A visit to Big Buddha, or Tian Tan Buddha, is regarded as a must when you visit Hong Kong.
The impressive Buddha statue, erected in 1993, sits 34 meters high (that’s 111.55 feet) as a landmark atop a hill amongst superabundant green vegetation. Clouds swirl around Buddha then swoop into the valley below. It’s like Mother Nature dancing before your eyes. One of my best memories during my visit was the fast-moving clouds that engulfed me as I wandered the site.
The majestic statue draws pilgrims from all over Asia as well as numerous tourists such as myself on this day. And, despite the constant chatter and selfie-takers, the setting is rather peaceful. There is a calm brought about merely by nature itself.
The cable car itself is called Ngong Ping 360. You’re promised an inspiring 25-minute cable car ride to Big Buddha. Without a doubt or hesitation, I can say the ride exceeds anyone’s wildest expectations. In fact, I’d go as far to say the cable car ride to Big Buddha is the best part of the experience.
The cable car smoothly soars through the air high above rolling lush green mountainside that seems to never end. The panoramic vistas of Lantau Island, and well beyond, are a feast for the eyes. If you love natural landscapes as much as I do, you’re sure to be delighted. As an added bonus, the cable car drifts through low lying clouds for an ethereal experience. It’s entirely possible the smile on my face stretched from ear to ear during the ride. I felt at peace as if nothing was wrong in the world. You can see bits of the cable car ride in the videos in this post.
Ngong Ping Cable Car is 5.7 kilometres (3.5 miles) long. The cable car system consists of eight towers which the gondolas pass through on their way from Tung Chung and Ngong Ping, where the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha are located.
Big Buddha faces north towards Mainland China. It sits atop a lotus throne and its official name is Tian Tan Giant Buddha. The statue sits on a three-story alter modelled after the base structure found in the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. the body of Buddha is made up of 160 bronze pieces. The head of Big Buddha is modelled after statues in the Longmen Grottoes. The Tian Tan Buddha was forged using bronze and gold, which glitters and glows under sunlight. And finally, the legs of Buddha sits in the same position assumed by Sakyamuni Buddha when he attained enlightenment under the famous bodhi tree.
The eyes, lips, the incline of the head and right hand, which is raised to deliver a blessing to all, combine to bring a humbling depth of character and dignity to the massive Buddha. It took twelve (12) years to complete Tian Tan Giant Buddha. As a visitor, expect to climb a healthy 268 steps for a closer look at this stunning statue. Savour the feeling when the clouds flurry around you and enjoy the sweeping mountain views that can be seen from the base of Big Buddha.
Opposite the statue, you’ll find the Po Lin Monastery. Po Lin is one of Hong Kong’s most important sanctums and is often referred to as “the Buddhist World in the South.” The monastery is home to many a monk and is rich with colourful representations of Buddha throughout. Stroll through the beautiful garden to simply take in the scenery.
If you enjoy photography or videography, this is a journey you’ll want to experience. There are numerous photo opportunities and the brilliant part is you’ll capture Tian Tan Buddha from various perspectives.
I visited the area via a structured tour, which I don’t recommend. What I dislike about most organized tours are time restraints and the rush to get from point A to point B. Make your way on your own or organize a private guide so you can enjoy the day and the experience at your leisure.
Much attention is given to the Fourth Plinth in the northwest corner of Trafalgar Square. Do you know the distinction of the world record holding southeast corner of Trafalgar?
Avoiding almost all attention at the south-east corner of Trafalgar Square is a peculiar and often overlooked world record holder; Britain’s Smallest Police Station. It’s said this tiny box can accommodate up to two prisoners at a time. Its main purpose was to hold a single police officer. Think of it as a 1920’s CCTV camera! Yes, you were being watched even before 1984 reality set in.
You can be forgiven for missing the world’s smallest police station. It looks more like a neoclassical Tardis than a police station. There won’t be a crowd of curious tourists gathered around it happily snapping selfies.
The tiny police station was built in 1926 so the Metropolitan Police could keep a close eye on dubious characters creating mischief during demonstrations prevalent at the time. Back in the day, Trafalgar Square was a magnet for London’s protestors, rioters, marchers and pigeons. The story behind its construction is also a wee bit secretive.
