richgreene
richgreene

Yucca it up at White Sands



A quick stop at White Sands National Monument on our way to a family wedding. A definite return trip is in order. Funny, I grew up in New Mexico, but never made...
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A quick stop at White Sands National Monument on our way to a family wedding. A definite return trip is in order. Funny, I grew up in New Mexico, but never made it here when I lived in the state.
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Great Shot
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3 Comments | Report
Anba
 
Anba April 24, 2014
Congrats!, Stunning capture!
Sanmi
 
Sanmi May 05, 2014
Beautiful photo, excellent work, well edited.
Greetings.
ethanwallace
 
ethanwallace May 08, 2014
Beautiful!

Behind The Lens

Location
I took this at one of the world's great natural wonders; White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico. White Sands is the world's largest gypsum dune field. As one drives through the park, and everywhere you look are glistening white dunes. Walking in it is like walking in baby powder; it's much softer than typical sand dunes one would find in places like Death Valley in the USA or Africa.
Time
It was late afternoon; not an ideal time for the best light. T
Lighting
As I said above it was late afternnon. Shadows were beginning to form on the dunes, and in the ripples on the sand. It was hazy, cloudless sky; not very interesting at all -- and worse, I was on a tight timeframe. I had to be in Las Cruces, about 60 miles away by 8pm that evening, so I wasn't going to the chance to shoot under the best lighting conditions, so I tried to make the best of what time I did havek. I did have a CPL on my lens, which darkened the sky nicely.
Equipment
I shot this with a Nikon D7000, a Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5 lens, at f/11 and 1/400th of a second, on a Manfrotto tripod.
Inspiration
I grew up in, and spent over two decades of my life in New Mexico, but had never been to White Sands National Monument in all that time. It only took nearly another thirty years (well, twenty eight to be exact) after I moved away to get there. And my time at the park was limited, so I was looking for something that really said "Land of Enchantment," a label which New Mexico wears proudly. The yucca is the State Flower -- and this one standing alone in a field of rippled dunes really drives that symbolism home for me.
Editing
When I got home from the trip, I transferred all the images to my computer, I liked the composition, but in color, I thought the RAW image was just "meh." Being a longtime Ansel Adams fan, I turned to the master for inspiration and tried to see if I could make the image look more dramatic in black and white. I did some preliminary cropping and straightening in NX2, then converted it in Silver Efx Pro 2, where I added a Red Filter to turn the sky black. I then sharpened it in NX2.
In my camera bag
I find the 18-300mm to be the perfect go to lens. I carry that and a 11-16 f/2.8 Tokina with me all the time.
Feedback
I obviously wasn't there during optimal light conditions, but I tried to make the best of the situation. Even if you don't have the best light -- find compositions that might work in ways other than how you first envision them.

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