A vacation for Erin & I had been long overdue. We had never gone on a vacation together (even after dating for 2 1/2 years), and I hadn’t been on a vacation in over 4 years. We had been talking about going on a road trip to California for as long as we could remember, but with Erin’s job and internship, it was almost impossible to find the right time to go. That’s when we realized she would have exactly 10 days between when her internship at Red Productions ended and when a new semester started. So we had to cram all the vacation we’ve ever wanted into just those 10 days. One epic road trip through New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Oregon.
The first day was certainly the longest. We woke up at 5AM, and packed the car with two huge suitcases, loads of equipment, and a month worth of podcasts. We left home just as the sun was coming up in order to get to White Sands, New Mexico in time for photos. It took basically all day just to get outside of Texas. We stopped a couple times along the way when we saw particularly interesting views (a field of dead trees, a west Texas desert, and a hilltop overlooking Texas & New Mexico).
By the time we arrived at White Sands National Monument, we were thrilled to get out of the car and run around taking photos. I had wanted to visit White Sands for years and years. It’s such a wonderfully unique location, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
One thing I had not expected was the huge contrast ratio when photographing at White Sands. I thought surely the sunlight would bounce off the sand creating enough fill light, but no. Properly exposing photos to show the details in the bright white sand and the shadows on our faces was certainly difficult without HDR or a reflector. It was also surprisingly difficult to get nice clean wide shots without constantly messing up the sand.
Somehow Erin messed up her back from so many jumping shots, so we took it easy during the sunset. We sat at the top of the tallest dune we could find and watched the sun slowly fade behind a mountain on the horizon. It was certainly an odd sight to behold. When I looked one way, I was sure I was at the beach, and there must be an ocean on the other side of a sand dune. When I looked another way, and saw a car driving down the road, I was sure I was up in the Rockies, surrounded by snow. When I looked another way, I was sure I was on some strange alien planet. It was one of the most surreal sunsets I’ve ever seen, and the perfect way to end the first day of our trip.
P.S. We must have debated for a half hour about the proper hashtag for our trip. The future is weird.