Photographic Examples-11-White Sands

Alain Briot

White Sands

Spirit of place as inspiration

I was photographing the moon rising over White Sands when, after I completed my moon shots, I turned to my right and noticed this scene unfolding next to me.  The color of the sky and of the dune where nearly similar, and the ripples in the sand mimicked the cloud formation in the sky.

I had a 300mm with a 1.4 tele-extender on my 1DsMk2 at the time.  Aware that the light quality was about to disappear, I decided to not change anything to my lens setup.  I had concerns that this lens combination was way too long for this image, but I did what I recommend you do to foster creativity, which is turn off your inner filter –your brain if you will- and just create an image, without editing anything, without wondering if this is right or wrong, and without asking yourself what others might think.  After all, if worse comes to worse, you can always delete the raw file and move on.  Nobody needs to know what you did unless you decide to talk about it, which is what I am doing now.

The light and the colors vanished after I took something like 3 frames, and my desire to change to a shorter lens remained an unfulfilled desire.  Back in my studio, it took me some time to convince myself that I should convert, optimize and print this image because it was unlike anything else I had done that day, or even before that day for that matter.  I also wondered what title to give it, until I decided that simply titling it White Sands was the way to go.  After all, for me this is what White Sands was like on that day. This is my emotional response to this scene, an unfiltered, un-critical and purely creative response.

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
April, 2011

About Alain Briot

I create fine art photographs, teach workshops with my wife Natalie, and offer DVD tutorials on composition, raw conversion, optimization, printing, marketing photographs and more. I am also the author of Mastering Landscape Photography,  Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style and Marketing Fine Art Photography.  All three books are available from my website as well as from and other fine bookstores.  

You can find more information about my work, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to my Free Monthly Newsletter on my website at  You will receive over 40 essays in PDF format, including chapters from my 3  books, when you subscribe.

I welcome your comments on this essay as well as on my other essays. You can reach me directly by emailing me at