At the end of World War I, a temporary police box outside Trafalgar Square tube station was due for renovation. Authorities wanted a permanent post to survey the area. The public was having none of that and objected profusely, so the plans were scrapped. Instead, the Metropolitan Police decided to build a less obvious police box. Where? Inside an ornamental light post.
Once the light post was hollowed out, it was then installed with a set of castle-style narrow windows in order to provide a 360-degree vista primarily across Trafalgar Square. If it looked like a lamppost and acted like a lamppost, it must be nothing more, right? Cleverly, the designers went a step further and installed a direct phone line back to Scotland Yard. If reinforcements were needed in times of serious trouble, the authorities could easily be alerted.
In fact, whenever the police phone was picked up, a clandestine signal flashed. The signal? The ornamental light fighting at the top of the police box. Nearby officers could rush in to break up any melee that might take place.
Once the light fitting was hollowed out, it was then installed with a set of narrow windows in order to provide a vista across the main square. Also installed was a direct phone line back to Scotland Yard in case reinforcements were needed in times of trouble. In fact, whenever the police phone was picked up, the ornamental light fitting at the top of the box started to flash, alerting any nearby officers on duty that trouble was near.
Though not confirmed, London legend tells us the ornamental light on top of the box, installed in 1826, is originally from Nelson’s historic HMS Victory.
Is London’s smallest police station used today? Yes, but not for Trafalgar Square security reasons. The box is not used by the police today but is instead used as a broom closet for Westminster Council cleaners.
Next time you’re in Trafalgar Square, be sure to pass by Trafalgar Square and see this tiny marvel for yourself, brooms and all.
Map Showing the Location of London’s Smallest Police Station ::
Before we wrap up the photo composition mini-course, I want to share with you one more important part of being a photographer.
As you fine-tune your photography composition skills, start thinking about your style. Yes, that’s right style.When other people look at your photographs, you want them to view them and immediately say – “Hey, this is unmistakably your work. I love your style.”
Work especially hard at creating photographs that only you can take – photos that are unique to you.
This is especially important if you intend to sell your photos commercially. Creating your own style will make your hard work more marketable. People will WANT to buy our photos. Additionally, if your style is absolutely wonderful, magazines and the like will want to work with you over and over again. Do keep this in mind. A style is just as important as composition. In fact, the two go hand in hand.
Thank you for joining me in this course. I enjoyed working with you and seeing your progress through the course.
Stop back at any time. I’d like to see how you get on. If you have any questions, please ask, even after your completion of the course. The journey doesn’t end here.
When I recall Kathmandu, I remember just what you see in the video. Chaos and I won’t go so far as to say organised chaos. Somehow, some way, everything works and no one collides. The roads are free for all. As a westerner, and one who wants everything neatly organised, Kathmandu made my head spin. Absolutely nothing made sense, yet I think I might want to return for more one day.
There are two things that vividly stand out in my memory. One, the overhead power lines. The power lines were like a tangled ball of yarn tossed onto a pole. What fascinated me more was the repairman on a rickety ladder seemingly engineering something. Seriously, how did he know what line went to what?
Secondly, traffic lights. Traffic lights are everywhere and at almost every major intersection in Kathmandu. None of the traffic lights works and they’re not even turned on. Why are there no major car or scooter collisions every minute? Do be aware – even as a passenger in a car with an experienced Kathmandu driver, you will be stressed if you pay too close attention to what is happening on the roads. I suggest deeply occupying yourself until you arrive at your destination.
True, this is a case of Western sensibilities attempting to project onto a land where the rules I know do not apply. I thought I was over-applying Western rules to the rest of the world. Apparently not.
Discover more about Kathmandu from an earlier post.
If you are a Beatrix Potter fan, you’ll want to explore Brompton Cemetery, which is located within one of London’s most affluent boroughs. The cemetery is one of the “Magnificent Seven” garden cemeteries, built in a ring around London during the 1830’s to ease the city’s overcrowded graveyards. Today, there are about 35,000 gravestones, catacombs, stoned arches and even a chapel.
