Mary’s Top Photos of 2016

Winter sunset in Tucson

Winter sunset in Tucson

What a great exercise to look back at a year’s worth of images, re-live the moments when I pushed the shutter, and reflect on the variety of experiences I had.  Every year when Peter asks me (or rather forces me) to do this, I always think “I didn’t really shoot much this year that would make my top 10”.  When I had gathered 25 images and was still adding I realized that I rarely left home with out a camera (or two) in hand.  I think maybe I will post a top 10 iPhone photos of the year too! Continue reading


Photographing White Sands, New Mexico


You have to hike a bit to make a photo of the dunes without footprints.

The White Sands National Monument is 300 square miles of a white gypsum dune field located in Southern New Mexico between Las Cruces and Alamogordo.  It is the largest gypsum dune field in the world.  Mary and I have photographed here a half dozen times as her parents live nearby.  Here are a few photos and hints. Continue reading

Photographing sand dunes

White Sands New Mexico

White Sands New Mexico

Peter and I have been fortunate to visit many different types of sand dunes.  Some of our favorites are the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley, the Great Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado near Alamosa, and White Sands in New Mexico near Las Cruces.  We visited White Sands over the holiday weekend on a beautiful (and photographically challenging) sunny day.  I decided to use a very long telephoto lens and see if I could capture light and shadow from the different shapes of the dunes.  It was difficult. Continue reading

Photographing the Oceano Sand Dunes Near Pismo Beach

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The Oceano sand dunes have been a destination for photographers for many years.  Edward Weston and Ansel Adams were two of the first great photographers to recognize the beauty of this area.  The dunes are part of a CA State Park that includes an area for hiking and walking and another one for driving off-road vehicles.  Here is what you might see. Continue reading

Photographing the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

White Sands Sunset February 4, 2012 (High Dynamic Range Composite)

The White Sands National Monument is a 300 square mile white gypsum dune field located in Southern New Mexico between Las Cruces and Alamogordo.  It is the largest gypsum dune field in the world.  It is the result of an ancient lake that dried up millions of years ago leaving the mineral deposits behind.  There are three types of dunes here – dome, parabolic, and transverse-barchan.  Each looks and feels different as you walk on them.  Consult the park map for the different fields.  Here are a few key shots to get while you are visiting. Continue reading

A Weekend in Death Valley National Park

Badwater Sunrise Reflection

We have been to Death Valley, CA the last two Decembers and plan to go again this year, weather and schedule permitting.  The trips were very different, both for how the Valley looked, but also how we planned and approached the trip and how our photography skills changed from 2009 to 2010.

Death Valley is a place of extremes.  It is the largest National Park in the contiguous United States.  It includes Badwater Basin, at 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.  It is the hottest place in  the USA with summer temperatures reaching 120 degrees.  Many sites in Death Valley invoke evil or the devil:  Dantes View, Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, Devil’s Cornfield, and Furnace Creek to name a few. Continue reading

How to Photograph Sand

White Sands, New Mexico

This is a boring title, but a very exciting subject.  Mary and I have done several trips where we have had the opportunity to photograph different kinds of sand.  In this blog, I want to outline a few of the major issues you will face as you try to make good sand photographs and some suggestions around composition.  After a bit of experience, you will see that sand comes in many colors, for example, Death Valley sand is white-ish gray; White Sands, New Mexico is snow-white gypsum; and Monument Valley sand is a burnt orange.  Here is how to capture the color and texture of sand. Continue reading