Join us as we capture the jaw-dropping vistas and details of the largest National Park in the lower 48 States.
Workshop Leader: David Downs
Those who’ve visited Death Valley before understand how hard it is to describe Death Valley using words. Sometimes only an image can do it partial justice.
We’ll capture vast dune fields, crystalline structures, mighty vistas, stunning canyons, mud flats, and the incredible Artist’s Palette. We’ll take pictures 282′ below sea level and from 5,500′ above sea level. You will walk away with images of a lifetime.
We're excited for you to join us. Please read through the information below before signing up for the workshop.
Thursday, February 22, 2024, at 12:00 PM - Sunday, February 25, 2024 at 12:00 PM
Death Valley National Park, CA
- Landscape Composition
- Photographing Dunes
- Micro Landscape Photography
- Abstracts and Details
- Focus Stacking
Depending on the Schedule and weather, we may be able to touch on:
- Night Sky Photography
- Ruins/Ghost Town
Please read these additional workshop details carefully:
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All workshop excursions will be based out of The Ranch at Death Valley. The cost for your room (double occupancy) is included in the price for the workshop. There is a $450 surcharge for a single. If you are driving separately from the group and wish to come early or stay late, please let me know and I can see if our group room rate can be extended.
The Ranch at Death Valley
CA-190, Death Valley, CA 92328
Phone: (760) 786-2345
The rooms have a coffee maker and a small fridge but do not have microwaves. There is a small food mart on site with a variety of items for meals and a restaurant. Dining at Death Valley is expensive as there are few options. Hanging out at the 19th hole is a nice option for late-evening drinks.
We will be departing early each morning (prior to the restaurant opening) and will likely not be back before breakfast service ends, so make sure you have access to some nutrition (and caffeine for those who need it) before we head out. We will typically be back in time for lunch each day but will be leaving again before dinner starts. We should return in time for a late dinner on your own.
This workshop features light hiking, but there are specific locations that will be challenging (depending on weather effects due to rain), and may require climbing moderate boulders and walking through some narrow areas. Some of the hikes on the sand dunes can also be strenuous. As a participant, you can choose how far you travel on the dunes. We will be active throughout the day, focused on capturing amazing images, so your sleep may be limited. This should be considered before signing up for this workshop. If you have trouble with balance, endurance or strenuous exercise, we encourage you to consider one of our other great workshops.
Pre-Workshop - Approximately two weeks before the workshop we will host a Zoom session covering all the necessary information to participate in and enjoy the workshop. We have been told many times the pre and post workshop Zoom Sessions are a differentiator in our workshops. They assist in getting prepared and in getting the best out of the images you capture on the trip. The agenda is always flexible based on weather conditions and travel time to locations. So that you'll know what to expect, here's our tentative agenda. This is subject to change based on weather and local conditions.
Day 1 – If you are flying in, you must arrive at the Las Vegas Airport on February 22 before noon because I will be picking up all participants. If you are driving to Death Valley, please arrive at the hotel lobby by 2:30pm. Transportation will be provided for all participants during the workshop. We will debrief, get settled in and then head out for our first evening in the Park for education on photographing the random beautiful structure in mud flats and visiting the incredible Zabriskie Point for sunset and some nightscape images under a nearly full moon.
Day 2 – An early start to capture sunrise images in Mesquite Dunes with an educational focus on capturing the abstract nature of the dunes, panoramas and utilizing visual layers in your images to provide depth and contrast. We'll stop by Salt Creek Basin to explore Salt Clusters on the way back to the hotel for lunch and a bit of rest. Early afternoon we will visit a canyon with amazing rock structure and light followed by an evening visit to the Artist's Pallete to capture it during the golden hour when the colors really stand out.
Day 3 – We leave well before dawn to visit Dante's Peak for sunrise. The view from the top is incredible with visibility out to 30 miles. We'll return to the hotel for lunch and an editing session before heading out to Devils Golf Course and Badwater Basin to finish the day.
Day 4 – Based on a group vote, we will return to a previously visited location to capture that shot you missed, or retake an image you feel can be better composed/exposed. We will wrap up by mid-morning, return to the hotel to check out and drive back to the hotel for flights that afternoon.
Post-workshop – We will provide follow up Zoom editing session on images captured during the workshop for attendees to use as a guide while editing their images.
Transportation to Las Vegas is the responsibility of the workshop participants. We will provide ground transportation to/from LAS on 2/22 and 2/25. Participants will be picked up no later than noon on 2/22. We will return to LAS by noon on 2/25. If you are driving to the workshop, you are responsible for arriving no later than 2:30 on the 2/22 at the hotel for a our group meeting. We will provide transportation during our daily excursions for participants.
Recommended photography gear
DSLR or Mirrorless camera – Crop Sensor or Full Frame
Wide angle & telephoto lenses
Remote shutter release – Alternatively, an understanding on how to set a 2-second shutter delay for your camera.
Circular polarizing filter (if you have one)
Camera bag suitable for hiking
Batteries – Extra batteries if you have them. If not, make sure you have a charger.
Storage – At least two memory cards.
Laptop with Lightroom/Photoshop if you wish to participate in the editing session
Hunger for improving your photography and a desire to capture some beautiful images.
Although the weather in Death Valley in February is mild with highs in the mid 70's and low's in the 40's, it's good to be prepared (especially in today's apparently ultra volatile weather patterns) for 10-15 degrees warmer or colder. Particularly, the visit to Dantes Peak can find temps in the 30's before sunrise.
You will want some good quality waterproof hikers for this workshop as the Salt Basin and Bad Water can contain water/soggy/muddy ground.
We’ll send out weather updates as we get closer to the workshop dates.
If you're driving, fill up before you enter the park, it's a LARGE area and fuel is sparse and expensive.
Plan on little to no cell service outside the hotel.
We’ll have plenty of water for everyone. It’s important that everyone drink as much water as possible.
Location pro tips
As much as we’d like to set the temperature and control wind and rain for the workshop we simply aren’t that good. We will do our best despite any weather obstacles to make sure you leave with a wealth of information and practical experience.
With over 3 million acres, it's natural to assume that anything we do will have a tiny impact on the park. Although that may be true, the tiny impact of hundreds of thousands visitors accumulates into a major impact. We practice a Leave No Trace Policy and encourage all of our participants to visit https://lnt.org/ and consider getting their training on how to protect our environment.
Reserve your spot now!
Important info! We encourage you to create an account when you register so future workshop forms will be prepopulated with your data. Shortly after registering you will receive a confirmation e-mail and a separate email with an invoice to pay your registration online. A $1,500 deposit will hold your spot, with the balance due 90 days out from the workshop date. Workshop pricing is for double occupancy, but a Single Supplement is available for $450 You are not fully registered until your payment is received.
Class size is limited, so sign up early. A minimum of 4 students is required to hold the class.