Tag Archives: White Sands National Monument

Fun Photo Friday — David Williams at White Sands


The Face

The Face

Photographing the dazzling white gypsum crystals of White Sands is not simply a case of point-and-shoot.  That intense white will confuse your camera’s light sensor.  Unless you make adjustments for that, your “white” dunes will come out looking dingy gray from underexposure.  Approach photography at White Sands as you would approach bright daylight photography of snow — think “Exposure Compensation.”

Lonely Dune Climber

Lonely Dune Climber

The vast majority of the photographs I’ve posted this week were taken with exposure compensation between +.7 and +2.0, with most falling in at around +1.3.  And even then the JPEGs appeared washed, lacked contrast and detail, and lacked luster and punch on nearly every level.  Fortunately, I was also saving images in Raw.

The Yucca

The Yucca

Indeed, I wound up tossing nearly every original JPEG and converting the Raw files into JPEG format after working a little digital post-processing magic.  The results were vastly superior, and I was able to compensate for the Panasonic FZ1000’s inclination to internally over-process JPEGs and to remove the corner vignetting evident many of the shots.  The FZ1000 is a very good camera, but that 16x zoom lens does have its limitations.  I’m also not very impressed with the aforementioned internal JPEG processing.  Large swathes of monochromatic areas, such as sky, often come out looking blotchy rather than smooth and uniform.  My Canon G1 X is vastly superior in this regard.

The Garden

The Garden

For a rather lengthy, perhaps boring, but nicely detailed look at exposure compensation I refer you to my previous blog post on the subject:  Honey, Why is the Snow so Gray . . . and Your Face so Dark?”  Another post on the subject would be:  The Photo Clinic is Open.

Next week we take David Williams on a grand tour of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, and the picturesque and historic Mexican Canyon Train Trestle.  Until then I leave you with three last Fun Photo Friday images of White Sands:

Wooden Fence

Wooden Fence

Blowing in the Wind

Blowing in the Wind

Hiker in the Distance

Hiker in the Distance

By the way, if you’re reading this and other material authored by me on The Destinary website, this post was not “Posted on (fill in the date) | By destinary” as they’ve been erroneously claiming; this material was in fact reposted.  The Destinary have also been claiming the right to do so, without links back to the original and without full attribution (“by RDoug” and a nonworking link is not proper attribution) with a rather bizarre interpretation of U.S. copyright law in which they claim I’m responsible for changing my RSS feed settings so that they cannot skim my material for commercial purposes.  That would make reading my blog less convenient for you, which I’m not willing to do.  As such, I’ll be running this little diatribe on all travel related posts until they cease and desist, along with this:

© 2015 R. Doug Wicker (RDougWicker.com)
All right reserved — that includes you, Destinary

Final note:  Considering The Destinary is a site listed as owned by Sonia Bosquez-Platt of Indianapolis Tour & Travel, you may want to rethink doing business with her or her company.

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Filed under Fun Photo Friday, Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel

The Williams Tour Part 4 — Still at White Sands


White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

So, what is there to do here amongst the gypsum dunes of White Sands?  Ride them, of course.  You did bring your saucer and wax, right?  We did.

Selfie & Slide

Selfie & Slide

Just climb to the top of a particularly tall and steep dune — the easiest way is to approach from a gradually sloping side rather than head-on — and sit atop your freshly waxed saucer.  Getting started may be a bit of a struggle, but once you’re over the crest down you go!

Headin' down

Headin’ down

Don’t worry.  You won’t pick up much speed, and in the end you’ll wonder if it was worth the effort to drag both the saucer and yourself to the top.  But then you’ll find yourself climbing back up for more.

At the bottom

At the bottom

I’ll give some photographic tips on how to properly expose these blindingly white dunes on this week’s Fun Photo Friday.  Until then, here are some more shots:

By the way, if you’re reading this and other material authored by me on The Destinary website, this post was not “Posted on (fill in the date) | By destinary” as they’ve been erroneously claiming; this material was in fact reposted.  The Destinary have also been claiming the right to do so, without links back to the original and without full attribution (“by RDoug” and a nonworking link is not proper attribution) with a rather bizarre interpretation of U.S. copyright law in which they claim I’m responsible for changing my RSS feed settings so that they cannot skim my material for commercial purposes.  That would make reading my blog less convenient for you, which I’m not willing to do.  As such, I’ll be running this little diatribe on all travel related posts until they cease and desist, along with this:

© 2015 R. Doug Wicker (RDougWicker.com)
All right reserved — that includes you, Destinary

Final note:  Considering The Destinary is a site listed as owned by Sonia Bosquez-Platt of Indianapolis Tour & Travel, you may want to rethink doing business with her or her company.

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Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation

The Williams Tour Part 3 — David Williams at White Sands National Monument


The Star of this Series — David Williams

The Star of this Series — David Williams

As you’ll recall from last week my good college buddy and best man at our wedding — Mr. David Williams — decided to pay Ursula and I a visit.  We of course decided to take him on the grand tour of the El Paso area, including one of David’s favorite locations, the White Sands National Monument.

Ursula Holds her Hat

Ursula Holds her Hat

Despite the name and contrary to appearances, there is very little sand here.  That fine, powdery white stuff you see everywhere is gypsum crystal, which blows off Lake Lucero.  Which reminds me.  I’ve yet to do a blog post on Lake Lucero.  Guess I’ll have to rig one up after I finish this series.  Anyway, Lake Lucero is not an easy place to visit.  You have to convoy in through a restricted military establishment, and there is only one tour a month from November through April.  No one can get in from May through October.

Stretching for miles

Stretching for miles

As you can see it’s pretty desolate out amongst the gypsum dunes of White Sands.  But there is life here — hearty vegetation grows along the edges of the main dune area, and lizards, snakes, and small mammals leave their tracks.  Above you’ll find various raptors looking for easy pickings, and in the picnic areas huge blackbirds forage for scraps.

White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

But deep within there is little vegetation and even less water.  When rain does fall, the gypsum dissolves and then reforms as a thin crust along the surface of the dunes.

Gypsum Dunes

Gypsum Dunes

Sink your bare feet beneath that crusty surface and the soles will go from scorching heat into moist coolness in very short order.

Footprints in the Gypsum

Footprints in the Gypsum

It’s an enchanting place, but the bright sunlight reflecting off the gypsum crystals is brutal.  Pack water, apply sunscreen, and wear a hat.  During the hot months visit in the early morning, or take one of the Full Moon Tours offered once a month from late spring through mid fall.

Sparse Vegetation

Sparse Vegetation

And don’t forget the wax and plastic saucers for riding down the dunes.  More on that on Wednesday!

San Andres Mountains in the background

San Andres Mountains in the background

Old Fence

Old Fence

By the way, if you’re reading this and other material authored by me on The Destinary website, this post was not “Posted on (fill in the date) | By destinary” as they’ve been erroneously claiming; this material was in fact reposted.  The Destinary have also been claiming the right to do so, without links back to the original and without full attribution (“by RDoug” and a nonworking link is not proper attribution) with a rather bizarre interpretation of U.S. copyright law in which they claim I’m responsible for changing my RSS feed settings so that they cannot skim my material for commercial purposes.  That would make reading my blog less convenient for you, which I’m not willing to do.  As such, I’ll be running this little diatribe on all travel related posts until they cease and desist, along with this:

© 2015 R. Doug Wicker (RDougWicker.com)
All right reserved — that includes you, Destinary

Final note:  Considering The Destinary is a site listed as owned by Sonia Bosquez-Platt of Indianapolis Tour & Travel, you may want to rethink doing business with her or her company.

1 Comment

Filed under Photography, R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation