Sand Dunes, Sunrise, Death Valley National Monument, California

Accession Number

Sand Dunes, Sunrise, Death Valley National Monument, California

Ansel Adams

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
1948; printed 1980

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

17 15/16 in x 14 3/16 in (45.56 cm x 36.04 cm);28 1/8 in x 22 3/16 in (71.44 cm x 56.36 cm);32 1/4 in x 26 1/4 in (81.92 cm x 66.68 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Harry H. Lunn, Jr.

Subject matter
Taken at dawn, this photograph shows an expanse of sand dunes in the raking morning light.  The dawn illuminates the silken, windswept surface of foremost dune’s slope, while its other side remains in shadow. The two slopes of the dune meet at an exact point, which forms a sinuous, almost serpentine line that meanders vertically away from the viewer.  Light spills over this ridge, softly illuminating the striated patterns in the sand.  The contrast of the light and dark dunes create a composition of interlocking shapes, their hard edges abutting one another. Rising pyramid-like in the distance, another dune is enveloped in deep shadow, which lends a sense of ominous magnificence to the scene.

Physical Description
The photograph depicts an expanse of sand dunes in the morning light.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

dawn (time of day)
desert climate
modern and contemporary art
natural landscapes
nature photography
sand areas
sandy deserts

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted