White Sands Workshop Overview
Located in Southern New Mexico, White Sands National Park is one of the most beautiful and bizarre landscapes in the Southwest. It also happens to be the largest set of gypsum dunes in the world. The fine white sand makes for dream like photographs that are unlike anywhere else in the world. I currently have fall 2023 and spring 2024 dates scheduled. BOTH SETS OF DATES ARE CURRENTLY SOLD OUT. Contact me to be placed on the waitlist and or notification list for the next trip.
What To Expect
During this small group workshop, we'll spend two and a half days photographing some of the most beautiful sand dunes in the world. In order to take advantage of the best light, we'll be entering the park with a special use permit before the gates open in the morning. This will allow us to get into position for sunrise which will happen before the general public is allowed into the park. Sunrise and sunset is a remarkable experience in White Sands as the sand reflects whatever color is in the sky.
We'll be hiking through rolling dunes in order to shoot the best locations within the park. On this workshop we'll photograph Yuca plants, abstract textures, sweeping vistas and more. Each full day of the workshop will consists of a morning shoot as well as an evening shoot. The middle of the day will be reserved for rest, lunch and post processing.
The Weather in White Sands can be rather unpredictable in the Autumn. Daytime temperatures average in the mid 60's while the lows can drop below freezing in the night. It is important to come prepared for the heat as well as the cold since we'll be out in the elements before the sun rises. Rain is pretty rare in November but it is important to be prepared for it in the rare case that it happens. Rain jackets can be very good at blocking the wind should we experience a wind storm during our time photographing the park.
While we're on the topic of wind, I highly recommend bringing goggles and a camera rain jacket in case of a dust storm. The sand at white sands is very fine and you don't want it to sandblast your eyes. (Not that I know from experience or anything. Wink Wink...) We will head into the dunes and shoot even in the event of a dust storm. While the experience can be intense, it can also be very rewarding photogenically. Some of my favorite images were taken in dust storms, including the one above.
Lodging & Transportation
Our home base for the workshop will be in the nearby town of Alamogordo New Mexico which is conveniently located 15 minutes from White Sands National Park. If the light looks like it might be good in the middle of the day we will be just a short drive away from the park. I have reserved a block of rooms at the Hampton Inn for our group. I will send instructions on how to reserve your portion of the block once your booking is complete.
Each participant is responsible for their own transportation to and from the park. If you are comfortable carpooling, participants are more than welcome to share rides to and from the park. We'll discuss carpooling during the orientation so folks can pair up if they would like to.
• Orientation at the Hampton Inn in Alamogordo NM - 2:30 pm
• Sunset Shoot
• Sunrise Shoot
• Sunset Shoot
• Sunrise Shoot
• Break & Post Processing
• Sunset Shoot
• Sunrise Shoot
• Professional Photographer & Guide: You will be guided by a professional photographer who has a good understanding of how light and weather interact with one another. I’ll be at your disposal for any and all questions regarding camera settings, composition, and more.
• Early entry and late exit park permits.
• Park Entrance Fee
• Post Processing Session / Image Review: I'll take some time to cover some of my favorite post processing techniques as well as answer any questions that you might have about your images that you captured during the workshop.
• Snacks: I'll provide snacks for a little bit of sustenance while we are out shooting in the field
What's Not Included
• Air Fair and Ground Transportation: Participants are responsible for getting themselves to and from Alamogordo and White Sands. Carpooling is an option for those who prefer to share rides to and from the park.
• Meals: Each participant is responsible for their own meals. The Holiday Inn Express provides a continental breakfast but I cannot guarantee that we will be back in time to catch it.
• Accommodations: Each participant is responsible for their own lodging.
• Transportation: Participants are welcome to carpool
Full payment for the workshop is due 90 days before the workshop start date.
Sometimes life can get in the way of a good a thing. Hopefully that doesn’t happen during this workshop, but if it does the following cancelation policy applies.
• 120 days or more – Full refund minus a $200 cancelation fee
• 60 - 119 days – 50% refund
• 60 days or less – no refund
Should you have to cancel and I find a replacement for your space, I’ll refund your full payment minus the $200 cancelation fee.
This workshop is open to photographers of all skill levels.
While White Sands is the largest collection of gypsum sand dunes in the world the dunes are relatively short with the highest dunes reaching only 60 feet high. Most of our shooting will require hiking a half of a mile to 1.5 miles into the dunes. We will take our time getting to the locations and hike as group. Participants should bring good hiking boots and be ok walking on sand and uneven terrain. As mentioned above the weather is fairly mild and sometimes cold in November so hiking should be rather comfortable for us.
White Sands National Park is located within The White Sands Missile Range. The park service closes the park if there is a missile test. The missile tests typically last two to four hours and usually happen in the morning. Full or partial refunds cannot be given in the event that we are not able to enter the park for a portion of the trip due to such a closure.
Frequently Asked Questions
• Is it hard to walk on the sand in White Sands National Park? The dunes at White Sands are made of gypsum which is a very fine type of sand. Due to fine grain structure, it is relatively easy to walk though the dunes the the ground is level. I've been in the dunes many times and avoid going up and down the faces of dunes whenever possible. It is much easier to traverse the ridges.
• Are goggles really required for the workshop? Yes, it is best to have some sort of protective eyewear in the event of a wind storm. Glasses will not protect your eyes in a wind storm. The type of goggles you choose is up to you. Just make sure that they are sealed well without any open vents.
• What is the closest airport to White Sands National Park? The El Paso airport is about 2 hours away from White Sands. A Otherwise Albuquerque is about a 3.5 hour drive and Santa Fe is 4 hours.