Eastern Sierra Photography Workshop

September 28 – October 1, 2017
Bonus Day: October 2

California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range drops off dramatically into the high desert country of the Eastern Sierra. From towering granite peaks, to picturesque lakes, to fantastic forests, the scenic and varied landscapes are a photographer’s delight. This workshop will visit such icons as Mono Lake, the Alabama Hills, the Owens River Valley, groves of quaking aspens, and much more. Create beautiful photos of the breathtaking and varied landscapes of the east side of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. During this workshop we will be photographing dramatic granite peaks, glacially-fed alpine lakes, fascinating rock formations and arches, cascading streams, and otherworldly Mono Lake tufa towers. On top of that, October is often the best time to photograph aspen trees as their leaves turn blazing gold and crimson. While Fall color varies from one year to the next, we will catch the turning of the season wherever we can. We will also do some night photography as conditions allow. 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.



Small Group Size

With our 4:1 student to instructor ratio, we offer more 1-on-1 instruction on par with your level as a photographer.

Night Photography

With 8 – 10 hours per day of in-field shooting and instruction, we include at least one session of night photography.

Spectacular Locations

The Eastern Sierra workshop is full of striking features including 10,000′ mountains, alpine lakes, strange tufa, fall colors, and bristlecone pines.

More Information


Our Eastern 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 rich fall color photos
• 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


Getting to the workshop

Our Eastern Sierra Photography Workshop meets in Lee Vining and finishes in Bishop. Bishop is located on highway 395, about 4.5 hours north of Los Angeles, 4.5 hours west of Las Vegas, or 4 hours south of Reno. If Tioga Pass through Yosemite is open, Bishop is about a 7 hour drive from San Francisco. Lee Vining lies 1.25 hours north of Bishop, directly between Mono Lake and the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. For our out-of-state participants flying in for this workshop, here are rough travel times from major transport hubs:

• Mammoth Lakes / Yosemite Airport: 45 minutes to Bishop. 30 minutes to Lee Vining
• Los Angeles: 4.5 hours to Bishop. 5.5 hours to Lee Vining
• Burbank: 4 hours to Bishop. 5 hours to Lee Vining
• Reno: 3.5 hours to Bishop. 2.5 hours to Lee Vining
• Carson City: 3 hours to Lone Pine. 2 hours to Lee Vining

Day 1
Arrive in Lee Vining, 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 photograph the bizarre and beautiful tufa formations at Mono Lake South Tufa at sunset. Stay in Lee Vining that night.

Day 2
Up early to catch the sunrise at Silver Lake followed by a morning searching for Fall color in north of Lee Vining. There will be a break for lunch. For the sunset, we will head up into the Sierra to photograph beautiful McGee Creek, its aspens, and surrounding mountains. Stay in Bishop that night.

Day 3
Up early to catch the sunrise at stunning North Lake before exploring spectacular Bishop Creek canyon. The afternoon and evening we are headed high up to the Bristlecone Pines – the oldest living things on earth – for sunset and a night on unforgettable Milky Way photography.

Day 4
On our last day we’re up early again to shoot the sunrise along the Owens river with 13,000-foot Sierra Nevada peaks as our backdrop. 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 brunch.

Bonus Day
For those who would like to join us for one more day we are offering a full extra day’s session in the Alabama Hills. After we wrap the last official morning shoot on Day 4 we will head to Lone Pine. Then it’s another sunset, nighttime, and sunrise shoot in the mind-bending Alabama Hills, where rolling boulder fields and a number of natural arches dominate the landscape, and the highest peak in the contiguous US, Mt. Whitney, looks out over the Owen’s Valley. Cost is $495 for the bonus day and includes a night of single occupancy lodging in Lone Pine.

This workshop is organized to take advantage of the best and most interesting locations the Eastern Sierra have to offer. However, the exact itinerary and places we visit may change depending on the group, weather conditions, and the areas showing Fall color.


Fall weather in the Eastern Sierra can be extremely variable. We may experience dry, warm days with temperatures of 80° or we might experience snowstorms and sub-freezing temps. The variability is one of the things that makes photographing the east side 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 or rubber 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. 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, Polarizer)
• Remote shutter release
• Camera rain sleeve
• Flashlight

Fitness level

Our Eastern Sierra Photography Workshop is appropriate for photographers of moderate-good fitness levels. We will walk approximately 5 miles over the course of each day of the workshop. This includes walking 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. All participants are expected to be able to carry their own camera, personal gear, and water during the workshop.


$1,095 per person for workshop

• $400 supplement for 3 nights private hotel lodging
• 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
• BONUS DAY: $495 for three additional shoots in the Alabama Hills and an additional night of hotel lodging in Lone Pine.

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
• Three nights lodging

What’s Not Included

• 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.


“I had a terrific time on our day together and took away a tremendous amount of information. My shots for the day were not stellar, but in each one I can see some things that worked (or didn’t) and what I need to do to improve. Thanks for a great job! Please let me know as soon as you plan your [next] fall Eastern Sierra trip…I will be the first to sign up, guaranteed.” – Duane B.

“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 Eastern 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.


4 + 1 = ?

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 backpacks on the east side every year, 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.

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