This of course applies to any other sand dunes as well, but the Mesquite sand dunes are quite popular and accessible. Traversing sand dunes is complicated. In order to get to a good location, you have to walk to it, which leaves footprints behind you wherever you go. To get to the top of one dune to photograph another means more or less ruining the dune (at least for photo purposes) you’re standing on. Here’s a few quick tips that I’ve implemented to leave as small of a (literal) footprint as possible when photographing these natural wonders.
1) When walking out into the dunes, try and and stay between them as much as possible. In other words, if you have a dune to your right and another to your left, walk along the lowest point in-between them. This keeps the dunes pristine and photo worthy for you or anyone else that comes behind you.
2) Only cross over dune ridges when absolutely necessary. I see so many photographers out at these dunes just walking along the ridges wherever they go, leaving a path of destruction behind them.
3) Look for dunes that have already been trampled and climb them for vantage points when possible.
4) If you must walk along the ridge of a dune, walk on the smooth side instead of on the ridge itself. This will still keep the dune pristine on at least one side.
5) The only reason to summit a dune is to get a vantage point, so out of respect to other photographers, do this sparingly. In the photo below, I eventually made my way up this ridge with our workshop group. However, once we got to this point we stopped because this was our composition. No need to keep climbing and ruin this dunes beauty.
Let me know if you have any additional tips, thoughts or comments!