Exploring Great Sand Dunes NP

Discussion in 'Scenic, Architecture, and Travel' started by SpaceManSpiff, Oct 29, 2014.

  1. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    I had the chance to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park. The dunes are massive (I think the tallest, Star Dune, is 750m), and look deceptively small until you get close. I am reasonably pleased with the results and thought I would share them here. All are taken with a NEX-6. Any C&C is welcomed and encouraged. The first shot is taken with a Konica 200mm f/4 and the others with the 16-50 kit lens.

    It was quite windy here, which gave the dunes a soft look.

    During the first visit there were plenty of visitors to assist with providing some scale...but I arrived at the dunes a little late.

    Encouraged by the results from my first trip, I returned 3 months later to try again. During this visit, I was shooting in parallel with a Rolleiflex TLR and I think the process of using that manual camera helped me to slow down and think more carefully about how to capture an image. Even though it was less windy, there were few clouds in the sky and no snow on the mountains. You win some, you lose some. This time, I tried to focus on forms and light instead of on grand landscapes.




    After hoofing it to to top of a dune (far left in Pic #2)...which BTW is a real workout (especially after spending a solid portion of the day working with a chainsaw on some property we have nearby :p)...I saw a lone sunflower near the base of a dune about to be engulfed in shadow...and ran back down just in time.


    I don't know what it is but I assume something about the very reflective sand makes for some strange color casts and flare-like effects that I don't see in my other (non-dune) pictures.

    Thanks for stopping by,
    • Like Like x 17
  2. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Stunning series! Looks like a very interesting place to shoot.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. southy

    southy TalkEmount Veteran Subscribing Member

    Feb 5, 2014
    Nice, I do particularly like the shots with the hard contrast between the light and shade.
    • Like Like x 1
  4. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Wow, amazing photos of an amazing place!!! :thumbup:
    • Like Like x 1
  5. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Very nice. Would love to shoot somewhere like that.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    These places make for fascinating shots. Well done.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Guys --thanks SO much! :eek: Photographing the dunes has been the highlight of my year so far! Enthralling experience.

    southy-I was fascinated by the sharp contrast between the sunlit and shady areas. Even though this one is slightly back-focused I like the lit sand getting kicked up off the dune and the dark shade behind it.
    • Like Like x 3
  8. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    Some very unique shots...would like to visit such a place myself...and I especially like the first one with the line of clouds on the horizon being driven / shaped by the wind, and the next to the last one with the lone flower, front right
    • Like Like x 1
  9. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Love the shots. Also impressed by how well the "kit" lens performed.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Great captures! I bet you could spend days there and never come close to running out of things to shoot.
    • Like Like x 2
  11. BJW

    BJW TalkEmount Regular

    Sep 30, 2011
    Very nice series of images! I particularly like your use of shadows adding dimensions to the images.
  12. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks Roundball! Those are two of my favorite shots as well. The dunes-against-the-mountains shot is the first one that I have printed large (at Costco, on canvas) --at first it made me chuckle each time I walked by it when I realized ..."Oh Yeah, I took that picture"
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  13. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks Woods! No joke, I had to talk myself out of going back for a third time...but I am definitely going back next year.
  14. SpaceManSpiff

    SpaceManSpiff TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 13, 2013
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks Fractal! For landscape shots, I have the kit lens pretty well dialed in...in that regard I feel it is better than its reputation and have a hunch that some the corner smearing attributed to it is related to the NEX-6 AF (perhaps I should write a separate thread about this).
    • Like Like x 1