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Nice shot and interesting and fun to think about. What time of day? Where is this beach? When do the people appear? How was the sand cleaned and the footprints removed? And of course the big question, were you permitted to be where you were when you took the picture?
What time of day? Around 7:45 am. Started shooting around 6:00, but did a couple of other spots first, so it was later than I would have wished, with the sun already too high.
This beach is Deauville, in Normandy. Swank resort, with a famous film festival. Shooting it empty while in high season was one of the attractions.
People began to show in the streets around 9:am. At the beach probably at least one hour later
To clean the sand, they run machines throughout the beach. I actually had to hurry to avoid having any of them in the picture.
Yes, it was 100% legal. In France, the beach is public property by law. While hotels and such may have concessions to use it, they cannot close it off to the public.
Here is what I was shooting earlier on in the day.
And thanks for the nice words! BTW, your own shot (last in the triplet on the previous page) just dropped my jaw.
NEX-7 ---- lens 1/160s 100 ISO 0.0 EV