Great Sand Dunes

Tom and I spent time last year at Great Sand Dunes National Park.  These are the tallest sand dunes in North America, located northeast of Alamosa, CO.  The sand is actually blown up  here from the San Juan Mountains, some sixty miles away!   Last year it was so stormy, rainy, cold and windy that we finally left earlier than we had planned.  This year was much more pleasant, although the wind was up enough to sting and make me fret about my camera!  One of the most photographically rewarding features of sand dunes, in general, is their ever changing color and perceived topography based on subtle changes in light.  The wind also plays a huge part in making sure that dunes are not even the same day to day!  At the Great Sand Dunes you also have this huge mountain, part of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, to add a stark contrast to what appears to be a smooth, creamy landscape.  This year we also saw a lot more people as they were not scared away by the weather.  They become colorful features that indicate scale. We hope you enjoy the collection!

At the base of the dunes runs the Medano Creek.  Dry this time of year, it is a wide swath of sand, perfect for sand castles!  Between the creek bed and the dunes runs a variously wide section of grass. To get to the dunes usually means crossing both the dry creek bed and the grassy section.

I can imagine the discussion, "Well, which trail do you think we should take up to the top?"

Two ways to climb a sand dune!  Or, maybe that is one way up and another down!  

A little girl about three years old and her dad built this.

These kids must have had a very long drive.  When they got on the sand with their bare feet they danced and chased each other and screamed with joy.  Almost made me want to take my shoes off!

You may have noticed that the dunes are variously brown, sand or even purple.  It all depends on the light and the white balance chosen.  Since we shoot in RAW the color of the sand can be changed in post processing.  But, it is the photographer's choice on how to represent the colors and sometimes Tom and I have different tastes on the matter.

This was shot using a 2 stop graduated ND filter.  I now have one that screws on my 77mm lens.  So NICE as the post processing was easy peazy.  This sunset is to the south of the dunes and even my widest angle could not get in both.  That was OK as by this time the dunes were all in the dark.

If you want to see more of Tom's shots from Great Sand Dunes you can check them out on his website:  He has so many great ones that I cannot fit them into my blog!!  Yesterday was a 'drive to' day but Tom got in many shots from the passenger seat.  We stopped at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs but it was past sunset and now that we have seen the opportunities we have decided to go back there on our way back to Albuquerque.

Hope each of you is well and planning some great fall photo shoots.  Save space for us.