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White Sands Yucca

White Sands Yucca
Photo Information
Copyright: JC Ramos (jramos) Silver Note Writer [C: 0 W: 0 N: 44] (168)
Genre: Plants
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-05-29
Categories: Cacti, Mountain, Sky
Exposure: f/8, 1/800 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-11-04 15:55
Viewed: 3658
Points: 12
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand because it is water-soluble. Normally, rain would dissolve the gypsum and carry it to the sea. Since the Tularosa Basin has no outlet to the sea, rain that dissolves gypsum from the surrounding San Andres and Sacramento Mountains is trapped within the basin, and the rain either sinks into the ground or forms shallow pools which subsequently dry out and leave gypsum in a crystalline form, called selenite, on the surface. During the last ice age, a lake known as Lake Otero covered much of the basin. When it dried out, it left a large flat area of selenite crystals which is now the Alkali Flat. Another lake, Lake Lucero, at the southwest corner of the park, is a dry lake bed, at one of the lowest points of the basin, which occasionally fills with water.

The ground in the Alkali Flat and along Lake Lucero's shore is covered with selenite crystals which reach lengths of up to three feet (1 m). Weathering and erosion eventually breaks the crystals into sand-size grains that are carried away by the prevailing winds from the southwest, forming white dunes. The dunes constantly change shape and slowly move downwind, covering the plants in their path. Some species of plants, however, can grow rapidly enough to avoid being buried by the dunes.

From the visitor center at the entrance of the park, the Dunes Drive leads 8 miles (12 km) into the dunes. Four marked trails allow to explore the dunes by foot. During the summer, there are also Ranger-guided orientation and nature walks. The park participates in the Junior Ranger Program, with various age-group-specific activities.

Unlike dunes made of quartz-based sand crystals, the gypsum does not readily convert the sun's energy into heat and thus can be walked upon safely with bare feet, even in the hottest summer months. In areas accessible by car, children frequently use the dunes for downhill sledding. Because the park lies completely within the White Sands Missile Range, both the park and U.S. Route 70 between Las Cruces, New Mexico and Alamogordo are subject to closure for safety reasons when tests are conducted on the missile range. On average, tests occur about twice a week, for a duration of one to two hours. Located on the northernmost boundaries of White Sands Missile Range, the Trinity Site can be found, where the first atom bomb was detonated.

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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2009-11-04 16:58]

That's a beautiful scene, J.C.
I like the simplicity of the composition.
Great light and interesting cloud formations.
The yucca with all its blossoms stand out nicely against the stark sand.
TFS. : )

Hello JC
Your notes are really interesting, especially about being able to walk on the white sand in the summer sun. I love the Yucca you found in full bloom. It's cream coloured blossoms against the blue sky is very artistic.
TFS Janice

  • Great 
  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2009-11-04 22:18]

Dear JC

Your picture simply is marvellous. It's fascinating to see how this plant shows his will to live. Your composition highlights this very well. Moreover, the superb colours make this picture an outstanding one.

I believe that your pictures would find the consideration they merit if you on your side would write more critiques.

Kind regards


Hallo JC
Picture postcard perfect. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. I can just imagine sitting there now, wow. A dream place to be and to appreciate. Great exposure with strong contrasts managed well, great detail and beautiful colours. Excellent photography. Thanks for this contribution. Best Regards.

Bonjour JC,
Lumière étonnante qui m'a fait confondre sur la miniature le gypse avec de la neige car la scène est censée se dérouler en montagne !!!
Très belle présentation du sujet dans son environnement avec une bonne maitrise des hautes lumières.
A bientôt sur TN pour de nouvelles aventures.

  • Great 
  • henkv (67)
  • [2009-11-06 4:25]

Very nice capture and composition.. tx


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