Death Valley Photography Workshop
Death Valley is the lowest, driest, and hottest place in North America. Its extreme geology provides otherworldly photography opportunities that are unique unto themselves. Its salt pans, sand dunes, and cracked earth textures are a feast for the eyes and the camera. Join this multi-day workshop to explore, shoot, and enjoy this fascinating and beautiful desert landscape.
[This workshop] exceeded my expectations, I had a really wonderful time. [Josh and Jim] researched locations to photograph and matched them nicely with the time of day, [they were] very friendly and full of useful knowledge, [and] indicated an extreme interest in helping every attendee.
~ Mark D.
Pricing & Dates
|November 14 - 17, 2013: $1375 pp*|
Camping is also available at a number of campgrounds within a 5-minute drive of our meeting point. If you would prefer to camp, please let us know when you make your registration as we offer a discounted rate.
Learn the most important facets of composition and how to create depth in your images, how to draw viewers into your photos, and how to control their attention.
A Fun, Interactive Learning Environment
Try light painting experiments, night photography, macro shots, abstracts, and grand landscapes all in a supportive, casual, and friendly setting.
Quality 1-on-1 Instruction
Workshops are structured to give you maximum 1-on-1 time with the instructors. You get the help YOU need.
• 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
• Compositional balance, tension, and visual flow
• How to use filters to capture dramatic light or create long-exposure effects
• Low-light and night photography
• How to capture star trails
• Light-painting experiments
• Shoot planning and how to be at the right place at the right time
• Aspects of post-processing and digital workflow
• Lenses. Wide and ultra-wide angle lenses are highly recommended
• A sturdy tripod
• Comfortable footwear with good traction (hiking boots or running shoes recommended)
• 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
Highly recommended items• Filters (ND, Grad ND, Polarizers)
• Remote shutter release
• Camera rain sleeve
Fitness levelThis workshop is appropriate for photographers of moderate fitness levels. We will walk approximately 5 miles over the course of each day of the workshop. This includes walking on sandy, rough, and slippery terrain. Walking in sand dunes and other desert landscapes can be strenuous. All participants are expected to be able to carry their own camera, personal gear, and water during the workshop.
Students arrive in Death Valley and are free to explore the park on their own. After sunset we will meet to introduce the group, talk a bit about the workshop, and give a brief overview of Death Valley and its unique wonders. Then we turn you loose to get a good night's sleep.
Day 2, Friday
Up early to catch the sunrise at Badwater Basin, followed by a morning shoot at the Devil's Golf Course or Natural Bridge. Then we'll take a break for lunch. We reconvene in the early afternoon to shoot the warm light on the Mesquite Sand Dunes. An hour or so before sunset you'll see the dunes come alive as the low light from the setting sun creates a vivid display of patterns and textures. We'll stay at the dunes for sunset. Depending on conditions and the group's energy level we will head out again after dinner to experiment with moonlight photography, star trails, and light-painting. Or we may stay in and talk a little about post-processing.
Day 3, Saturday
Up early to catch the sunrise at Zabriskie Point, followed by a morning shoot in Golden Canyon. Both of these places display an awesome array of folded earth patterns. After that we'll once again take a break for lunch and to recharge our batteries. Then we'll head out to a little-known seasonal spring to catch the sunset.
Day 4, Sunday
On our last day we're up early again to shoot the sunrise at Dante's View, a sweeping vista of the entire Death Valley basin.
This workshop is organized to take advantage of the best and most interesting locations Death Valley has to offer. However, the exact itinerary and places we visit may change depending on the group and weather conditions.
• 8 - 12 hours per day of in-field shooting and instruction
• Image review and post processing session
• Water and snacks throughout the workshop
• A fun, positive, interactive learning environment
• Small class size of 8 students maximum
• 3 nights hotel lodging at Furnace Creek Ranch
What's Not Included• Transportation. While students need to provide their own transportation during the workshop we will be carpooling as much as possible.
• Park entrance fee
• Meals, though the group often eats together throughout the workshop
Deposit RequiredDeposit due upon registering
Balance due no later than 60 days prior to start of workshop
In addition to the workshops he teaches there, Jim Patterson has been making an annual photography pilgrimage to Death Valley for a number of years. Jim has spent nights on a frozen playa chasing moving rocks and has been ankle deep in Badwater Lake. For Jim, Death Valley's expanse and unique and ever-changing geology make this a special place for photography.
