White Sands, New Mexico by Laura Zirino

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Picture Story

I traveled from San Diego, CA to White Sands New Mexico in late July hoping to shoot thunderstorms. As so frequently happens, the thunderstorms dissipated after my arrival. On this day the skies were clearing and it was hot, as in 95F, and I wasn't too optimistic about the conditions. I hiked into the dunes in the late afternoon to see what would find me. I should have had more faith, because White Sands is magical, no matter what the conditions. The heat was getting to me, and in the middle of nowhere appeared a lone cottonwood tree. I sat in its shade, set up my tripod (still sitting) and decided to see what things looked like through my 70-200MM lens.

Keep in mind that I was sitting in the middle of an enormous dune field and seeing things wide, so telephoto was a completely new view. This small yucca plant was part of several about a quarter mile away, but I isolated it against the beautiful curve of the white dunes, and when the sun set the horizon glowed vivid pink. Minimalism looks simple, but to me finding something simple in an enormous, wide view is the most difficult thing of all. White Sands might be my favorite place to shoot because there is so much freedom to create there, so much you can interpret because there is no shot you are "supposed" to take, as in some of the iconic locations. Any season will give you magical colors and an unforgettable experience.


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