Michele Sons: Trip to White Sands


As a landscape photographer, I am drawn to simple, calm, dream-like scenes in pastel colors. These are things that can be difficult to come by in the verdant and beautiful but visually chaotic Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I live. So for four years, I have longed to visit a place called White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. I finally made it there...

White Sands is quite literally a white desert. It is unique in that the sand that makes up the 300 square mile dune field is comprised of gypsum rather than the silica of normal sand. The gypsum is pure white, and so these huge rolling dunes reflect the colors of the weather and the atmosphere beautifully, rendering the scenes here very simple in terms of their color palette. Michele Sons blog WS horiz

After successfully using the Sweet 35 optic to shoot icebergs in Antarctica (see my previous Pro Spotlight post), I decided that this lens would be the perfect tool to exaggerate the simple, soft, Zen-like scenes I planned to shoot in this white desert, and so I took it along as a complement to my regular gear.

Michele Sons vert collage II

One of the things I love about the entire Lensbaby line is the sense of play I have when I place them on my camera. As a landscape photographer, I typically shoot very mindfully, taking great care in composing my scenes, achieving maximum depth of field and also maximum sharpness. A tripod is an essential part of my standard workflow. But sometimes I just need a change of pace. I need to see in a new way, break free from the restraints of my tripod, and Lensbaby always helps me do that.

1_Michele Sons blog WS horiz

Although this location is already visually simple, with interest primarily in texture, line, and shadow, the Sweet 35 takes it a step further, blurring out all but the most crucial elements of the scene to direct the eye to precise details as well as adding mood to my images. I personally prefer to use this lens for pared-down scenes and low contrast lighting, as the effect becomes quite subtle and gentle, particularly in abstract images of the textures of the windblown sands.

Michele sons vert collage I

I am delighted with what I shot during my week in the dunes, and Lensbaby helped me add a unique element to my body of work from White Sands.


Michele Sons is a fine art landscape and portrait photographer with a well-developed sense of adventure and a great love of nature. She is especially interested in the transformative power that the natural world can have on us all. Whenever possible, she is "out there," experiencing and photographing wild places; food for her soul and her creative spirit. View more of her work on her websiteor follow her on Facebook or on 500px


Our Composer Pro with Sweet 35 is our current sale item. Get it for $50 off here.

Reading next

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.