Big Bend Night Photography Workshops, TX.
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Big Bend National Park, West Texas
Night Photography Workshop - Milky Way
Time Compressed Imagery

August - Not currently on schedule
Instructor: Andy Cook

Andy will be leading a night photography workshop to capture the stunning beauty of the Milky Way above the premier, dark sky national park. Join us as we photograph iconic southwest landscapes within Big Bend National Park while the Milky Way dances overhead. On the plus side, we've schedule this workshop in August because as soon as it gets dark the Milky Way will be in position and we can start shooting, about 10 pm. We don't have to be up all night, typically we will be finished shooting and heading back to the hotel by 11 pm. But, yes, there is a small downside, it may be hot, especially during the day on the desert floor. The good news, during the day we will be in air conditioning at the Chisos Mountain Lodge; higher elevation, cooler location.

This night workshop is geared for the intermediate to advanced photographer. Each participant is assisted at their level. We focus on helping participants create the most appealing compositions of each location we visit. This is a workshop environment, the instructor is present to aid in the field and teach his techniques for night landscape photography. If you're an advanced photographer, he is happy to help or stay out of the way.

This night, photo workshop is geared to Time Compressed Imagery (TCI). The basic idea of TCI is to take a foreground image at dusk before it gets too dark. This allows one to use a low ISO setting and smaller aperture for better depth-of-field, to draw close items into focus. Then one waits for the Milky Way to appear in the desired location and one takes another photo with camera setting such that the Milky Way will record in detail. Later in post processing these two images will be merged to create one image with fine detail in the foreground allowing for larger prints. Andy will provide field and post processing instruction using Photoshop for TCI. Participants should return home with most of their images already processed. Requires participants to bring a calibrated laptop with Photoshop installed.

A strong sturdy tripod is required for this type of photography. TCI allows photographers to capture wonderful images without using any artificial light.
Photo Workshop
TCI - One of our photo locations.

Itinerary Outline

In advance of the workshop consider arriving in TX on Saturday, August ____ and drive to Alpine, TX for the 1st night. Alpine, TX is a college town with many hotel choices, but schools are returning to session so book early. The driving time from Alpine, TX to the Chisos Mountain Lodge is about 2 hours.

The workshop starts on Sunday, August_______ 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 Friday night / early Saturday morning (August________).

In the event we have six clear night we have six wonderful Milky Way locations selected. However, if it looks like it will be cloudy we will seek out sunset opportunities.

On several nights participants can expect to leave the hotel in time to capture a sunset (about 8:27 PM) and we'll stay out until we've finished. Then we return to the hotel for sleep. Participants will require different amounts of sleep so we will not schedule a group breakfast, but Andy will usually go to breakfast 1 hour before they stop serving breakfast. Every midday 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.

Be cautious about an early departure flight on Saturday August ________ 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 Sunday, August ________.

Big Bend Night Photo Workshop
TCI - One of our photo locations.

COST: $1,690.00 per participant. Target number of participants is 6.
Deposit Amount: $300.00 due at time of registration. This deposit becomes non refundable 90 days in advance of the workshop.

Full Payment of the workshop is due 60 days prior to the start of the workshop. If final payment is not received when due, we reserve the right to treat the reservation as canceled, please review the cancellation policy on the registration page.

Big Bend National Park, TX.
TCI - One of our photo locations.
Texas Photography Workshop
One of our photo locations.

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 will be cooler than daytime temperatures. In August temperatures on the desert floor may range from a low in the eighties to a high above one hundred. Please bring a flashlight.

We will provide packaged snacks to eat while in the field.

Big Bend National Park, TX.
Cloudy day photo location.
Texas Photography Workshop
Cloudy day photo location.

More Information

LODGING: Chisos Mountain Lodge, Big Bend National Park, TX. Phone # 432-477-2291.
(Check-in) Sunday, August _______ - (Checkout) Saturday, __________:  We have a group reservation here, please only book by calling the lodge. Please indicate that you are taking one of Rocky Mountain Reflections Photography's rooms, the dates, August ___________, and provide your payment information. (This arrangement is not yet completed please do not call until notified.)

TRANSPORTATION: Most people flying to this workshop will find flying into El Paso, TX (about 5 hours) or Odessa / Midland, TX (about 4 hours) to be the best choices.

Driving Conditions: Driving conditions will consist of mainly paved roads. When possible we prefer that participants car pool with each other to help limit our impact and get to know each other. A standard rental car will be sufficient.

Big Bend Photography Workshop
Possible Sunset Location

Equipment Recommendations: Bring all camera equipment including the camera's manual. 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.

Milky Way Photo Workshop
TCI - One of our photo locations.

The Fine Print
Some sample TCI images were taken in May between 2:00 and 3:00 am. Milky Way position at 10 PM in August will be similar but not precisely the same. We do not guarantee the weather. Workshop fee does not include transportation, lodging or meals. Photo locations visited may vary year to year. In order to keep workshop fees as low as possible we may overbook any given workshop by 1 space. Usually this results in 6 participants, but from time to time we may have 7 participants attending. We require an acknowledgment of risks be signed before going into the field. We will send the acknowledgment of risks upon registration, please return it at the start of the workshop. In the event Rocky Mountain Reflections Photography, Inc. (RMRPI) cancels a workshop due to unforeseen circumstances such as inability to obtain permits, instructor injury, death… Then, RMRPI will refund fees collected by RMRPI for the affected workshop. In the event of a natural disaster, government closure or other happening of this nature that causes a workshop to be canceled, RMRPI may be unable to refund workshop fees. If this happens then funds collected by RMRPI will be applied as credit toward a future workshop of the participant’s choosing. RMRPI will not be held responsible for other expenses (airline tickets, hotel deposits, rental car…) that may be associated with any canceled workshop.
Photo Workshop
Possible Sunset Location

Powerful Flashlight
Spare Camera Batteries
Camera Manual
Memory Cards
Extra Shoes and Socks
Tough Hiking Boots
Wide Brim Hat
Insulated Water Bottle
Lightweight Waterproof Shell
Oh Yes! Don't Forget the Camera

We will be walking in areas where sharp thorns and needles may be present. We highly recommend tough, leather, ankle high, hiking boots and tough, puncture resistant gators to protect one's calves. Also bring a strong flash light to illuminate the path when walking at night.

It can be quite warm (some might call it hot) during the day so bring light, cool clothing, Andy will wear shorts during much of this workshop. It's likely to be comfortable at night, but bring a few fleece layers just in case.

To keep nighttime crawling things out of camera bags we recommend they stay off the ground. It may be best to carry the camera attached to the tripod and bring a fanny pack with an extra lens, spare batteries, memory cards, cable release, snacks and water.
Big Bend NP
Monsoon storms may present photo ops.

Big Bend Photography Workshop
2022 Group Photo - TCI

View images in the Big Bend Night
Participant Gallery

Big Bend Milky Way Photo Workshop

Big Bend Photo Workshop
Possible Sunset Location.

Big Bend Photography Workshop
Possible Sunset Location

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.)


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Big Bend - Milky Way Photography Workshop
  Cloudy day photo location.

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.

Images on this website are property.
Please do not use them without the photographer's Permission.
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