It was six years ago when I hiked out to these dunes in Death Valley before dawn with my little girl by my side. She was excited to see the sun rise over the dunes and in a rare move she enthusiastically got out of bed early for this event. We hiked deep into the sand dunes while it was still dark, which is not exactly easy walking. It was a 40 minute hike to try to get as far from the road as possible where there would not be any footprints in the sand that would pollute the photo. As the eastern horizon began to glow we found this spot featuring a long leading line that curved back and forth and grew in height. We set up the camera and tripod together and waited for the sun to rise while chewing on protein bars and drinking bottled water. We shared in a heartfelt conversation about the sun, shadows, nature, and the movement of sand from the wind. And then it happened. The sun crested over the top of the distant mountains to the east and bathed the dunes in a warm orange light. The cold dawn air instantly turned into warmth. My little girl looked through the viewfinder and clicked the shutter of the camera. When I looked at the image that was just taken I knew that this was the one. It was a magical sunrise that I will never forget.
This photo sat silently on my hard drive for six years until I just discovered it last night. It brings back the most precious of memories for me and gives this photo the highest possible level of meaning.