It's important to be mindful of the shots you want before you walk into frame, otherwise your footprints will possibly ruin a great shot!

Photo by: Ian Shive

Ian Shive

Protecting Sand Dunes Helps Wildlife

Nature photography is often about storytelling, and not just making pretty pictures (though it's important to make time to do just that, too!). And the Oceano Dunes have quite the story.

December 06, 2021

At Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, California, there is a story developing about the use of outdoor recreation vehicles, such as cars, dirt bikes, and ATVs driving on the beach, and the need to conserve the beach areas for nesting seabirds and wildlife.

Nature in Focus | The Sand Dunes of Oceano 04:25

The Sand Dunes of Oceano are out of this world! Home to some incredible wildlife, it is also a recreational area for camping and exploring. Experience the beauty of the Oceano Dunes through the lens of conservationist and nature photographer, Ian Shive and learn about the challenges the land is facing.

New legislation has called into question whether outdoor recreation will be allowed to continue as it currently is, steeply curtailing or in some cases, eliminating vehicles in areas. At first, it seems like the right thing to do, especially when you see tire tracks all over the beach and people racing around at top speed through the sand. At the same time, it opens a bigger question of how humans interact with the environment, and specifically around outdoor recreation. Do we visit and enjoy and love places too much? Is it fair to eliminate family traditions of camping on the beach?

As a photographer, my goal isn't to take a position but to document both sides of the issue. The areas behind the fence, where there are nothing but footprints, and the areas where you can camp and drive vehicles. It's my hope that the images I create will provide a visual context for the story as it develops. In the meantime, you can never go wrong documenting sand dunes, which are one of the most beautiful natural formations on our planet, and a personal favorite to explore my creative side!

Ian Shive

Ian Shive is a photographer, author, film and television producer, and conservationist who has been praised as the “leading chronicler of America’s national parks.”

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