Brompton is the resting place for a number of well-known people. Eighteenth-century gentleman boxer John Jackson and cricket champion John Widen are buried here. Some of the names on gravestones may seem familiar for a cherished literary reason. The cemetery inspired the local writer, Beatrix Potter, with names for some of her characters. Peter Rabbett, Jeremiah Fisher, Mr Nutkins, Mr Brock and Mr McGregor have all been found on the stones at Brompton Cemetery. Miss Potter lived nearby from 1863 to 1913 confirming local rumours that have made the rounds for years about the source of the names of her characters.
The cemetery also offers a public green space. It is not uncommon to find picnickers, strolling Londoners or even people taking their own short rest on a bench. The site is also a popular habitat for a variety of bats, amphibians, invertebrates, moths and a plethora of birds. Bees thrive in the cemetery and the cemetery has its own apiary, and delicious honey is available during cemetery open days. Also, expect to find more than sixty species of trees.
More than this, Brompton is a dream if you love architecture. The cemetery is one of the earliest examples of a landscape architect and traditional architect working together. Designed by Benjamin Baud and John Claudius Loudon, the inspiration for the cemetery was taken from St Peter’s in Rome. The Roman influence can be seen in the existing layout of colonnades and a central avenue leading to the chapel. The architecture and green space are two top reasons why I love visiting Brompton Cemetery. No pun intended, but it is a peaceful way to spend part of a day or even an entire day. I often take a lunch and I always have my camera.
Brompton Cemetery was originally designed to accommodate some 60,000 plots in a combination of common and private graves, closely spaced in tidy rows. Plots on the east side were designated as ‘private’ graves, sold ‘in perpetuity’ with heritable deeds; these could be up to 19 feet (5.8m) deep, typically to contain brick-lined vaults beneath large monuments or mausolea. This encouraged wealthy families to build grand monuments and mausolea to accommodate several generations, as enduring symbols of worldly affluence and prestige. Brompton Cemetery is thus now distinguished by some 35,000 monuments, from modest headstones and ledgers to substantial family mausolea.
On the west, large sections of cheaper ‘common’ graves accommodated several unrelated coffins in one deep cut with no right to erect a monument above; some were dug almost 22 feet (7m) deep to take up to ten adult burials. There are very few actual paupers’ graves.
** What are London’s Magnificent Seven Cemeteries? Highgate, Nunhead, Brompton, Abney Park, Kensal Green, Tower Hamlets and West Norwood. These cemeteries make up a ring of suburban garden cemeteries that opened between 1833 and 1841, on the cusp of the Georgian and Victorian eras.
Where is Brompton Cemetery? The 39-acre site lies between Old Brompton and Fulham Roads, on the western border of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The nearest London Underground & Overground station is West Brompton (District Line, Wimbledon branch, and London Overground), to the west on Old Brompton Road: turn right on leaving the station, and the North Gate and Lodges are within two minutes’ walk.
Earl’s Court Station (Piccadilly and District Lines) is within ten minutes’ walk to the north: turn left out of the Warwick Road entrance and walk south along Warwick Road to Old Brompton Road.
Map Showing the Location of Brompton Cemetery in London ::
If you have participated in each of the lessons in this course, you now know the rules of composition. You also know it is ok to break the rules if you can do this effectively. Additionally, with each lesson, we have had a good practice which allowed you to put the rules into practice.
You may still be asking yourself what is the secret to creating amazing photos with brilliant composition? The answer is no secret at all. The answer is practice. Practice, practice, practice and more practice.
I can’t stress this enough.
Practice will give you experience. The more photos you take practising everything we have discussed during this course the better photographer you will become. All of the so-called rules will come to you without thinking. I promise. It may seem like you’re not doing anything special, but actually, you are quickly taking stock of things like leading lines, filling your frame, or avoiding the middle though your not consciously thinking about it. All the elements talked about are very important to your photography composition and while it may seem overwhelming at first, grasping these tools means that you control exactly how your audience views your photos.
