Badlands National Park Photography Workshop

Workshop location; A predawn sky casts a blue hue over yellow mounds capped by red rock and distant jagged cliffs of red and white layered rocks.

Part 1 - August 13 - 18, 2023

Part 2 - August 19 - 21, 2023:
3 day hiking extension

Part 1 - One Space Available
Part 2 - Full
Part 1: $1690 USD
Part 2: $500.00
Instructor: Andy Cook


Badlands National Park in South Dakota is an amazing gift to the landscape photographer. It contains panoramic vistas that challenge one to find intriguing compositions with both wide angle and telephoto lenses. Spend a little time walking amongst the rocks and discover how the eroded landscape can move a viewer's eye through a well composed scene.

FOCUS: Morning and evening photo sessions to capture the beauty on display with low angle sun light.

ADDITIONAL: We may photograph wildlife when opportunities arise.

HIKING EXTENSION: Join Andy and members of the scouting party as we hike and explore some interesting back country areas in search of compelling foregrounds. Part 2 is only offered to those also attending part 1.

The foreground shows mud cracked, red soil with a dendritic erosion pattern forming a wide, serpentine stripe that flows through the surrounding light gray soil on a sloping shelf on the side of a ravine in Badlands National Park. This red stripe leads the viewer through two thirds of this vertical image to the heights of the ravine topped by jagged, peaks decorated with alternating layers of crumbly, red and light rock. Above, the sunset sky is ablaze with streaking orange clouds.
Badlands Sunset
Workshop location; A pink, dawn sky occupies the top sixth of this vertical image, below the horizon is a maze of steep, eroded, vegetation free canyons made up of crumbly alternating layers of red and light gray rock.
Badlands Dawn


The workshop starts on Sunday, August 13th, 2023 at 7:00 pm with introductions and a discussion in the hotel lobby. We start photographing on Monday morning, August 14th, 2023.

LODGING LOCATION: Best Western Plains Motel, 712 Glenn Street, Wall, SD 57790. 605-279-2145
Check-in: Sunday, August 13th, 2023
Check-out: Part 1 - Saturday, August 19th, 2023
Check-out: Part 2 - Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023

This is a busy season, participants should make hotel reservations as soon as possible.

Part 1 ends after photographing sunset on Friday, August 18th.
Part 2 ends after photographing sunset on Monday, August 21st.

Photography location; Three dark buffalo grazing on the Badlands National Park prairie stand out in this high key, black and white photo where the sky and prairie are lightened to almost white.
Badlands Buffalo


MORNING: We'll be at a photography location for the start of blue hour and we'll stay in the field until it is time for breakfast.

MIDDAY: Everyday for several hours we will have Photoshop discussions, demonstrations and/or individual instruction. Andy may conduct demonstrations with his laptop, but bring a laptop with Photoshop installed to receive processing aid with your images. Weather and pursuit of wildlife may alter this.

EVENING: In the afternoon we will eat an early dinner and return to the field where we photograph past sunset into blue light hour.

HIKING EXTENSION: Our first morning - sleeping in; recovery from part 1. In the afternoon we hike to discover locations for sunset and milky way photography. We intend to photograph sunset and milky way every night. We will decide about the remaining mornings during the workshop.

Photography location; At the bottom of this vertical image the eye drops past the mud crack filled soil into several large crevices which lead down into a ravine tracking left in the frame. The right side of the ravine is a steep hillside showing alternating layers of crumbly, red and white rock. As the ravine descends it's walls shrink in height, in the middle of the frame one's eyes easily track over the ravine's short, right edge into the middle of the frame and up to where sunset, sidelights a small collection of steep, bare peaks formed by erosion and decorated with alternating layers of crumbly, red and white rock.
Badlands Ravine


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Workshop location; Stratified clouds begin to receive dawns light, and a haze hangs. The scene is a large area of conical, red and white layered mounds that stretch back to conical shaped peaks in the background.
Door Trail


participant experience level

EXPERIENCE: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

workshop group size

GROUP SIZE: Part 1 - Target number of participants is 8.

Part 2 - Target number of participants is 4.

workshop effort scale

EFFORT: Part 1 - Easy; Does not involve much trail hiking, however, it does involve walking through tall grass, along roads, on rocky terrain and small hills.

Part 2 - Moderate - Difficult; Extensive hiking, 8 to 12 miles each day, often several miles from road. One must be able to carry one's camera gear, food and plenty of water. Returning to cars after dark.

workshop weather conditions

CONDITIONS: Be prepared for changes in weather; rain gear - thunderstorms.

HEAT: Tempratures may climb quite high during August in the Badlands.

DANGER: Cactus hide in the terrain. Ankle high, solid leather, hiking boots are highly recommended. Prairie rattlesnakes inhabit the park. We're walking in tall grass. Andy will use snake gaiters and highly recommends participants bring their own.

HIKING EXTENSION: Snake gaiters are required.

OTHER: Some do not like the tap water in Wall, consider options.

Workshop location; The bottom of this vertical image shows mud cracked soil on top of a skinny ridge that juts out, down and away from the viewer into layers of eroded canyons of crumbly rock and across a small valley to a rugged hillside of alternating layers of red and light gray rock.
Badlands National Park


suggested workshop airports

AIR TRAVEL: Most people flying to this workshop will find flying into Rapid City, SD to be the best choice.

Driving time from Rapid City to Wall, SD is 1 hour.

car information

DRIVING CONDITIONS: Paved highways and maintained dirt roads, possibly muddy. We prefer participants car pool with each other to limit our impact and get to know one another.

Photo locations are spread out in this national park so there is an average amount of driving required on this workshop.

Workshop location; Streaks of yellow, orange and blue fill the sky as clouds collect the days first light in the top third of this Badlands National Park image. The bottom of the image has steep ravines and curving ridges which bring the eye in, and up, from the bottom left corner to the distant jagged, peaks which fill the middle of the frame and are beginning to glow orange with side light.
Badlands Sunrise


equipment information


FOR BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK: A lens range from at least 16mm to 400mm after the lens multiplication factor is recommended.

Workshop location; A pink, dawn sky occupies the top sixth of this vertical image, below the horizon is a maze of steep, eroded, vegetation free canyons made up of crumbly alternating layers of red and light gray rock.
Badlands Dawn