Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Solitude and Civilization
There are several large areas of dunes in California; the best known are in Death Valley and here, in the extreme southwest corner of the state right next to Arizona, are the Algodones Dunes. More commonly known as the Imperial Dunes, because that is the name of the recreational area set aside for all the dune buggies, ATVs and dirt bikes that buzz around burning gas literally by the tens of thousands on any given weekend. Especially in the winter when it's cool, there is basically a temporary city of campers and motor homes each weekend as thousands migrate here to play in the sand. Fortunately, the much larger part of the area is set aside as a pure wilderness... no vehicles or other man made activity is allowed except for hiking and nature watching. So, as peaceful and desolate as this image may look, a mile or so behind from where I took this is all the motorized craziness. Wandering out in this direction, you can barely find another human footprint, but if you look closely in the foreground you can see part of a few prints that look like a coyote had walked by, and we found numerous beetle and bug tracks in the undisturbed sand also. There are no trails, obviously... you can just wander around up and down the dunes wherever you want until you get tired, which doesn't take that long walking in the loose sand. Dangerously hot here in the summer, but winter is very comfortable.
I mentioned this area briefly in a previous post, and have been struggling a bit since then with how to present these; going back and forth between B&W vs. color so many times that I'm not sure which I prefer... depends on what particular day I happen to look at them I guess. For today, I'll show a color image and then maybe a B&W one later... I'm always curious about what people prefer. Since it was winter and the days were short, we stuck around until late in the day to capture the low golden light and deep shadows just before sunset.
You can get a sense of scale and see an interesting shot of the dunes taken from the international space station here.