Whenever I travel to shoot photography I always strive to create images which capture the essence of the place I am visiting. In February this year, I spent 3 days at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. I was immediately struck by the pure white color of the sand and the deep blue color of the sky. I decided to create an image which isolated this pure white color combined with the deep blue sky.
White Sands is a desert basin surrounded by mountains with no natural outlet for water to flow to the sea. When it rains the water flows into a large lake which slowly evaporates over the dry season. This evaporation creates clear gypsum crystals on the desert floor. The wind breaks these clear gypsum crystals into tiny particles of sand which due to abrasion become scratched on the surface and turn into pure white sand. The dry climate in this sparsely populated high altitude desert is also the optimum environment to create the bluest skies I have ever seen. I was captivated by the contrast between the pure white sand and the cobalt blue sky.
One morning I set out to capture this combination of pure white and cobalt blue. I left early in the morning so that the dunes would still be untrampled by any hikers’ footprints. After I found the perfect dune, I added a poloarising lens to intensify the dark blue of the sky and started shooting. The first shots I took were very wide and did not have the punch I was looking for. As I gradually moved closer and closer to the base of the dune photographing, the lines sculpted into the sand by the wind overnight slowly became stronger and stronger. Of all the images I shot that day, this is one I liked the best.
I lived in Japan for over 15 years and while there I was deeply influenced by Japanese culture. Traditional Japanese architecture is very sparse and emphasizes simple lines. Even when I am creating images of nature, I think my eye is influenced by this Japanese esthetic tradition. You can see “White Sand Dune” in my new portfolio of images at Parklane Gallery entitled “Colors of Nature”.