Here is something we can learn from SDey about the techniques and story behind this awarded photo shot at the Mesquite Sand Dunes in the Death Valley National Park in California. "I have been to Mesquite dunes a few times before, but always under calm conditions. However, stepping inside those intense conditions made me see the dunes in a new light. The sand particles flying off dunes catch the light and reflect them in ways that is not possible to see without the high winds. Also, depending on the direction and the speed of the wind, the light and patterns change by the minute. The whole scene is very dynamic offering multiple opportunities to catch the same scene in different ways."

Enjoy the following tips and give it a shot yourself!

1. First and foremost, cover yourself in every possible way (use hats, full sleeve shirts, full pants, etc.). Sand gets everywhere and it is not a pleasant experience when sand starts hitting the skin. Before you enter the dunes, change to the lens you will be using. It is very difficult to change the lens when sand is flying everywhere.

"Dancing in the Storm" by Sangeeta_Dey_Photography

2. I recommend a long lens so that you have the capability to zoom in to capture the action in details. It is hard to walk on sand during normal conditions, but during high winds it is even more strenuous because of winds and visibility. Therefore, a long lens might even help you capture a scene faster than it would take you to walk to the scene.

3. Be prepared to be disappointed when seeing photographs at the back of your LCD screens as you are shooting; it is very hard to understand if the photographs you are capturing are properly focussed because of reduced visibility.

4. Finally, make sure all pockets of your camera bags are properly zippered. Trust me, even after all these precautions, you will be find sand in the deepest pockets of your clothes and bags. Most importantly, have fun.

Gear: Camera: Nikon D810; Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm; Tripod: Really Right Stuff

What inspired you to take this photo?

I was the kind of person who would sit inside the car or in a comfortable restaurant sipping cappuccino while waiting for the storm to subside. After all, I didn't want to get my hair messy or get my shoes dirty. While I have always been an outdoorsy person, the thought of getting inside sand dunes during high winds was like giving a cat a bath. However, as we heard about high winds approaching, I decided to join my companions to see why photographers rejoice shooting during desert storm.


Also, besides my fellow photographers, not having a single soul in the entire desert made me realize how much fun it is to shoot during these conditions when everyone has left. There are some things in life that you can only learn in a storm.

Standing in Motion by Sangeeta_Dey_Photography

Did you do any post-processing?

This is a single exposure. As for post processing, I adjusted the highlights, shadows and contrasts. Also, made color adjustments to bring out the mood of the scene as well as highlight the flying sand so as to accentuate the light on it.

"The Court of Moon" by Sangeeta_Dey_Photography

7. What do you carry in your camera bag?

Besides main camera body (D810), I have the holy trinity (Nikkor:14-24; 24-70; and 70-200mm). A polarizer, a few ND filters, remote shutter, spare batteries, and multiple lens cleaners. Also, I always carry a few plastic grocery bags that I use as coverups when changing lenses during precarious conditions so as to minimize damage to the sensor. Finally, my trusted RRS tripod goes everywhere with me.