Saturday, May 26, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 12

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on January 1st, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 43 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 14, Issue 43

Art all around: Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center hosts photography hike


The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes offer photographers a chance to capture the contrast of bright sand and dark waters.

A sand dune seems like a pretty simple thing; a big pile of sand that moves around when the wind blows. It’s not until spending some time with a sand dune that it begins to reveal the complex mystery and beauty that all of nature holds to those with keen enough eyes to see it.

Local photographer Jules Reuter retired to the Central Coast just to be close to the dunes and their peaceful mystery. A Hollywood television editor, Reuter would drive up the coast decades ago on weekends to escape the busy city and spend time with nature. He began dabbling in photography in earnest around the same time.

“The photography was always a way for me to relax and show the beauty that is in nature in a simple way,” he said. “I try to get simplicity in my photographs, and patterns always attract me.”

Hike leader Jules Reuter enjoys capturing the complex patterns in the dunes and conveying them in a simple way through various techniques that he shares on the hike.

Reuter, inspired by the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, has perfected capturing the dunes with his lens. Much of his artwork has sold in benefit of the Dunes Center, raising funds to help support its many educational and ecological programs. Reuter is a board member of the Dunes Center, but also a volunteer; he leads the center’s photography hikes, including the upcoming photography hike on Jan. 11.

“I’ve led hikes for the Santa Maria Camera Club, the San Luis Obispo Camera Club. I’ve led hikes of tourists from Japan who came with an interpreter,” he said. “It’s really fun and it’s interesting because you meet people from all walks of life.”

A Spanish language interpreter will be on hand for the free hike so Reuter can relate to as many participants as possible. He accepts all levels of photographers, from beginners to advance shooters.

“I emphasize composition, structure, exposures—everything to make sure you make good photographs that have an impact on the viewers,” he said. “I also talk about big world versus small world; you could take a picture of a six-inch dune and it will look enormous.”

Dunes Center board member, photographer, and volunteer Jules Reuter welcomes all levels of photographers on his hikes, which offer insights to beginners and advanced artists.

Depending on the weather, the dunes may provide starkly different patterns, Reuter explained. From the wavy patterns of the windblown sand to the crusty-looking corners of the dunes after a rain, the patterns display light in interesting ways, especially as the sun is going down.

“The winter months are the best time; because of the low angles of the sun you get longer shadows,” he said. “You get more drama in the photographs, which is something I love.”

Reuter enjoys shooting in black and white on the dunes, though he uses color a lot as well. He recommends participants bring a tripod, if they don’t mind carrying one.

“Part of what makes the dunes such a special place is it lets us slow down and be at peace,” he said, “and I think that attitude really affects the photographs.”

Capture the dunes
The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center presents “Photography in the Dunes,” a hike led by photographer Jules Reuter on Jan. 11 at 3 p.m., meeting at the Pacific Dunes Ranch Resort, 1205 Silver Spur Place, Oceano. A bus leaves from the Dunes Center in Guadalupe at 2:30 p.m. More information is available at 343-2455 or

The comfort of the hike will also affect the quality of the work, so the Dunes Center recommends everyone bring a hat, sunscreen, and water. Good walking or hiking shoes are recommended as well, as walking in loose sand for more than two hours is quite a workout. But being on the dunes when the sun is in the west is worth all the sore calf muscles and possible sunburn if you manage to capture one great image.

“The sands change every day and the light changes every day,” Reuter said. “I consider the dunes a spiritual place; you can kind of get away from the manmade world and be somewhere that has existed for millions of years.”


Arts Editor Joe Payne wants to feel the post-dunes hike leg burn. Contact him at

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