White Sands Dunes at Night

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White Sands National Monument, near Alamogordo New Mexico, is famous for the bright white gypsum which makes up its dunes. The sand is so reflective that it’s cool to the touch, even in intense summer sunshine.

In this piece you can see the rolling gypsum dunes of White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, with the beautiful Sacramento Mountains in the background. This photograph plays a bit of a trick on you. The moderate brightness of the dunes, coupled with the dark sky, seem to convince the viewer that this is likely a nighttime photograph. But in reality, it’s not. It’s the only photograph where the title is intentionally misleading, in order to further the ambiance of the image. In reality, this photograph was taken at near midday, with the sun almost directly overhead. The gypsum is so reflective, that the dunes were far brighter than even the desert sky. Thus, exposing for the sand yielded a dark sky. You can tell orientation of the sun by looking at the dunes, where the shadows are only present on the vertical wall of sand.

Higher resolutions of this image are available (the maximum resolution for this image is 6321×278). For usages that require a resolution higher than 3000px, or are otherwise beyond the standard terms and conditions, please email me directly at matt@matttilghman.com to discuss use-specific pricing.

Purchase “White Sands Dunes at Night” Fine Art Print: