high sierra photo workshop

High Sierra Photography Workshop

2017 – Sold Out and Wrapped!
2018 – Dates TBD

California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range was famously called “the Range of Light” by John Muir for the endless dance that light performs on the range’s peaks. The Sierra Nevada is characterized by massive granite mountains, picturesque lakes and rivers, and rich forests. The scenic and varied landscapes are a photographer’s delight. In addition, early July often brings the monsoon and thunderstorm to the Sierra, making for exciting and dramatic conditions for photography. This High Sierra photography workshop will visit such grand locations as the Mammoth Lakes Basin, Tuolumne and Dana Meadows, Mono Lake, Convict Lake, groves of quaking aspens, and much more. Join us as we photograph the spell-binding scenery of the High Sierra. This multi-day High Sierra photography workshop will help photographers create beautiful photos of the breathtaking and varied landscapes of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. During this workshop we will be photographing dramatic granite peaks, glacially-fed alpine lakes, fascinating rock formations, cascading streams, and otherworldly Mono Lake tufa towers. Each day is filled with spectacular opportunities as we put you in the right place at the right time to make the most of your photography. In addition to visiting incredible landscapes, this workshop places a strong emphasis on helping you produce striking and powerful compositions, as well as telling a story with your photos.



Tioga Lake reflections and sunset

Stunning Landscapes

The Sierra Nevada mountains boast some of the most dramatic and accessible landscapes in the United States, making it a dream destination for landscape and nature photography.

Monsoon clouds, high Sierra

Monsoon Drama

The monsoon typically comes to the Sierra in early July, bringing incredible clouds and sunsets to the area.

World Class Dark Night Skies

The monsoonal clouds frequently clear in the evening, giving way to crystal clear night skies.

More Information


Our High Sierra Photography Workshop topics include:

• Transforming your artistic vision into memorable photographs
• Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO – their relationship to one another and how to change them for exposure control
• Metering and getting a correct exposure
• Histograms, how to read them, and how to fine-tune exposure
• Creative depth-of-field effects using aperture control
• White balance and creative coloration
• Creating perspective, depth, and a sense of “being there” in your photos
• Creating powerful compositions with impact
• Composing to control your viewer’s attention in your photos
• Composition: Balance, Tension, and Visual Flow
• How to use filters to capture dramatic light or create long-exposure effects
• Effective strategies for capturing nature’s rich colors
• Low-light and night photography
• How to capture stars
• Light-painting experiments
• Shoot planning and how to be at the right place at the right time


Getting to the workshop

Our High Sierra Photography Workshop is based out of Mammoth Lakes, a charming resort town in the heart of the High Sierra. Mammoth is located on highway 395, about 5 hours north of Los Angeles International Airport, 5 hours west of Las Vegas, or 3 hours south of Reno. If Tioga Pass through Yosemite is open, Mammoth is about a 6.5 hour drive from San Francisco. For our out-of-state participants flying in for this workshop, here are rough travel times from major transport hubs:

• Mammoth Lakes / Yosemite Airport: 10 minutes
• Los Angeles: 5 hours
• Burbank: 4.5 hour
• Reno: 3 hours
• Carson City: 2.5 hours

High Sierra Photography Workshop Itinerary

Day 1, Thursday
Arrive in Mammoth Lakes, California in the early afternoon for a meet and greet where we will go over introductions and the workshop itinerary in more detail. Afterwards, we will explore the bizarre and beautiful formations at Mono Lake South Tufa at sunset. And assuming the clouds clear we’ll take time for Milky Way photography as well.

Day 2, Friday
Up early to catch the sunrise at Minaret Vista, then back to town for breakfast and informal image review. We will then make our way toward world-famous Yosemite National Park to photograph the best of the high country in the park.  Afternoon and evening shoots will be centered in the idyllic Tuolumne and Dana Meadows areas. If the clouds clear we will then venture back out after dinner for stunning Milky Way photography.

Day 3, Saturday
Up early to catch the sunrise at Hot Creek, a fascinating volcanic area with excellent views of the Sierra crest. In the afternoon we will hike into the spectacular Gaylor Lakes Basin and photograph the high country splendor of this seldom visited area. Back to town for dinner then more night photography if the conditions are right.

Day 4, Sunday
On our last day we’re up early again to shoot the sunrise at spectacular McLeod Lake. By mid morning the light will likely be too harsh to continue shooting, so we’ll wrap the workshop and head back to town for our final meal together.

This workshop is organized to take advantage of the best and most interesting locations the High Sierra has to offer. However, the exact itinerary and places we visit may change depending on the group and weather conditions.


July weather in the high Sierra is generally predictable, with warm days and cool nights. However, the high likelihood of monsoonal moisture in the atmosphere means we may encounter thunderous downpours, hailstorms, and infinitely varying light. The variability is one of the things that makes photographing the Sierra at this time of year so dynamic, fun, and challenging.

What You Need

Camera Gear

• Digital SLR camera
• Lenses. Wide and ultra-wide angle lenses are highly recommended
• A sturdy tripod
• Footwear with good traction (waterproof hiking boots recommended) and warm socks (very important!)
• Creativity and a positive attitude
• Warm clothes in layers, gloves, a warm hat, and a rain jacket
• A wide-brim hat and sunscreen
• A one-liter (or larger) water bottle

Recommended clothing

We recommend bringing multiple layers of non-cotton clothing (like polypropylene base layers and fleeces), a warm jacket and pants, a warm hat, gloves, warm socks, and sturdy footwear. During the day lightweight clothing may be more comfortable, though long pants and sleeves are generally advisable in case we encounter mosquitoes. We also recommend bringing a rain jacket in case we encounter any storms. A wide-brim hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, and a large water bottle will also be indispensable.

Highly recommended items

• Filters (ND, Grad ND, Polarizers)
• Remote shutter release
• Camera rain sleeve
• Flashlight
• Waders for getting out into lakes and streams
• Mosquito repellent (DEET-based repellents are recommended)

Fitness level

Our High Sierra Photography Workshop is appropriate for photographers of good fitness levels. We will walk approximately 5-8 miles over the course of each day of the workshop, including some hikes of 2-3 miles each way. This hiking may be on rough, steep, and slippery terrain. This workshop may visit elevations as high as 10,500 ft. Walking in the mountains at altitude can be strenuous, especially at elevation. All participants are expected to be able to carry their own camera, personal gear, and water during the workshop. Participants may wish to arrive a few days early before the workshop begins to acclimate to the altitude. In short, please be prepared for hiking high in the mountains.


$1,095 per person for workshop

• $400 supplement for 3 nights hotel lodging at the Mammoth Creek Inn
• Save $110 if you are a returning client or per person when you sign up with a friend (single occupancy). Use code friendSIERRA
• Save $300 per person when you sign up with a friend and share a room. Use code friendSIERRA2

A deposit is required to reserve your spot with the balance due 60 days prior to the start of the workshop.

What’s Included

• Quality, professional, 1-on-1 photography instruction on par with your level as a photographer
• 8 – 10 hours per day of in-field shooting and instruction
• Water and snacks throughout the workshop
• A fun, positive, interactive learning environment
• Small class size of 8 participants maximum

What’s Not Included

• Lodging. Participants will need to secure 3 nights lodging in Mammoth Lakes on July 7th, 8th, and 9th. We have a block reserved at the Mammoth Creek Inn; let us know if you’d like a room.
• Transportation. While participants need to provide their own transportation during the workshop we will be carpooling as much as possible
• Meals, though the group often eats together throughout the workshop

Cancellation Policy

Please view our cancellation policy here.


“That was a great experience and a wonderful workshop. Thank you both so much.” – Bambi J.

“Hi [guys]! Thank you again for an amazing workshop. You guys helped me so much, and I really appreciate it!! I feel like I finally know how to use all the bells and whistles on my camera.” – Stacia K.

“Jim and Josh, thanks again for the spectacular workshop, great learning, and sites.” – Dan M.

Photo Gallery
Blog Articles

Check out stories, images, and videos of the High Sierra in our blog.

1-on-1 Workshops

Want different dates or a highly tailored experience? Contact us to arrange a private photography workshop along the eastern Sierra. Available for individuals, groups, and companies.


1 + 0 = ?

landscape photography workshop instructors

Your Instructors

Josh and Jim are both professional photographers and have spent thousands of hours scouting and shooting in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. They have been teaching together since 2010 (and separately since 2008) and have developed a tag-team approach to helping students understand photography concepts. Through a combination of theory, philosophy, examples, and on-the-spot feedback, they help students reach those “a-ha!” moments that take their photography to the next level.

Josh Cripps

Josh Cripps grew up in the Sierra Nevada mountains and has been exploring their granite peaks and high country meadows since he was a kid. Josh lives in Mammoth Lakes and spends his free time backpacking on the east side, drinking from crystal-clear alpine lakes and chasing bears away from his dehydrated pasta. He considers the Eastern Sierra to hold some of the most beautiful places on the planet and loves helping photographers shoot this wonderful region.

Jim Patterson

Jim Patterson’s first experiences with this area started with a love for astronomy back in his college days in the mid-1990s. Several trips to Mono Lake to view the night sky led to a deep rooted love of the Eastern Sierras. Over the past several years, Jim has made numerous trips to the area photographing from Lone Pine to the White Mountains and Bishop to the ghost town of Bodie. There is always something new to discover!


Why Choose Us

Spectacular Locations
Our workshops combine the very best scenery we can find along with in-depth knowledge of the areas we’re visiting. From the coast to the mountains to the desert, our workshops visit some of the most breathtaking landscapes you can imagine. And with hundreds of hours spent scouting and shooting in each location, Jim and Josh know the best times to visit, the best things to see, and the best shots to get. Plus we’re constantly adding new and cool locations to our line-up so you can keep expanding your photographic horizons.

1-on-1 Instruction at Your Level
We take a three-tiered approach to our photography instruction: Philosophy. Theory. Technique. This means that no matter what level of photographer you are, you can expect to walk away from a workshop with your head bursting with ideas about how to refine your vision and find your own style, an understanding of camera techniques and composition concepts that will springboard your photography, and the actual “How-To” of nailing a shot in the field. And with our relaxed, casual, 1-on-1 approach, you can soak up just the information YOU need to become a better shooter.

Small Class Size
Our multi-day workshops are limited to 8 participants to insure you get ample one-on-one time with the instructors. Our small groups also help us build camaraderie, plus we can go places big photography tours can’t. And with Josh and Jim running every single workshop themselves, there’s never more than 4 students for every instructor.

A “Go Happy or Go Home” Attitude
We believe that photography is as much about enjoyment as it is about scoring a keeper for your portfolio. We create a fun and dynamic environment where you can meet other photographers, learn at your own pace, enjoy the beauty of nature, and have a great time while doing it.

We Never Stop Scouting
Sea to Summit is never content to rest on its laurels. Before and after every workshop we are scouting, scouting, scouting. Whether it’s to find new and exciting locations to shoot or to provide a different view of the old icons, we strive to show you the absolute best places for photography.

Fully Insured and Permitted, Leave-No-Trace Advocates
Sea to Summit takes pains to ensure our activities are 100% above board. We obtain all the necessary permissions and insurances required in order conduct our workshops.

We are also strong advocates of Leave No Trace (LNT) wilderness ethics. We teach responsible photography practices and never sacrifice the environment for the sake of a photo. Our goal is to leave our photography workshop locations in better shape than the way we found them.

Tell a friend about this workshop!