This is our second day at White Sands National Monument and what a great two days we’ve had. We actually arrived late in the afternoon on the 28 November, but very strong winds prevented any photography, That being said, the wind had cleared all of the foot prints left by earlier visitors, so we had virgin sand to work with.
White Sands is a U.S. National Monument located about 15 miles Southwest of Alamogordo in the state of New Mexico. The area is in the mountain-ringed Tularosa valley area and comprises the southern part of a 275 sq mile field of white sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals.
As with Bosque del Apache, this was my second visit to White Sands and was one I had been looking forward to for some time. On this occasion I spent a lot more time within the interdune flats than on my previous visit, but I didn’t neglect the dunes altogether.
Photographing the white sand dunes and plants is best done an hour or so either side sunrise and sunset as the lighting casts long shadows and adds colour where virtually none exists. The following are a small sample of images taken over this past two days.
Yucca and Shadow
Yucca and Dune Grasses
Dune Grass and Shadow
Evening Light in Dunes
Sunset Cloud Patterns and Dunes
Morning Light in Dunes
Cottonwood Tree in Dunes
Twilight in Interdune Flats
We’ve been in Socorro three days now and the photography at Bosque del Apache is excellent.
Bosque del Apache, which means “woods of the Apache” in Spanish was originally named for the people who often camped in the riverside forest. Today, it is more widely known as one of the most spectacular Refuges in North America. The refuge straddles the Rio Grande Valley in Socorro County, New Mexico, and covers some 57,000 acres. Here, tens of thousands of birds including sandhill cranes, snow geese, and many kinds of ducks -gather each autumn and stay through the winter. Snow geese erupt in explosions of wings when frightened by a stalking coyote. At dawn and dusk, flight after flight of geese and cranes can be seen flying between specially prepared corn fields and their roosting areas in the marshes.
The following images are just a small selection of the many species of birds that I’ve managed to photograph over the past three days.
Snow Goose Preparing for Take-off
Sandhill Cranes at Take-off
Snow Geese in Flight at Sunrise
Sandhill Crane in Flight
Red-tailed Hawk in Flight
Great Blue Heron
Snow Goose in Flight
Equipment used included: Canon EOS 7D and 5D Mark II with Canon 100-400mm f4.5/5.6 L IS Zoom lens and Canon 400mm f5.6 L telephoto lens. All images were shot in raw mode and processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. Lightroom 3’s new noise reduction algorithms were particularly helpful in dealing with the luminance noise present in images shot at high ISO values (i.e. 800 and higher). Where necessary image retouching Adobe Photoshop CS5.
We awakened on day 3 (Thanksgiving) to discover that it had snowed overnight. Needless to say, this added even more interest to the old cars that are strategically parked around the Wigwam Motel.
Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona
This would be our last day travelling along Route 66. So, we spent an hour or so photographing the cars before setting off on our journey to Socorro, New Mexico.
Old Car, Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona
The journey between Holbrook and Socorro at just under 190 miles was fairly long and for the most part uninteresting. That being said, one of the few locations worth photographing was the radio telescopes making up the Very Large Array at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory near Magdalena, New Mexico.
Very Large Array, Plains of San Augustin, New Mexico
Day 2 continues our journey along Route 66 across the state border into Arizona. Our journey ended in Holbrook, but along the way we took a minor detour into the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Parks.
The parks are a surprising land of fascinating features, which includes one of the worlds largest and most colourful concentrations of petrified wood, and the badlands of the Chinale Formation known as the Painted Desert.
The Tepees, Painted Desert National Park, Arizona
Petrified Wood, Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Our resting place for the night in Holbrook was the Wigwam Motel. This was quite a fortunate choice as it provided an interesting foreground to a spectacular sunset.
Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, Arizona