Big Bend National Park
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Night Photography Workshop
May 23rd - May 29th, 2020
Instructor: Andy Cook
Andy will be leading a night photography workshop to capture the stunning beauty of the Milky Way above two premier, dark sky parks. Join us at night, as we photograph iconic southwest landscapes within Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park while the Milky Way dances overhead.
In advance of the workshop consider arriving in TX on Friday, May 22nd and drive to Alpine, TX for the 1st night. Alpine, TX is a college town with many hotel choices, but it is graduation season so book early. The driving time from Alpine, TX to the Chisos Mountain Lodge is about 2 hours.
The workshop starts on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020 at 3:00 PM with an introduction and discussion. Afterward, we will photograph at sunset and into the stars. The formal workshop ends after photographing late on Thursday night / early Friday morning (May 29, 2020).
Be cautious about an early departure flight on Friday May, 29th as it is a long drive to an airport and most should sleep in to be properly rested before driving. Consider scheduling a return flight on Saturday the 30th.
On three nights participants can expect to leave the hotel in time to capture a sunset (about 8:45 PM) and we'll stay out until we've finished which is usually between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM. Then we return to the hotel for sleep. On three nights we depart the hotel after sunset. Participants will require different amounts of sleep so we will not schedule a group breakfast, but participants may make breakfast plans with each other. Every afternoon Andy will be available to instruct / aid with night sky post processing using Adobe Photoshop. Then we will have another break before it's time for a group dinner and more photography.
Sunset photography is scheduled on 3 nights, some picnic dinners will be required.
This workshop does involve some hiking and elevation gain to arrive at certain shooting locations, while other shooting locations will be just beyond the parking lot. The elevation range of our photography locations is 3,000 to 6,000 ft. The trail hiking may be deemed vigorous activity or light activity based upon one's condition. Trail hiking surfaces and those beyond the parking lot are generally uneven, ankle high hiking boots are recommended. Our longest hike is about 1/2 mile each way. One doesn't have to be in tip-top shape, but one's enjoyment will be enhanced by good health and preparation. Participants should consult with their doctor before attending our workshop or venturing to higher elevations. The hotel is about 5300 feet in elevation.
Proper hydration is a must. Without it one will lose strength, energy and may develop a headache. We will provide bottled water in the field.
Be prepared for possible temperature extremes and sudden changes in weather. Be aware that night in the desert may be chilly. Temperatures may range from a low of about 50 degrees to a high of about 110 degrees. Please bring a flashlight.
We will provide packaged snacks to eat while in the field.
Equipment Recommendations: Bring all camera equipment including the camera's manual. Time lapse, night photography is a part of this workshop, having a corded cable release or intervalometer will ensure the field work is done in a simple fashion. To buy an intervalometer check Amazon, Andy has been happy with one made by Neewer, they run $15-$25, it may not last forever, but it seems to do the job at a reasonable cost. Typically a wide angle lens with a max aperture of f/2.8 or bigger (smaller number) is required. For cameras with full frame sensors the lens should be at least 16mm wide. For cameras with partial frame sensors (1.5 LMF) the lens should be at least 10mm wide. One should test the wide aperture performance of their lens in advance of the workshop; find lens testing information at this webpage: Field Lessons and Handouts
Generally, a newer camera will have better high ISO performance than an older camera, so if you've been thinking about a new camera, it may make sense to buy it before this workshop.
One should shoot with a sturdy outdoor tripod that can adjust from standing height, without cranking up a center post, to very close to the ground. This type of tripod does not have attachments connecting the legs to the center post; i.e. the legs can move independently. Unless your camera has a built-in level, we recommend having a 2 axis flash shoe bubble level, it is the easiest way to make sure photos are level. Please buy these at a reputable dealer; they run about $35.00. To obtain post processing aid please bring a laptop with Photoshop installed.
For sunset photography the information below applies:
We recommend having a polarizing filter to use with some of the photographs on this workshop. Andy combines images of various exposures in post processing. Andy will be happy to teach participants his field and post processing techniques for doing so (requires a cable release with some cameras). A lens range from 17 mm to 400 mm after the lens multiplication factor is recommended. However, we think participants should bring their entire range of lenses.
2019 Group Photo
To be as prepared as possible for this workshop, please review the 2 videos, 7 lessons and 10 workshop handouts found at the link below:
Below please find the PDF handouts recommended for this workshop. One needs to print or download to a digital device these documents before the workshop from the link above.
For this workshop we recommend that participants:
*Print: Blank Workshop Locations Visited.
*Print or download to field digital device: Night Photography Rule of 400.
*Print or download to field digital device: CFDER Field Reminder (This is useful to those new to our workshops and/or trying to develop a useful field workflow.)
*Print or download to field digital device: Steps to Capture Panorama Photographs (If the tripod is properly set up before shooting, one can take panoramas of the locations we visit, even at night.)
*Print or download to field digital device: Hyperfocal chart for camera’s LMF. (Unless you already have a depth-of-field app on your smart phone.)
*Print or download to digital device: Andy’s Camera Settings (Only if unsure about what the camera’s settings should be.)
*Print or download to digital device: Tripod Tips and Techniques (Only if one is new to tripod use or are considering a tripod purchase.)
Rocky Mountain Reflections Photography, Inc. is authorized by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, to conduct services in Big Bend National Park.