Kelso Dunes

Shot info:  Canon 5D Mark II with Canon 24-70 lens at 24mm.  Set to ISO 400 exposed at f/ 14.0 for 1/50 of a second.


This photograph was made because of a mix of curiosity, caffeine, and stubbornness.  Last spring I took a trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  The drive there from San Diego was painfully long and boring, but the beauty of the canyon was well worth it.  The drive also made me realize that if I didn’t break up the return trip, I’d probably go crazy.

Luckily, I had an ipod and google maps.  With a little looking, I stumbled upon the Kelso Sand Dunes which were along the way home.  These unique dunes are located  in the Mojave National Preserve of Southern California.  The light colored sand is made mostly of quartz and feldspar, which have an interesting habit of “booming” or making a low rumble as you walk through it.  Hearing this singing sand was truly bizarre.   It made hauling heavy gear up and down the shifting dunes a little less monotonous.

After a short bumpy drive into the preserve I parked at a small empty lot.  The late afternoon sun was roasting, and the hike just to get to the dunes was deceptively long (good idea to bring some water).  The strong breeze that felt good at the parking lot turned into a sand blasting annoyance by the time I got to the dunes themselves.  Sand and wind whipped into my face, covered my camera bags, and ripped the hat from my head on more than one occasion.  It was definitely tough shooting.

This image was made after finally dragging myself to the top of a large dune.  Looking back at my own tracks made me realize how sensual the diagonal curves of the dunes looked from this angle.  Quickly I pulled out my camera, covered it with a spare shirt, and prayed that it was protected from the sand and grit.  I captured several different views before packing everything away again.  I liked this particular shot because the sand glowed from the setting sun, and I think that the clouds added a nice touch.  Hiking back to the car with a beach worth of sand in each shoe was fun, but this side trip was certainly worth it.

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