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White Sands

Nicole Mason


Behind the Shot

One of the world’s great natural wonders, the glistening dunes of New Mexico’s White Sands National Monument sparkle in an endless sea of shifting powder. It’s the largest gypsum dune field in the world, engulfing nearly 275 square miles of desert in the south-central region of the state.

Photographer Nicole Mason visited the monument with a few close friends in the spring of 2022. On a day trip from Santa Fe, she shot this black-and-white image using a medium-format Hasselblad camera she was trying out.

“We were only in White Sands for a few hours,” Nicole shares, “but it was so magical and we got a perfect sunset. It was the first time for all of us to see it, so it was special to share the experience with them. 

This image of a Western-style hat framed in the textural, perfectly rippled background of a sand dune is simultaneously complex and very simple. The sunlight creates a defined shadow from the hat, but the sand appears soft and smooth and gives no sense of the sun’s direction.  

“I love the pattern of clean lines in the sand,” Nicole says. “It makes you wonder how the hat got there and what the wider context is—seeing no footprints. I like that it’s a bit of a mystery.”

Add a hint of mystery to your favorite room by displaying this compelling print.