Death Valley Workshop2019-12-20T15:46:23-05:00

Death Valley March 2021

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Welcome to Your Next Adventure!

Death Valley is one of the most surreal landscapes imaginable featuring massive salt flats, sweeping sand dunes, and dramatic mud cracks hidden across the landscape.   March is a great time for wildflowers which dot the desert landscape with color.  This adventure will also feature the iconic Alabama Hills, and seeing Mount Whitney at dawn is an experience you truly won’t want to miss!  At the end, we will unwind in exciting Las Vegas – a dazzling playland of lights and surreal environments to photograph and explore by night.

This is a licensed, insured and federally permitted workshop.  The focus will always be on hitting the right location at the right time to catch the best light.  Uniquely, this is one of the only photo workshops that will include a visit to one of the most remote and yet most stunning areas of Death Valley – Eureka Dunes!

As many of you know, my personal focus has always been on making travel affordable and this workshop is no different.  To keep costs low, there will be no formal classroom time; however, at each and every location I will be there to provide guidance on composition and settings as necessary.  Dates are TBD, but the time to pre-book is now!  This trip sells out every year!  Below is a tentative itinerary, but because the emphasis is on finding the right light for every subject the schedule may change to achieve this.

Key Details

Dates:

March 2021 (6 days/6 nights) – DATES TBD

Price:  $1,075

Why You Should Reserve Your Spot Now:

  Small group       Sells out quickly      ✓  Cheaper than going alone        Expert guide

  Because sometimes in life, you should just say yes!

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Day 1


We will meet in Las Vegas at McCarren International Airport and depart for Death Valley no later than 11am.  Traveling in a spacious passenger van, we will arrive in Death Valley with plenty of time to settle into our rooms and have a quick orientation before driving to Badwater Basin for sunset.  Badwater Basin, simply put, is one of the most surreal landscapes you will ever witness.  The hexagonal formations on the salt flats create whimsical patterns on the pure white surface which reflect the colors of the sunset.  This is the perfect place to break out the wide angle lens and get creative with your foreground.

Day 2


We will wake before the sun and drive a short distance to see the iconic sunrise at Zabriski Point.  This is one of those images that you just have to have from Death Valley and it will be immediately clear why it’s so popular with tourists and professional photographers alike.  From this view point, dozens of colors meld together in time-worn patterns creating a kaleidoscope before your eyes.  Once the sun is up, we will explore some of the other nearby areas and hunt for wildflowers.

During late afternoon we will take advantage of the softer light to visit the beautiful Artist’s Palette formation.  At this location, vivid colors of teal and purple explode from the earth creating a truly dream-like landscape.  This is an ideal location to explore more abstract compositions as you follow trails through the maze of colors.  Before sunset, we will make the short trip to some of the mud cracks to take advantage of the dark and dramatic shadows in the cracks.  As with the previous night, if the sky is clear and the moon is bright we will have an optional adventure for those of us who are night owls to play with the moonlight.

Day 3


Sunrise will be spent capturing the alpenglow on the mountains and making use of unique foregrounds like the gnarled trees, salt formations, and mud cracks.  After breakfast, we will check out of our ranch and embark on an awesome journey deep into the remote north of Death Valley.  Along the way we will be accompanied by vast stretches of mountains, fields of wildflowers and epic volcanic craters.  After passing through a jaw-dropping mountain pass we will descend into a valley to discover the impressive Eureka Dunes nestled into the imposing desert mountains.  This is a remote area that is rarely visited by tourists but it features one of Death Valley’s most impressive features.  The Eureka Dunes stand nearly 700 ft. tall and are among the tallest sand dunes in North America.  The wind sweeps them into graceful arcs and because of their remote location there are rarely any footprints to disturb the slopes.  We will explore these dunes until the last light fades before driving the remaining distance to Lone Pine – home of the epic Alabama Hills.

Day 4


We will wake early in the morning to get in the perfect position for the iconic sunrise over the Alabama Hills.  When the first light brushes the tops of the mountains, it will bee immediately apparent why this location drew the master Ansel Adams to photograph it.  After sunrise we will explore fun compositions with the surrounding whimsical rock formations before heading into the charming town of Lone Pine.

For sunset, we will head to the famous Mobius Arch where the imposing Mount Whitney is perfectly visible encircled in a stone window.  If the sky is clear and the moon is bright, we will also have an optional opportunity to photograph the moonlight on Mount Whitney which is always a pleasure.

Day 5


For sunrise, we will explore different sunrise locations among the Alabama Hills to test out new compositions.  Following breakfast, we will begin our journey back into Death Valley.  This drive is truly breathtaking and will take us through impressive mountain passes with sweeping views across the desert.  After checking into our rooms, we will explore the iconic Mesquite Dunes for golden hour and sunset.  If the sky is clear it’s a perfect opportunity to photograph the moonlight over the dunes.  These photos are particularly great in black and white and allow you to explore abstract interpretations of the shapes and lines before you.

Day 6


For sunrise I will guide you to my favorite location at Mesquite Dunes which will take you away from the crowds of people and trampled dunes to a pristine area perfect to capture that golden morning light.  As the sun glitters off the sand, we will soak in our last magical morning in Death Valley.  After breakfast we will check out of our hotel and drive back to Las Vegas stopping along the way to enjoy the remaining sights.

Las Vegas, for all its ostentatiousness, is a great location for us to gather together and share some laughs and memories over dinner.  Our hotel is right on the strip in a prime location, and Las Vegas is quite a lot of fun to explore and practice urban night photography.  After dinner, you will be on your own devices to explore the city as you wish.

Departure


In the morning I will gladly drive you to the airport if it is prearranged, or you may use the hotel shuttle service if you wish.

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Price and Dates


Dates:

March 2021 (6 days/6 nights) – DATES TBD

Price:  $1,075

Payment and Cancellation Policy:

Because my goal is to make travel accessible and affordable to ALL adventurers, I am offering two options for flexible payment.

Option 1:  Pay a 50% deposit at the time of booking.  The remaining balance is due 90 days before the start of the workshop.  After this date the deposit becomes nonrefundable in the event of a cancellation.

Option 2:  Design a payment plan.  Pay a deposit in an amount you choose no less than 10% of the full price at the time of booking.  The remaining balance can be paid in monthly installments that we agree on.  If you choose this flexible option, the deposit and payments are nonrefundable.

  • Refer a friend for a $50 discount!  Refer as many friends as you like!
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What is Included:

  • Transportation in a spacious van with both AC and heat.
  • Accommodation for the duration of the workshop.  Rooms will be double occupancy (single occupancy may be available in some locations for an additional fee, but this cannot be guaranteed).
  • Breakfast each day which will consist of fruit, bagels and other light fare (except for in Las Vegas).  Other breakfast options are available for purchase.
  • Light lunch during the days visiting Eureka Dunes.
  • Field guidance and instruction for finding good composition and foregrounds as well as managing your camera settings.
  • Individual attention and assistance as necessary and feedback upon request.  It is my intention to help, but not hover.

What is Not Included:

  • Airfare to and from Las Vegas (McCarran International Airport).
  • Lunch and dinner each day (though snacks will be available some days).
  • Snacks are very important for maintaining your energy throughout the day (before departing for Death Valley we will stop at a grocery store so you may purchase snacks for the trip).
  • Alcoholic beverages.

My Transparency Pledge

The table below is an honest cost comparison of this workshop against competitors.  My goal is to make travel accessible for everyone!  This means I am experience-driven rather than profit-driven.

Special Notes


Flights

Please plan your flights carefully!  You may need to fly into Las Vegas the day before the workshop begins so you can rest and not risk missing our departure time.  If you choose to do so, I am happy to suggest a number of hotels but this accommodation will not be included in the workshop price.  Regarding departure, if you wish to skip the last night in Las Vegas and take an evening flight home, please communicate with me so I can ensure you make your flight.  In this event, the workshop price can be adjusted to pass the savings on to you.

Disclaimer and Weather

My goal is for you to return home with amazing images of all the incredible subjects Death Valley has to offer.  However, I cannot control the weather.  Although rain is very rare and the skies are typically clear during this time of year, I cannot guarantee perfect weather for  the duration of the workshop.  Though inclement weather may present a challenge, it may also present great opportunities to capture interesting light and weather events and to think creatively.

The climate is generally comfortable in Death Valley during March with a daytime high around 85°F and a nighttime low around 55°F.  The Alabama Hills can be a bit colder.  Your accommodations will always be climate controlled as will the van which provides ample opportunities to warm up.  Check the “What to Bring” section for more helpful tips.

The schedule above is only tentative and may change and adapt to accommodate the weather and pursue ideal lighting conditions.  If conditions are unsuitable for shooting, we will use that time constructively to work on editing and feedback together.  No time will go to waste and, although I cannot be responsible for the weather during this workshop, I will make every effort to ensure you capture some incredible images and leave with fond memories.

Fitness and Health

Although all shooting locations can be viewed in short proximity from the van, some moderate hiking will be required to take full advantage of the landscape at both Mesquite and Eureka Dunes.  It is possible to create fantastic images from outside of the dune fields; however, you will likely wish to explore them on foot.  Walking in the dune field can be challenging, so it is important that you never work alone and always carry water.

Some days will have long shooting hours and the remote nature of Death Valley means that there are no available restaurants.  It is important that you have snacks prepared and I will do my best to have sandwiches available.  Please understand that the remote nature of where we are shooting means that fully prepared restaurant-style meals are not always going to be attainable.

Road and Communication Conditions

This workshop features multiple stretches of unpaved roads.  While these roads are generally well maintained, some jostling should be expected.  Please bear this in mind and ask me for more information if you are concerned the off-roading may be challenging for you.

Death Valley has almost no cell signal and the Wi-Fi is highly unreliable.  This escape from the world is welcoming, but can be challenging at times.  Please temper your expectations regarding communication and ensure your family and friends are aware you may be out of touch for a few days.  Then, kick back and relax without the pressures of the world, the constant emails, and the looming presence of social media and take this opportunity to truly live in the present!

What to Bring


Clothing:

  • Comfortable layers both top and bottom that can be added or removed as needed (there is a wide swing in temperature between night and day, so be prepared for both environments).
  • A wind-breaking outer layer to help control the sand.
  • A warm jacket, hat and gloves for at night (Lone Pine can be particularly windy and cold).
  • A warm outer layer of pants for night time shooting.
  • Sturdy hiking boots.
  • Casual clothing for dining.
  • A camelback or way to carry water.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • Optional swimsuit: our accommodation in Death Valley has a warm natural spring-fed pool you may enjoy.

Gear:

  • A DSLR or Mirrorless camera which can be operated manually.
  • Spare batteries, memory cards, and charging system.
  • Lenses.  I recommend a wide angle to capture the foreground and a mid-range zoom.  A telephoto can also be useful at times.
  • Filters.  A polarizer will help cut glare during mid-day and an ND filter is useful for long exposures to create more dramatic skies.
  • A sturdy tripod.
  • A laptop and/or external hard drive to download and backup images during the trip.
  • A headlamp for shooting at dawn, dusk, and night.
  • Important:  Drones are not permitted in the areas we are visiting.
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