Storm before the calm at White Sands

New Mexico is home to some rather beautiful wide open spaces. As you drive through this state the horizon is larger than normal, the sky is taller and the clouds are grander. Somewhat like Namibia, although Namibia is the king of all wide open spaces on this planet. And the king of sand dunes, the 10-15 meter tall dunes of White Sands in New Mexico are tiny baby dunes compared to the 3-400 meter tall dunes of Namibia.

White Sands National Monument is so named because it is a huge desert area of…white sand. Fitting name. I had the pleasure of spending 4 very different days here. First two days it was fiercely windy with very strong wind gusts. The sky above White Sands was white with sand sucked up from the desert, the air so thick with sand you could barely see the horizon and the sand so fierce on my skin and camera it made for challenging but fun shooting. It also made for some incredible images from White Sands that you do not normally see. It is hard to convey in a still image how strong the wind is so I have some video as well, we’ll see if I ever get around to editing it. Here’s an attempt at showing the sand sucked up into the air off the dunes. This is the sort of shot where a wide angle works in sand dunes:

White Sands sand storm - blog

At sunset the light was like nothing I have seen in images from White Sands. All the sand in the air reflected the golden setting sun and it was quite a special moment. For sand dunes a good zoom is essential and will get used more than a wide angle, you want to zoom in and capture lines and patterns and this is shot with my 100-400mm Canon L Lens which I am finding works quite good.

White Sands glow at sunset -blog

Finally, I usually go to great lengths to avoid people in my landscapes, but in this case these two bystanders actually stood in a perfect spot:

staring at the sun - blog

The last two days at White Sands were the exact opposite. No wind at all at White Sands, completely calm. The place and the colours are completely different on days like. Made it a lot more pleasant to hike, explore and relax in the sand but for photography the dramatic wind beats the calm.

12 Comments on “Storm before the calm at White Sands”

  1. Yeah love it Flemming, hope your taking care of your gear! I`ve got an image similar to the bottom image and always been able to put myself in the place and drift away but your shot just kills it. Thanks mate

  2. Tænk , at I er in the Southwest, den mest storslåede del af US, var der for 40 år siden , boede i Sedona,(artcenter), så the Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, a ghost town, Indian Gathering i August, jeg svømmede helt hen, da jeg så dine billeder, selv om det ikke var de helt samme steder. Fortsat god tur, nyd det. hilsen Mette(ChiangMai)

  3. I'm normally a little too busy to comment on photos, in fact I think this is my first blog comment but you've been getting some great shots lately and the 3rd. dune one is a cracker. Well done!

    Regard's, Col.

  4. Really enojyed those last two photos, but especially the one with the people in it. I usually go to great lengths to avoid people, also, but i'm finding more often now that people can add a nice foreground subject sometimes.

  5. Great work as usual at both white sands and the park. Just wish your route from white sands to Lake Powell passed thru Sedona. Zane Paxton and his wife just finished a two day visit here. Can't wait to see what you come up with for Sedona. We will be out of here the first week in May.

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