Our one White Sands sunset was a bust to shoot in that the fires around the state were making the atmosphere far more hazy than it normally would have been, so the haze blocked the sunset as the sun would have normally dropped below the incoming monsoon clouds. So we opted for some camel shots of Michele (below) which has turned into kind of a thing now:
That said, there’s something about White Sands that I can’t get enough of that I had forgotten about until the very second I stepped out onto the sand. I’ve only been there twice, both times in the summer during monsoon season. The sand is warm and moist, and is the most subtle color of blue during sunset. The contrast of the jagged mountains that surround the area and the blue of the sky, mixed with the absolute silence (since you are out in the incredible middle of a vast nowhere) is overwhelming at first. It’s like Death Valley in that regard, the only sound is the satisfying crackle of your boot sole breaking through the day’s shallow crust that forms after a heavy rain (which happens twice a day during the summer at White Sands, but only happens in remote places of Death Valley where others haven’t walked in a while.)
It’s a wet warm, and ‘magical’ is the only the word I could think of while we sat on a small hill overlooking the rest of the dunes to the west, which oddly felt so much like north. I never have had luck acclimating myself to the poles in this area. Below is a natural white sand structurey thing that formed probably when wind/erosion swept all the loose sand around it away.
It’s about six feet tall, and very unstable.
The one thing that kept barging in on these moments of solitude and peacefulness were these goddamned sentinel insects that kept trying to bully us off that hill. There was a nest nearby of some small black fly/hornet of some sort. They 5-6 guards outside the nest drove away everything else that came near them – including us at first. We went scrambling back down the hill and watched them go back to the one bush in the entire area to then fight off a hummingbird. We slowly crept back up the hill, being quiet and moving slowly (we weren’t sure if our smell, movement, vibration or sounds were tipping them off). Deet also helped.
The photo below is HDR, but for some reason the processing on it created a weird shadow-halo around Michele. I’m unsure why that happened; I haven’t bothered to fix it in Photoshop yet.
Regarding the bug drone strikes though, I guess if you have one bush among hundreds of hills to make your home, it’s fair that you don’t want clumsy mammals (or anything else) near your space. Practically everything in the desert has been trained for warfare and hosts some sort of poison or stinger, so we were careful to sit about 20 yards away for sunset after we climbed back up. We shot some HDR shots and some timed portraits of ourselves being goofy.
Overall, it was a great sunset, just…without the sunset.