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:
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.
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:
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.