Wednesday, April 22, 2015

White Sands | After the Storm

I'll share a few more images from my February visit to White Sands, NM in this post. My schedule allowed for an afternoon and a couple of hours the next morning before heading back north to catch my flight.

One of the challenges of landscape photography is the oft conflict between what one visualizes before heading out to make images and the reality of what the conditions offer. In a larger sense, this had already come into play because my original plan was to go to the opposite corner of the state. Due to heavy snow storms after I arrived in New Mexico, I had to change plans and go south where the storms were forecast to be clearing. Once I knew I would drive 4 hours south instead of 4 hours north, I began to form some ideas what kind of photos I might seek to make. I knew afterwards I would be heading to the Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley for some Black and White work so I thought I would practice some of that at White Sands. That kind of image requires strong directional light either early or late in the day. The weather did not clear in time for that, so I changes mental gears to work with what nature gave me.

The lead image was captured just after the Park Ranger opened the gate at 7am. Due to the heavy rain the previous day, there was ample moisture in the desert to form thick fog at sunrise. I don't know, but I guess fog is not a common occurrence there. The golden light demanded I pull over on the way in and take a few quick shots hand held. No time to set up the tripod. I made three quick clicks and the show was over.

The preceding two images are stitched pans from the previous evening as the storm was beginning to move off to the east.

After sunrise, there were just a few clouds left on top of the bordering mountain ranges.White Sands spans many miles and people walk over quite a wide area. In order to get past most of the foot prints, you have to be prepared to walk over the dunes a mile or two at least. I just didn't have as much time to wander as far as I would like. Because the gate opens after sunrise and before sunset, there is not enough time to get into a "clean" track free area as one might like. Ideally for photography, camping in the dunes would be ideal. The last image, below, I took on the hike back to the car on the way out. The storm was gone, leaving blue skies behind.

I have had two very brief visits to White Sands now and I would like to someday return with the luxury of more time to explore this unique place. 


  1. I really like them all but love that first one. You might never visit and get conditions like that again. Really a unique shot!