Utah’s Mighty 5 Workshop2019-07-04T09:57:58-04:00

Utah’s Mighty 5 June 2020

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Welcome to Your Next Adventure!

Utah is one of the most action-packed, adventure-filled states in America and this workshop will introduce you to some of its greatest highlights!  From towering rock formations to bottomless canyons, Utah will leave your jaw dropped from beginning to end!  Known as the Mighty Five, Utah is home to five of the most stunning National Parks in the country as well as countless other impressive state and tribal parks.

This workshop will take you on an epic adventure through all five national parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches, and Canyonlands) and even include iconic Horseshoe Bend, Monument Valley and a private tour of gorgeous Antelope Canyon.  Each time we set out, I will suggest useful techniques and compositions to make the most out of every location, and the focus will always be on being in the right location at the right time to catch the best light for every vista.  Because these parks have so much to offer, we will regularly split into two groups for the afternoon so that those who wish to tackle more vigorous hikes may do so while others focus on more skills and more accessible sights.

As many of you know, my personal focus has always been on making travel affordable and attainable for others and this workshop is no different.  I pledge full transparency regarding the cost, and at the end of this page you can view an itemized side-by-side comparison of cost between this workshop and my competitors.  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.  There will be countless opportunities to photograph the stars above the desert, and I will teach techniques for long exposures and light painting to create otherworldly images.  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:  June 15-23, 2020

Price:  $1100

Why You Should Reserve Your Spot Now:

  Small group       Individual attention      ✓  Cheaper than going alone        Expert guide

  Because sometimes in life, you should just say yes!

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Day 1 – June 15


We will meet at the Arrivals Hall in the Salt Lake City airport no later than 11am and begin our drive to Zion National Park.  After checking into our hotel, we will catch out first amazing sunset from Canyon Overlook which is an easy half mile from the parking area.  This viewpoint provides a stunning view of the valley below and a perfect view of the setting sun making it a breathtaking way to start the trip!

Day 2 – June 16


We will wake up quite early and break into two groups.  The hiking group will tackle the infamous but challenging Angel’s Landing trail which is 5 miles round-trip and not for the faint of heart!  The other group will photograph sunrise at the iconic bridge over the Virgin River before utilizing the park shuttle system to explore other sections of the park.

Day 3 – June 17


In the morning, the soft light is an ideal time to photograph the surreal rock formations in Zion  and we will take plenty of time to explore these spectacular shapes on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.  Upon arriving at Bryce, we will split into two groups to descend into the Canyon.  Going below the rim is truly the only way to feel the full impact of the surreal landscape filled with the iconic hoodoos (the whimsical rock towers).   The hikers will complete the jaw-dropping, 8-mile Fairyland Loop Trail which weaves through mile after mile of astonishing formations tucked among the gorgeous forest.  The other group will make a short descent to Wall Street to photograph the afternoon light as it filters through the trees.  In the evening we will meet back at the rim to photograph the fading light of the day and watch the sunset.

Day 4 – June 18


Bryce Canyon due to facing East is truly made for gorgeous sunrises!  After watching the sun rise we will drive just south of the border to Page, Arizona.  Page is action-packed with amazing sights the most famous of which is Antelope Canyon.  Mid-day, when we are most likely to see the sun beams filtering through the slot canyon, we will have a private photography tour of the beautiful slot canyon.  The private tour means you will be able to bring a tripod which is very important in the low light of the canyon and you will also have more time than other groups are allotted to snap images.

After Antelope Canyon, we will check out the impressive Glen Canyon Dam and view Lake Powell before heading to Horseshoe Bend for sunset.  Although this location an often be crowded, it is truly worth the stop to behold and it is a perfect location for photographing the afternoon light.

