago when a spray of sand kicked up by her daughter caught her attention. Droppert was fascinated by the way in which the morning light framed the explosion of sand against the sky and started trying to capture the effect in pictures.

“I began to see these sorts of creatures rising from some of the images,” she says. “Then I started seeing creatures popping up all over.“

You can buy her prints here. 

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