Whether you’re making your annual drive through the Mojave Desert in Utah or trekking across the Sahara on a once-in-a-lifetime photography trip, any time that you’re lucky enough to spend in a desert environment shouldn’t be wasted. Desert pictures are some of the most gorgeous you’ll ever capture, so remember these photography tips and tricks to make the best of your desert landscape photos!

Catching Natural Patterns

The nature of sand is that it is easily moved, and the gusts and breezes in the desert tend to whip those grains into naturally gorgeous patterns, lines and designs that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The harsh daylight sun of the desert also helps to make these patterns more distinguishable, as sharp shadows are often an integral part of a unique sand shot.

Although it’s tempting to point your camera up and out when looking out across the vast expanses of the desert, do yourself a favor and look down every once in a while. Dunes are particularly good for finding gorgeous isometric designs – but snap quickly, as one gust of wind will change them forever.

Chasing the Light

Every photographer worth his or her salt (or sand, in this case) knows that the very best hours to catch stunning photos are the hours after sunrise and before sunset–and this is true in the desert more than anywhere else. Relatively flat landscapes, cloud-less skies and crystal clear air make for absolutely inimitable desert pictures when the light is just right, so make sure you don’t miss the best hours of the day.

Warning: It tends to be incredibly dark and cold in most deserts before and after the sun rises and sets. While you’ll want to get up before dawn and stay photographing until just after the sun sneaks away for the night, make sure that you’re properly prepared for the rapidly changing situation. Ensure that you know where your car or base camp is, and take a powerful torch as well as some warm clothes and a compass. Flares are also useful in emergency situations, and take something sugary to keep you going just in case you do get lost. Be careful out there!

Watch out for that Damn Sand

If it comes as a surprise to you that every minute that you spend in the desert gets you a new mouthful of horribly dry sand and eyes that feel like they’ve got gravel in them, then you might not have really understood what a desert was. However, while sand is just annoying to you, it can prove fatal to your camera, so looking after your equipment is going to be very important while you’re in the desert.

While packing for your desert photography trip, be sure to take an air blower so that you can clean out your camera every night, and be sure to have a camera bag that can be properly zipped up to keep the sand out. Keep your camera in your bag as much as possible, and wrap it in a dust cloth or something similar so that it’s also protected when you’re shooting. A cheap filter will help to keep your lens from getting scratched, and never, ever change your lens out in the desert. Oh, and it might not be worth taking a tripod; sand isn’t the most stable of surfaces! 

Do you have some inspiring desert landscape photos? Upload them to the PicsArt gallery using the tag “desert”!