Take your camera everywhere you go and set aside time each day or each week to take photographs. I often hear this from people – there is nothing interesting to photograph where I live. There is your challenge. Make the uninteresting interesting through your photography. If you can do this, you know you’ve mastered composition, conveying a message and photography.
Step away from the perpetual horn honking and mad driving in Kathmandu for a genuine travel adventure in Bhaktapur. Every dirt road, crooked building and Temple will take you to a time read only in books.
Travel Destination – Bhaktapur
One of my favourite travel photos from Bhaktapur. Ganesh, the hen, and a sleeping dog. They all seem perfectly aligned in front of the weathered brick wall. Of the areas around Kathmandu, Bhaktapur was the one place that captivated me the most as it seemed to be a step back in time.
Consider these interesting facts about Bhaktapur, Nepal ::
Bhaktapur—locally known as Khwopa—is world renowned for its elegant art, fabulous culture and indigenous lifestyle. For its majestic monuments, colourful festivals and the native Newars best known for their long history of craftsmanship, the ancient city is also variously known as the “City of Culture”, the “Living Heritage” and “Nepal’s Cultural Gem”. Given such unequalled opulence in ancient art and culture, Bhaktapur is more like an open museum, and the ambience here is such that it instantly transports visitors back by centuries the moment they step into its territory.
Bhaktapur has its gem in the Durbar Square—a World Heritage site listed by the UNESCO. Strewn with unique palaces, temples and monasteries best admired for their exquisite artworks in wood, metal and stone, the palatial enclave has bewitched pilgrims and travellers for centuries. Yet, they are not all though. Adding to the mesmerizing environs is the holy Himalaya that makes the backdrop of the city. Stretching all along the township, the panoramic Himalaya levitates in the skyline as if to keep vigilance on the city’s enviable beauty and splendour.
Bhaktapur, at 1,401 meters above sea level, spreads over an area of 6.88 square kilometres. It grows from a collection of villages strung along the old trade route between India and Tibet. The capital city of the Greater Malla Kingdom till the 15th century AD, Bhaktapur was founded in the 12th century by King Ananda Malla, but it was only in the early 18th century that this city took its present shape. It was at that time that many of Bhaktapur’s greatest monuments were built by the then Malla rulers.
Monumental masterpieces in Bhaktapur are innumerable, and each is more attractive than the other. Mostly terra-cotta structures supported by carved wooden columns, elaborately carved struts, windows and doors, gilded roofs and pinnacles, open spacious courts all around and, above all, the fascinating divine images presiding over the monument—many edifices have many things in common, yet their varied shape, size and designs make the one even more wondrous than the other. Furthermore, each of their components reflects the religious belief, social outlook and the economic status of the builders, and the monuments in all carry along a rich artistic tradition of the native Newars.
In Bhaktapur, visitors confront a smaller or larger monument almost at every ten or twenty steps. Perhaps stunned by the clusters of monuments, a visitor in the past had admired the Kathmandu Valley, saying that “every other building (in the Valley) is a temple and every other day a festival”. The proportion, owing to continual external invasions and natural calamities, might have changed over centuries, yet the presence of variously shaped and sized monuments in Bhaktapur is still awe-inspiring. The world-famous Nyataponla Temple, Bhairavnath Temple, Taleju Temple, 55-Window Palace, Golden Gate, Golden Faucet, Big Bell, Yaksheswor Mahadev Temple, Dattatreya Temple, Peacock Window, Taja Math, Pujari Math, Wakupati Narayan Temple, Nava Durga Temple, Chandeswori Temple, Barahi Temple, Bharbacho Gate, Terra-cotta Windows and Nepal’s largest Shiva Lingum at Hanumanghat, and such historic ponds as Ta-Pukhu, Na-Pukhu, Bhajya-Pukhu and Bahre-Pukhu (Kamal Pokhari) are simply a few among many that embellish the city’s brick- and stone-paved squares, courtyards and open fields. Besides, the presence of a great many Buddhist monuments, many of them rubbing shoulders with Hindu shrines, simply reaffirms the age-old Nepalese tradition of social harmony and religious tolerance among its peace-loving populace. Because of this time-tested tradition, Bhaktapur’s well known Lokeswor Mahavihar, Prasannasheel Mahavihar, Chatu Brahma Mahavihar, Jaya Kirti Mahavihar, Sukra-Varna Mahavihar, Dipanker Mahavihar and many other Buddhist shrines have been the places of esteem and adoration for the Hindus alike.
Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square is the gem not only of Bhaktapur but also of the entire nation. The fascinating structure here is the world-renowned 55-Window Palace. The elaborately carved windows and doors are something that visitors simply cannot help admiring. The seat of royalty before 1769 AD, the building now houses the National Art Gallery—the museum better known for its rich collection of paubha scroll paintings and breathtaking artworks in stone.
The world-famous Golden Gate rubs shoulders with the 55-Window Palace. An unparalleled specimen of repousse art dating back to 1756, it is the entrance to the marvellous Taleju Temple Complex. Getting into it leads to a number of artistically designed chowks (courtyards) including the Royal Bath, which is adorned with the well-admired Golden Faucet among others.
Another artwork that unfailing-ly bewitches visitors in the Square is the Big Bell. Big enough to match its name, the bell was erected by Ranajit Malla (r. 1722-1769), Bhaktapur’s last Malla king. It was used in those days for paying homage to Goddess Taleju, the lineage deity of Malla rulers, as well as to call assemblies of the citizens to discuss on given subjects concerning the state. Today, it is rung twice a day as a mark of tribute to the goddess. Right next to it is a smaller Barking Bell. To one’s surprise, all dogs around it start whining the moment it is run by its caretaker.
The Yaksheswor Mahadev Temple equally adds to the Square’s unparalleled beauty. Named after its builder king, Yaksha Malla (r. 1428-82), the two-storied pagoda was constructed after Kathmandu’s world famous Pashupatinath temple. It is noted for its wooden struts full of erotic carvings.
Other notable monuments in and around the historic Durbar Square are the octagonal Chyasin Mandap, Siddhi Laxmi Temple, Shiva Temple (Fasi-dega), Vatsala Temple, Bhandarkhal Complex, Chatu Brahma Mahavihar, Indrayani Temple, Balakhu Ganesh Temple, Tripura-Sundari Temple and the Char Dham symbolizing the four greatest Hindu pilgrimage sites.
The Nyataponla Temple presides over the Taumadhi Square. Dating back to 1702 AD, the colossal five-storied edifice is the country’s tallest pagoda temple. The struts, doors, windows and tympanums—each embellished with attractively carved divine figures—perfectly portray the creative tradition of Newar craftsmen. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Siddhi Laxmi, the manifestation of female force and creativity. The latest major renovation of this monument was carried out in 1997 AD by Bhaktapur Municipality using the revenue it collected from tourists.
Next to the Nyataponla Temple is the rectangular shaped Bhairavnath Temple. It houses a gilded bust of Bhairav, the ferocious manifestation of Lord Shiva. The three-storied pagoda was razed to the grounds by the 1934-earthquake, and its latest renovation was undertaken by Bhaktapur Municipality in 1995 AD.
The enclosed complex facing the Nyataponla Temple is dedicated to Tilmadhav Narayan, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu, who is one of the Supreme Triumvirate of Hindu pantheon. A few steps ahead of it, to the southwest, lies the famous Pottery Square, where visitors can see the city’s well-known potters making variously shaped and sized earthenware. The major monumental highlight of this square is a temple of Jeth Ganesh, which dates back to the 14th century.
The Dattatreya Square is Bhaktapur’s third dazzling gem. The seat of royalty till the 15th century, the area still houses a great number of historic monuments including many wondrous Maths (residential mansions) and temples.
The Dattatreya Temple is the main attraction of the Square. Constructed by King Yaksha Malla, the giant three-storied temple is believed to have been built with the stem of a single tree. Having defied series of calamities, it still bears testimony to the incredible achievement made in those regal days of the Nepalese history.
