This starkly desolate view could be from an alien planet of extreme cold, where the “sand” is water ice or frozen CO2 grains piled into dunes. It could be our own White Sands National Monument under moonlight. The latter is closer to the truth, but not quite there. Since I couldn’t go on a brightly moonlit night, I took advantage of the fortuitous opportunity to emulate that condition. How? It was surprisingly easy, using a deep zoom lens, a dark storm core over the San Andres Mountains in the background, and exposing for the brightest areas of outflow-wind-blown, dune-top gypsum sand. The latter darkened the rest of the image a little, and softened the sunlight already somewhat muted by anvil cirrus. Voila, pseudo-nighttime at White Sands! No special Photoshop or filtering tricks either…this is how the scene really looked through the viewfinder, just in that small, zoomed-in postage stamp.