Josh and Jim are both professional photographers from Santa Cruz, California. Combined they have spent over 1000 hours scouting and shooting in Death Valley. 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.
Getting to the workshopGetting there: Death Valley is located in the south-eastern portion of California, sandwiched between the Sierra Nevada mountains and Nevada. The closest and easiest access to the park is from Las Vegas, which is about 2.5 hours east of the park via highway 160. Alternatively, Death Valley is about 5 hours north of LA via highways 395 and 190, or approximately a 9 hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area.
Getting around during the workshopTransportation is not provided. While students need to provide their own transportation during the workshop we will be carpooling as much as possible.
LodgingThis workshop includes 3 nights of hotel lodging at the Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley. This will be our meeting point throughout the workshop. The workshop price is based on single occupancy. Couples or friends sharing a room simply pay a supplemental workshop fee for the second person. If you are a solo participant willing to share a room, let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.
ClimateOur Death Valley workshops are conducted in winter in order to take advantage of pleasant temperatures and a greater chance of dramatic skies. From November through March Death Valley typically enjoys beautiful weather, with daytime highs in the 70's and 80's and nightly lows in the 40's. However, the desert climate can often be surprising and it's not unusual to see temperatures as high as 90°F or as low as 32°F. Also, one of our shoot locations is Dante's View, which is 6,000 feet above the valley and can be extremely windy and cold. Don't be surprised to encounter below-freezing conditions here. In addition, Death Valley gets most of its tiny amount of precipitation in the winter, making these months the best for interesting photography.
Recommended clothingMost participants will be comfortable with a jacket and hat for the mornings and evenings, and pants and a long-sleeved shirt during the day. Depending on your personal preferences you may also be comfortable in shorts and a t-shirt. For our shoot at Dante's View, we HIGHLY recommend a very warm jacket, hat, and gloves as the wind can be cold. A wide-brim hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, and a large water bottle will also be indispensable.
A few nice things folks have said about this workshop...This was an outstanding trip for multiple reasons. The cost was reasonable, and the instructor to participant ratio was perfect! You guys do a great job at reading our levels and "feeding" us at the right pace....POSITIVE support with great tips and encouragement. I would definitely take another workshop ~ Andrew M.
I was totally impressed by both Josh & Jim's dedication. Also thoughtfulness on bringing snacks, helping each person, scouting even at 3am, setting a great mood for the group. Very positive. I didn't know specifically what I was going to get to shoot, but had a blast. The dunes were simply awesome, but I also loved all the salt flats, esp. the wet & the hexagonal, but the circles were cool too. [They did a] very good job letting us know what was going to happen, getting to all photographers for 1-on-1, working off what I was already doing, giving new info in small enough doses to be absorbed & utilized. ~ Kathy K.
Since getting home from Death Valley, I've been working and traveling like a fiend. I finally had a chance to open up my workshop pictures and I'm blown away by the story they tell. As the group's official beginner, all of my first day photos were of endless exposures of the same compositions. By the end of the second day, you can see that the exposures and technical issues are starting to resolve and the compositional elements are coming together too. While I was still following you both around on the third day, I felt I had a real foundation that I could take anywhere. You both are infinitely patient, extremely informative, funny and born teachers. Thank you so very much. ~ Susan F.
The one on one time from both Josh and Jim is individually tailored (it seemed to me) to each participant's specific needs. So it was good for me. For me it's all about looking at a scene and seeing the compositions. I advanced my ability to do that. I also learned a little more about my camera that I didn't know before! This is the third workshop I've taken with S2S and the first multi-day workshop. Each one has been well-run and has delivered on its promise. These are quality workshops that deliver value for money and a fun and easy-going experience. I highly recommend them. ~ Andy P.
[This workshop] exceeded my expectations, I had a really wonderful time. [Josh and Jim] researched locations to photograph and matched them nicely with the time of day, [they were] very friendly and full of useful knowledge, [and] indicated an extreme interest in helping every attendee. ~ Mark D.