A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

White Sands National Monument

This is one of those places I have always wanted to see. There is no camping in the monument so we had to stay in Alamogordo, 16 miles away. The gates opened at 7 am and that pretty well ruled out any sunrise photo, not that I could have got out of bed early enough and made it anyway. The time zone difference was really playing havoc with this California boy. I arrived there before 8 and drove in on the eight mile long road.
I made stops for a photo at most every pullout there was, hoping to get good pictures with the early light and no people around. Most every dune still held the residual footprints of the previous days, so it meant a bit of a walk inland to find any virgin ground.
The further on I drove, the further I had to walk in for a picture. People would let their dog out and allow it to run free, romping up and down the dunes ruining good photo opportunities. Even if a dune was a place where people would not want to walk due to the difficulty, there would still be dog prints. Worst still, was the dog crap left behind at every stop. I had to be careful where I stepped. It was really sad.
I started out with a clean lens (amazing, I know) and was unaware of the fine grains of sand gradually clinging to the glass, mucking up my pictures throughout the day. I should have been cleaning it every time before a photo. Also, I was using my polarizing filter which now I don't think was a good idea. A lot of my pictures turned out to be what I was almost stepping into at each stop.
The same image in black and white. I think black and white works well at White Sands. Most all the professional images for sale at the visitors center were in black and white.
At the road's end was a trail leading out to Alkali Lake. There isn't really a trail, you follow these markers in the sand. I walked with this couple for a couple of miles. It was a cold wind blowing and I had multiple layers on. The guy had on a t-shirt and shorts. I said "You folks must be from Canada." I was too far off.
They were from Maine.
Upon cresting another tall dune and seeing no lake in the far off distance, I parted company with them and went back to eat lunch. I've seen enough alkali lakes anyway. Later I discovered the so-called lake was a dry mud pan and still several more miles away.
More sand speckled pictures tomorrow


  1. you and your camera were just really getting into the subject matter. :) better sand than dog poo!

  2. Gorgeous photos of a very interesting place.

  3. I'm awestruck at these photos. that first one especially. and then the second and third. the second one looks 3 dimensional, it's really trippy. I love it. all of them are fantastic shots. you ought to be pleased with these. the black and whites are moody and introspective. I think these may be my faves so far. with the exception of any Sinbad photos of course. too bad about all the dog crap, but it's not the dog's fault, it's the owners! Cats are so much cleaner...

  4. Very interesting post. We have always wanted to stop here, too. Great photos. Would a comment card to the powers that be help any? Be careful of sand. I ruined a camera once with the tiny grains of sand at Punta Chivato, Mexico. I later paid good money to have it cleaned because the manual zoom would not work. It worked a while, then quit again soon after the cleaning. I turned it into a doorstop.

  5. Glad you were aware of the "speckles" on your lens. Were you able to see the spots when editing? Curious.

    I LOVE #3 and #6. Agree that the black and white is best of sand. Looks like a good print to me. Fun seeing what you post on this road trip. Keep em coming...

  6. White Sands is wonderful in the Winter with patches of snow around. Makes for great b&w shots. Sunrise pics can be had but you have to camp out with special groups. Then you can camp out and get up first thing to capture some great morning photos.


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