Stella DeSha Thomas Gallery Desert White Photopaintings by Marden Paul


M a r d e n    P a u l    i s . .

. . . a computer nerd at the University of Toronto. He does find some time to escape his cubicle for treks to his favourite states; New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Many of his friends think he should stop going back to the same place every yearóas he has since 1993 (with the exception of 1995-96) óbut he is resolute. Why? Because he likes it there!

He uses a Nikon FE with a 28mm wide angle lens , a 55 mm regular lens, and a 135mm telephoto and plain old Kodak over-the-counter film.

You may reach him at marden.paul@utoronto.ca


D e s e r t    W h i t e

White Sands National Monument sits at the southern end of New Mexico in the Tularosa Basin. White Sands is 275 square miles of shifting dunes composed of gypsum. So white "sand" is not quite true.

These photographs were taken in truly surreal weather conditions. The temperature was above 90 degrees and heavy clouds covered the region. But the strangest aspect of the day was the wind speed. It was above 40 mph according the Park Ranger. When you have "sand" and dunes and very little vegetation, the wind carries the surface away before your eyes. Because of the heavy cloud and the way the light engulfed the area, you could see the gypsum grains blowing away about 4 inches above the dune surface. In my mind I hear a whistling sound and spooky music as you might expect to hear when Captain Kirk visits a strange new world.

Driving along the road leading to various parts of the park you get the very Canadian feeling of driving on snow. The gypsum covers everything and including the road surface. Seeing the white expanse causes an innate sensation of driving on snow and even though itís as dry as the moon. You feel like a skid might occur with the slightest provocation of the brake pedal.

We stayed at White Sands for 9 hours, watching the dunes move under the relentless wind. It felt as if we were being sand-blasted. If you put your hand on the ground, the wind would pick up all the gypsum around your hand, and then commence to blow away the material underneath. In about 5 minutes, your handís support blew away.

When I first looked at these pictures I couldnít tell which way was up. Try turning them over in your head. Or turn over your monitor. Or stand on your head. Amazing?!

In Desert White 1 (left thumb on Table of Contents page) I wanted to get the edge of the dune. Itís razor-sharp and it moves forward as more gypsum is blown over the edge.

The middle-photo, Desert White 2, gives an impression of the areaís vastness. You can look in all directions and see nothing but dunes and gypsum in the air. Especially on windy days. In this photo, the dunes and the clouds in the sky mix together, removing the signs of up and down, earth and sky. Itís very disorienting.

The photo on the right of the content's page, Desert White 3, was taken as the sun began to set. The colour of light is softer and this is portrayed in the rounded shapes of the dunes in the distance. The ripples and waves of the earlier photos are not so apparent.



See Marden Paul's Bryce Canyon and Canyonography.

To contact Marden Paul, please cut & paste this address into an email: marden.paul@utoronto.ca

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