Day 5 – June 19


In the morning we will depart Page early to arrive at Monument Valley shortly after sunrise.  The early morning light is spectacular here and no trip to Utah would be complete without snapping some iconic images of these massive formations.  After this morning session, we will finish our drive to Moab, Utah – the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Moab is an adorable western town eclectically mixing the best parts of the old west with the chic edge of modernity.  This is the perfect time for us to decompress a little and have some free time in town.  For those who are willing, we may make a quick trip to see Corona Arch or wander along the scenic Hwy 128 during the afternoon.  If the skies are clear in the evening, we will have an optional Milky Way session in Arches which offers some amazing opportunities to get creative with the night sky.

Day 6 – June 20


Early in the morning we will again split into two groups.  The hiking group will make the steep trek to famous Delicate Arch while the other group explores the park along several other short trails which wind their way to other arches.  Each time we divide the group it allows those who are avid hikers a chance to explore some more difficult locations while those who prefer to focus on photography or are less mobile are able to focus on those skills in more accessible locations.  Whichever group you choose, you will certainly be amazed with everything Utah has to offer.

Day 7 – June 21


This will be a very early morning as we depart for Canyonlands around 3:30am to get a coveted spot to photograph Mesa Arch.  This is one of Utah’s most iconic images, but it is also its most popular.  We must arrive nearly 2 hours before sunrise to guarantee a position to photograph the famous sunburst below the arch but trust me…. this is well worth the early wake-up!  After getting our shots we will head to Grand Viewpoint Overlook to soak in one of the most expansive views in the southwest during the soft morning light.

This will be our longest day by far, so we will bring a picnic lunch and plenty of snacks to keep our energy up throughout the day.  Canyonlands has lots of viewpoints to explore and plenty of short trails to keep us busy.  Late afternoon we will head over to the adjacent Dead Horse Point State Park for an insane sunset view over the canyon below.

Day 8 – June 22


In the morning we will drive towards our last Utah park – Capitol Reef.  Along the way we will stop at Factory Butte to stand in awe at the surreal formations and color gradients of the buttes and mesas surrounding it.  The early morning is by far the best time to capture all the textures and colors Factory Butte has to offer.  Then we will head into Capitol Reef and explore the historic Fruita settlement famous for its incredible apple pies and iconic old barn.  In Capitol Reef we will see ancient carvings along the walls and layers of sediment which have been violently lifted from the earth to expose beautiful stripes and patterns.  Sunset is truly spectacular along the park’s scenic road where the warm glow reflects off the cliffs with bright and vibrant colors.

Day 9 – June 23


We will spend our last sunrise together at Panorama Point before departing for the Salt Lake City airport.  We should arrive at the airport no later than 1pm to bid farewell.

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Price and Dates


Dates:  June 15 – 23, 2020

Price:  $1100

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.

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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).
  • All park entry fees.
  • Breakfast each day which will consist of fruit, bagels and other light fare.  Other breakfast options are available for purchase.
  • 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 the Salt Lake City airport.
  • Lunch and dinner each day.
  • Snacks are very important for maintaining your energy throughout the day.  There will be multiple opportunities for you to purchase snacks throughout 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 Salt Lake City 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, please plan carefully to ensure you flight fits our schedule.

Disclaimer and Weather

My goal is for you to return home with amazing images of all the incredible subjects Utah 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 Utah during April with a daytime high around 75°F and a nighttime low around 50°F.  Bryce Canyon can be colder with daytime highs around 65°F and nighttime lows around 35°F.  Your accommodations will always be climate controlled as will the van.  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 many shooting locations can be viewed in short proximity from the van, some moderate hiking will be required to take full advantage of the landscape.  We will often break into two groups so that those who are stronger hikers can attempt more difficult trails while those who prefer not to can explore more easily accessible areas.

Some days will have long shooting hours and the remote nature of the parks means that there are often no available restaurants.  It is important that you have snacks prepared to fuel you throughout the day.

Communication Conditions

The parks often have no cell signal and the Wi-Fi can be 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.
  • A warm jacket, hat and gloves for at night (Bryce Canyon 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.

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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