Love at First Light: A photo essay from White Sands National Monument

Alamogordo, New Mexico: Marty and I rose at 5:00 a.m. and after oatmeal and coffee, we drove to White Sands National Monument. We turned into the gate and chatted briefly with the ranger, a brusque fellow who could have benefitted from oatmeal and coffee. The road into the park was white, so were the dunes. White Sands is home to the largest gypsum dunes in the world.

We pulled over and parked. A snowplow rumbled down the middle of the road, scraping the gypsum “snow” into a peaked centerline. I zipped my jacket against the chill, grabbed my sunglasses and camera, and stepped onto the cornstarch-like dunes in search of grasses, shrubs, animal tracks–something to put into the lovely light.

I love photographing like this: Being open to possibilities with no agenda. I feel big, expanded, guided, and filled with joy. Just my camera and me, enjoying God’s world. As you look at these images, perhaps you can feel the joy, too.

black, silhouette, photo, portrait, tripod, photographer

Marty taking a picture of me and my tripod.

B&W, landscape, yucca, black, white, clouds

Clouds bend down to meet the curve of the dunes and grasses.

portrait, scale, people, white, sands, national, monument, New Mexico

The sands have moved on, exposing this yucca’s roots. Soon it will fall over and die.

image, photo, composition, view, perspective, travel, white, sands

There are times when elbows make the best tripod!

B&W, yucca, portrait, landscape, perspective, white, sands, national, monument

A black and white version of the image above. Which do you like best?

white, sands, national, monument, gypsum, white, New Mexico, travel

What looked like sea anemones are actually stubs of dead plants.

yucca, white, sands, national monument, landscape, B&W

A soaptree yucca plant shares the sky with clouds and light.

B&W, black, white, landscape, yucca, white, sands, national, monument, light, clouds

When the sun poked through the clouds, it changed the landscape. Time to play with shadows.

May you have a blessed day.

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12 Responses to Love at First Light: A photo essay from White Sands National Monument

  1. Deb Houlden-Engvall says:

    I’m between tax returns! I loooooovvvve White Sands National Monument. I’ve been there 3 times. Love it!

  2. Velda says:

    Fun knowing you are in the lower 48! Enjoy your trip. Velda in Roseville CA

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. debba1853 says:

    My son and his family lived in New Mexico and it’s a great place for photo ops!  We went to White Sands during a moon walk, when it was so bright, you were supposed to be able to see newsprint.  It is such an incredible place!  My grandson loved running around and playing with his toy trucks, when he should have been in bed.Thanks for sharing your beautiful pics, as always.  I like the b&w versions the best, as they really showcase the starkness.

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

    • marionowen says:

      Wow, Deb… and I really love the visual fun-ness of your son playing with his toy trucks. So, so wonderful. Thank you very much for sharing such a deLIGHTful account.

  4. Candy Falatko says:

    Love these, Marion. We’ve visited so it brought back old memories. I have a wonder photo of our son, Ethan at about 4 years of age (he’s 47 now) and a friend on a sunny day flying down the dunes with excited smiles in red and blue t-shirts against all the white with a blue sky. Much different day then when you visited. Love watching the joy of your travels.


    • marionowen says:

      Thanks, Candy. I’m enjoying people’s comments involving kids playing in the dunes. What a fun memory. I hope to go back there again; maybe for night photos. Either way, I’ll find something that inspires me. Hugs to you!

  5. Sharon says:

    Absolutely beautiful photos. Seem other worldly!

  6. Colleen says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I love the black and white! You are truly a talented photographer.

    • marionowen says:

      Thanks, Colleen. I’m partial to the B&W, too. I find myself going back to that. Maybe has to do with thinking of all those hours of creating in the darkroom.

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