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THE Traveler: Steven Nodgaard of Columbia Heights.

The scene: A cloudy day cast soft light on White Sands National Monument in the New Mexico's Chihuahuan Desert. Such lighting "brings the most out of this barren, but interesting landscape," Nodgaard wrote in an e-mail. He was near the backcountry camping area when he took this photograph.

The trip: Nodgaard and his wife stopped at the national monument during a road trip through the Southwest. "We love the diverse landscapes of New Mexico for a break in the Minnesota winters," he wrote.

Destination details: White Sands is "known for its dramatic landscape of rare white gypsum sand dunes," Nodgaard wrote. The dunes there cover 275 square miles, making this the largest gypsum dune field on Earth. "Extreme fluctuations of heat and cold can be experienced on any given day. Be prepared for tough walking in loose sands when you venture into the backcountry," he added.

equipment: This photo was taken with a Nikon D300. The dunes, constantly in flux, provide photographers "endless possibilities," Nodgaard said.

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