Great Sandhills, Saskatchewan, Canada by Scott Aspinall

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Picture Story

Saskatchewan is home to a diverse prairie landscape. This is very true when you venture into the southwest. Home to Cypress Hills, Grasslands National Park, and the Great Sandhills; this corner of Saskatchewan is home to some great photographic potential. I had visited the Great Sandhills in 2018 with a friend and was struck by its rugged beauty. In places, sand stretched out to the horizon; it felt nothing like the Saskatchewan I knew. At the time, though, I had a very different photographic approach. Focusing on wide scenics, I didn't even have a telephoto lens in my bag.

That mindset has shifted recently to a focus on smaller, more intimate landscapes, so I determined to head back to this nature preserve with a different perspective. I was curious if I could make a compelling image that could show the world this "flat" prairie province in a unique way. So, in May of 2020, I planned a weekend trip out this way and was met with some incredibly windy conditions. After getting sandblasted during my first day there, I hiked the few miles back to the car, sleeping in the vehicle that night. I woke up at 4 AM the following morning and hiked the few kilometres out to the main dunes for sunrise. For a brief moment, the sun broke through and illuminated the clouds and dunes, allowing me to photograph a nice wide scene. But as soon as the light exploded, it quit. The sun ducked back behind clouds and it remained there for a couple of hours. During this time, I wandered the dunes, looking for some abstract photos and came across this scene where three dunes merged that disorients the viewer. I waited for the sun to pop through the clouds and when it did, snapped this photo.

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