The Wane Layaku complex, which lies to the south-western corner of the Dattatreya temple, is noted for Bhaktapur’s second Taleju shrine. Enclosed with old houses, the courtyard sees throngs of people, especially during the Mohani (Dashain) festival, when a rare Ghau-batacha (Water Clock) is put on public display. During the Malla Era, the water-clock was used by the then rulers and astrologers for fixing “propitious moments” for commencing and concluding various state and social ceremonies.
The Peacock Window, which is also called the “Mona Lisa of Nepal”, is a rare masterpiece in wood. Dating back to the early 15th century, the unique latticed window has an intricately carved peacock in its centre. The window adorns the Pujari Math which, with rows of exquisitely carved windows and doors, is equally appealing. The building presently houses the Woodcarving Museum. The museum has a rich collection of unique pieces in wood.
The Brass & Bronze Museum, housed in the historic Chikanpha Math, is the next highlight of the Square. It has a wide collection of bronze and brasswares including the ritual jars, utensils, water vessels, pots, spittoons and similar other household items.
Near the Dattatreya Square is the Wakupati Narayan Temple. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the two-storied structure is a unique specimen of pagoda architecture. Next to it is Bhaktapur’s second Pottery Square.
Primrose Hill is a hill of 213 feet (65 m) located on the northern side of Regent’s Park in London, and also the name was given to the surrounding district. The hill summit has a clear view of central London, as well as Hampstead and Belsize Park to the north and is adorned by an engraved quotation from William Blake. Nowadays it is one of the most exclusive and expensive residential areas in London and is home to many prominent residents.
For a nice overview of Central London, Primrose Hill should be on your list of things to do. The area sits high enough to view from the London Eye to Canary Wharf in one sweeping view. What I find most interesting is from the London Eye to Canary Wharf London seems no longer/larger than the Las Vegas Strip. I need to investigate the distances of both to see if my eyes are deceiving me.
Directions to Primrose Hill from Chalk Farm Tube Station:: Chalk Farm Tube Stop is probably easiest if during the evening: When you leave the Underground Station, head West up Adelaide Road, first left up the gill and over the bridge. Decent pub on the left if you need a refreshing drink. Then veer right down the middle road of three (Regents Park Road) and follow it around. Queens Pub at the end of the road before the park is great.
Map showing Chalk Farm Underground Station to Primrose Hill
Directions to Primrose Hill From Regent’s Park Tube Station :: 1. From Regent’s Park tube, enter the park via Park Square East and turn left on to the path heading clockwise. 2. Follow the path around the outer edge of the boating lake and turn right at the top of the lake, past the cafe. 3. Cross the footbridge and take the outermost path round to St Mark’s bridge. 4. Walk over the bridge and go down Prince Albert Road to Primrose Hill. 5. Walk clockwise around the edge of Primrose Hill and head up the slope on the outer path. 6. Towards the top, come off the path to walk around the playing fields to your left, rejoining the path again at Elsworthy Terrace. 7. Walk alongside the wall to the corner of Primrose Hill Road. 8. Take the path up to the top of the hill. 9. Walk down back to where you first entered the park. 10. Repeat this loop around Primrose Hill. 11. After the second loop, go back across the bridge to Regent’s Park and walk down the Broadwalk about 1.2km to the ornamental gardens. 12. At the end of the ornamental gardens, turn left and exit the park to walk back to Regent’s Park tube.
Map showing Regent’s Park Underground Station to Primrose Hill
I headed up to catch the blue hour as London’s night lights were turning on – not quite night photography, but close enough with the splendid views. You can see the view from Primrose Hill in the photos below.
With Valentine’s days away, why not learn how to say I Love You around the world? This tip is invaluable if you find the love of your life in a foreign country and feel the need to blurt the words before thinking. Love can happen anywhere if you let it. But, what if you can’t say I love you in the right language? Your love at first sight moment could turn into the one that got away.
Years ago I wanted to tell my housekeeper I appreciated the job she did and I wanted to give her some time off to reward her. The housekeeper spoke only Spanish and I only knew a few choice Spanish words. Read into this, I could not complete a coherent sentence in the housekeeper’s language. So, I used a free translation website so I could tell her just what I shared with you. How clever, right?
