I've often noticed patterns in the sand at Drift Inn, but only recently made systematic attempts to capture them, and to process and transform the resulting images. It's obvious that markings in the intertidal sands are infinitely varied: the canvas of the sands is renewed as each incoming tide wipes the slate clean twice a day, and the outflow of fresh water onto the beach creates new patterns as each tide recedes. The dynamics of flow and deposition are certainly complex: darker material suspended in the fresh water is deposited when the energy of moving water falls below the level sufficient to carry the load. The upstream flow is dependent on inland rain and meltwater from snow and ice. There is a marvelous randomness expressed in the resulting patterns.
Where the rate of flow is sufficient to erode the beach sand, eddies appear in the flowing fresh water. If the sun is out, delightfully chaotic golden patterns manifest in the surface of the water.
The sand at Drift Inn is a medium grey; the image straight out of the camera is therefore low contrast, so the processing requires a fair bit of ad hoc twiddling in Lightroom:
add Contrast, add Texture, Clarity, and Dehaze, perhaps add Vibrance, perhaps adjust Saturation and Luminance for specific colors. Add Sharpen. (A minimum, YMMV, so just keep fiddling until it "looks right"; I've sometimes used Aperture in addition, to further increase Contrast and make other fine adjustments.)
Some images are obvious candidates for transformation by mirroring, for which I use GIMP, and then pass the resulting image back to Lightroom for further tweakage. It's all very seat-of-the-pants, just a matter of getting the result to speak clearly. Some images never do find their voice, but others are startling: a world you never imagined when the shutter was pressed is revealed, yours to decode and parse.
Here's a gallery of sand photographs, the most recently taken first, then back through earlier attempts: