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.   March is also a great time for wildflowers which dot the desert 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.  At each and every location I will be there to provide guidance on composition and settings as necessary and we will periodically do feedback and skills sessions too! Uniquely, this is one of the only photo workshops that includes 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.  Don’t wait because 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 remains flexible to achieve this.

Key Details

Dates:  March 1 – 7, 2021 (6 days/6 nights)

Price:  $1,275

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!

Day 1


We will meet in Las Vegas at McCarren International Airport and depart for Death Valley no later than 11am to arrive in Furnace Creek.  We will have 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.  If you’re lucky enough to see it after some rare rainfall, the result is spectacular!  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.  From here, 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.  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 gnarled trees, salt formations, and mud cracks.  During mid-morning we will explore the winding Mars-like paths of Golden Canyon before returning to out hotel for lunch.  Sunset will be spent exploring the fabulous Mesquite dunes and watching the sun dip behind the mountains as the light glistens on the sand.

Day 4


We will wake early in the morning to hike out to my favorite section of the Mesquite Dunes.  This area is rarely disturbed by footprints and offers a sweeping view of undulating dunes in every direction.  It truly is magnificent and an epic way to start the day.  After breakfast we will check out of our ranch and journey deep into the remote north of Death Valley.  Along the way will be vast stretched of mountains, fields of wildflowers and volcanic craters.  After descending through a jaw-dropping mountain pass we will discover the impressive Eureka Dunes nestled in a valley.  We will explore this area until the light fades and then head to Lone Pine, CA – home of the Alabama Hills!

Day 5


We will rise early 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 be 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  we will also have an optional opportunity to photograph the moon and stars over Mount Whitney.

Day 6


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 across Death Valley to return to Las Vegas.  This drive is truly breathtaking and will take us through impressive mountain passes with sweeping views across the desert.

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 in a prime location on the strip, so after dinner you will be free to explore the glittering city as you wish.

Departure


In the morning you can reach the airport by using a prearranged shuttle from our hotel or a taxi.

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Price and Dates


Dates:  March 1 – 7, 2021 (6 days/6 nights)

Price:  $1,275

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.  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!

What is Included:

  • Ground transportation
  • 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.
  • Lunch of sandwiches during the day 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 with reasonable prices and payment plans.

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.  This is the same for departure – please plan carefully!

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 vehicles.  Check the “What to Bring” section for more helpful tips.

The schedule above is only tentative and may change 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.  We will often walk 3-5 miles per day (though not all at once).  You are responsible for notifying me of any physical limitations or medical conditions which may impact your participation.

Some days will have long shooting hours and the remote nature of Death Valley means that there are limited 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 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 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 nalgene way to carry water.
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat.
  • 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.