I wrote the words down on a clean sheet of paper, then shuffled across the house to tell her she’s done a great job and she deserved a holiday. After the words came out of my mouth in what I thought was a symphony of Spanish, she burst into tears, flung the dust cleaner across the room, then forcibly shoved the sofa against the wall with a crushing and deadly blow to my cat. Moments later she burst out the front door and I never saw her again.
Needless to say, the free translation website was wrong, which then meant I was wrong in what I said. I lost my cat. I lost the housekeeper. She was a bit moody on a normal day but had I known the language, or enough of it, the horrific day wouldn’t have happened. My example is a bit off the wall but explains the need to know the language when you’re trying to say something important. By the way, I miss my cat more.
To help you celebrate a successful Valentine’s Day, here are 49 ways to say I Love You in a foreign language. Whether you’re travelling or you simply want to impress your lover, you can now express your love and desire in a variety of ways.
360 View of White Sands National Monument. The endless sea of white sand dunes and the Sacramento Mountains of Southern New Mexico are in full view.
Before there was an actual 360 Degree Camera, there was me with a small video cam physically turning 360 degrees until my head would spin and I’d nearly fall to the ground. Visualise this. True story and this is how I captured the video seen in this post.
By now, everyone knows the affection I have for White Sands. Now with more photographic and video armoury in my caché, I’ll return to this great sand dune area for updates.
According to the National Park Service – Sand can only be moved by strong, steady winds. The air must be moving at least 17 miles per hour to be able to pick up sand grains. In the Tularosa Basin, it is primarily between February and April that the winds are strong enough. These winds are called unidirectional winds because they always move in the same direction, from the southwest to the northeast. As the wind blows, it pushes the sand ahead of it, so individual dunes are slowly moving to the northeast.
Sand is not as easy to move as you might think. Even very strong winds can’t lift the sand any higher than three feet above the ground. As the wind blows, it lifts small sand grains a few inches off the ground, then drops them. When they hit the ground, they bump into other sand grains and cause them to jump up and be caught by the wind. It’s almost as if the sand is playing leap-frog, jumping and bumping along. This kind of jumping movement is called saltation. You can see this kind of movement on the windward side of the dune, or the side facing the oncoming wind. But what about the leeward side of the dune, protected from blowing wind? What causes the sand to move on that side?
As the tiny sand grains slowly work their way up the windward dune face, they finally reach the crest or top of the dune. They fall over the crest and start to pile up because they are protected from the wind. Now gravity steps in to move the dune. As more and more sand grains pile up, the angle of the leeward face becomes steeper and steeper. A pile of loose material, like sand, can only hold a slope of about 34 degrees. When the slope gets greater than 34 degrees, gravity pulls the loose sand down. Small avalanches occur. The sand might run down the leeward face like a waterfall, or the whole side might slip at once. When the entire face of the dune slips, it’s called slumping.
How fast a sand dune moves depends on a number of things. Of course, the speed of the wind is a big factor. A wind that is blowing 45 miles per hour will move more sand than at 17 miles per hour. The size of the dune is also important. Smaller dunes with less sand move much more quickly than large ones. The vegetation also plays an important role. The dunes get caught on the plants that grow in the basin, and that slows them down.
There are 4 types of dunes at White Sands National Monument. The first ones to form, the “baby” dunes, are called embryonic dunes. They are usually not more than 20 feet. high, and speed along the basin floor as much as 40 feet a year. Transverse dunes form long ridges of sand and can be very tall. They move much more slowly – usually between 8 to 12 feet a year. Barchan dunes are crescent-shaped. This sand dune looks like a new moon. The arms or horns of the barchan dune always point in the direction the wind is blowing. Barchan dunes are also very large and move between 8 and 12 feet per year. The last type is called a parabolic dune and looks like an inside-out barchan dune. The movement of this dune has been slowed down by vegetation, and rarely moves more than 5 feet per year.
Obviously, I’ve visited White Sands often. What strikes me most is the dunes are never the same each time I’m there. The power of nature is awe-inspiring.
Map Showing The Location of White Sands National Monument ::