|Mesquite Flat Dunes at sunrise.|
The dunes are a popular draw to hikers, photographers, sand dune surfers, and more. As a result, the dunes can get tracked up in a hurry, much to the frustration of photographers.
Though evening can provide excellent photography result with colorful skies to the north, sunrise is the ideal time to photograph the dunes. The biggest reason for this is simply the tracks in the sand. As the dunes are very popular during the day, evening finds the area victim to the evidence of all these visitors. If you are lucky, overnight winds will erase such evidence, allowing you a fresh start in the early hours.
|Sand ripples at Mesquite Flat Dunes|
As the sun rises shadows become more pronounced and one can play with negative space between the dunes and line patterns.
I recommend finding an area not recently visited by others, and looking for a prominent spot with lots of texture and offering views of higher, more prominent dunes for you subject matter. This will give you lots of options and you will be surprised at how quickly time flies!
|Mesquite Flat Dunes in spring.|
Be sure and keep your eyes open for critters and animal tracks. Sidewinder, deer and coyote tracks can be fun to encounter and offer interesting photo ops. Lizards are also a common sight.
All lenses should be made available during your visit to the dunes. Normal range and wide angle lenses will allow you to play with the ripple patterns in the sand and add depth to your composition. Zoom lenses will allow you to isolate distant dunes and work around tracked up sand. They will also allow you to play with shadows and negative space.
I recommend taking an evening walk to scout the area you wish to photograph, then return in the morning to shoot. Again, cross your fingers for overnight winds to erase the previous days tracks. When planning your visit to the dunes, try to time it after a windy day or night, or even during a windy morning (make sure to protect your camera). My visits were during calm conditions and I found the amount of tracks to be extremely frustrating.