Calcium sulfate dihydrate.
Gypsum that is.
This photo was taken on a brief backcountry camping trip to White Sands National Monument. And it’s film, not digital, taken at night.
I was both thrilled and creeped out by the notion that the park is sometimes closed due to “missile testing”. The prospect of sleeping on the opalescent dunes under the full moon enticed me just as much. We arrived with enough time to register, schlep all the stuff from the car to the site, then to roam around the white giants. Cameras in hand, a place like this evokes a certain eagerness. There is the experience in itself. Just being there can be magical. Looking at it through the lens is something altogether different, though.
You start to notice the shape of things, soft curves and jagged edges. The way the clouds smatter the sky, the contrast of the mountains in the distance. And even more than the shape of landscape is the kiss of light. Highlights and shadows and everything in between.
At sunset, the sky blazed yellow and bright red before it faded to blue, violet. Black. And still, the dunes shimmered in the darkness, picked up bits of light pollution, and reflected the intense glow of the moon. Beckoning.