Beyond the Badlands

March 23-27 2020, 8 Participants - Sold Out!

Join us in Hanksville, UT for a foray into some remote and seldom photographed parts of the Utah desert.  When skies are clear we'll be out shooting the Milky Way.  Come witness one of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth!

Southern Utah Photo Workshop


  • The badlands of central Utah are filled with spectacular photo spots that will blow your mind!  This workshop is designed for those who truly want to get off the beaten path and improve their photography skills.
  • The workshop dates are optimized for great weather, atmospheric conditions, and Milky Way photography!  We'll concentrate on night photography as long as the skies are clear.
  • With 2 instructors, we guarantee plenty of individual attention.  You will learn many new camera skills and techniques.
  • We provide all the transportation during the workshop so you don't have to worry about the rough roads.
  • Post-processing and image critique sessions will be scheduled throughout the workshop to help make the most of your images.
  • The itinerary is kept flexible so we can chase the best weather conditions. Our job is to get you the best photos possible!


  • The itinerary is flexible to allow us to chase the best conditions. If storms and clouds are moving through, we'll spend more time photographing during the day. When skies are clear, we'll be out looking for the Milky Way. The itinerary below is just an example of what you can expect.
  • Day 1 (Mon Mar 23):  Meet at 2PM at The Chuckwagon Motel in Torrey, UT for a mandatory introductory session. After a quick dinner, we hike up to a high viewpoint in Capitol Reef to capture a brilliant sunset!
  • Day 2 (Tues Mar 24): With clear skies in the forecast, we wake up at 3AM to shoot the Milky Way. You will learn various methods for foreground enhancement. As twilight dawns, we hike out to another spot to capture the golden hues of sunrise over the stunning red rocks.  After lunch, we continue to Hanksville UT where we check in to our hotel and take a midday break.  In the evening we venture out to shoot the Blue Hills and Badlands in soft twilight.
  • Day 3 (Wed Mar 25):  It's another 3AM wake-up call to shoot the Milky Way from an amazing viewpoint over the badlands.  We stay out there through sunrise and then return to town for breakfast. We regroup for a post-processing session where you'll learn many tips to get the most out of your images.  With clouds rolling in for the evening, we photograph sunset at a place filled with interesting rock hoodoos.
  • Day 4 (Thurs Mar 26):  This morning we are back in the Badlands for sunrise. The sky explodes with color and we practice our focus stacking skills with the cracked mud formations. We return for another post-processing session and then head out to a slot canyon in the afternoon.  After dinner we hike out to a remote section of the Badlands for sunset.
  • Day 5 (Fri Mar 27): Skies are clear this morning so we get up extra early and drive out to Cathedral Valley for Milky Way and sunrise.  We return to Hanksville for our final post-processing session and our group lunch. The workshop will conclude no later than 2PM.
Capitol Reef Night Photography
Badlands Abstract
Badlands Photo Workshop Utah


Please arrive in Torrey, UT prior to 2PM on March 23 for the orientation session. Single occupancy lodging is included in the workshop fee. If you would like double occupancy, we can give both people a $250 discount.

Participants should have their own vehicle to get to Torrey and Hanksville.  All transportation during the workshop is included. Everyone on this trip should be in reasonably good physical condition.  We aren't planning any long hikes, but the uneven terrain, sand, and steep uphills can make short hikes seem much harder.  You should be comfortable walking around 3-4 miles per day.

We timed this workshop for optimal spring Milky Way photography. However, we can't control the weather and if skies are cloudy one day, we'll plan an outing to a different location and focus on sunrise/sunset photography. Don't worry - we'll make the best possible use of our time. Our job is to get you the most stunning photos and help you learn as much as possible!

The weather is highly variable in early spring. It could be sunny and warm or a cold front might come in and bring some rain and snow. The nights will be cold, so you will want plenty of warm layers. It can also be windy in the spring.  Please see the gear list further down.

This area definitely has potential to become the next photography hotspot. We don't want to see that happen since it is such a delicate area that can't handle a lot of traffic. We ask all participants to not reveal specific locations when posting shots online.

Additional Notes


Many of the areas we visit are perfect for using a drone camera.  It's up to you if you want to bring a drone on this trip and we'll be happy to assist you with your aerial photography.

Both David Swindler and Dustin LeFevre are instructing the workshop. Dustin has photographed this area probably more than anyone else.  Both he and David have a lot of experience leading photo workshops and will help you learn new photography skills and techniques.  You can read David's and Dustin's bios below.

The workshop is capped at 8 participants so that we can give you adequate individual attention.  We are licensed commercial guides for the areas that we'll take you too. We carry a satellite beacon in case we run into any emergencies in the backcountry. You will feel safe venturing off the beaten path with us!

If you go out to photograph the Milky Way, it will only be visible very early in the morning.  This will mean waking up at 3AM to photograph the Milky Way from 4-5AM.  It's a good idea to bring eye covers and ear plugs in case you need to sleep during the day.

If you are interested in extending the workshop by an extra day or two, just Contact Us and we'll suggest some great locations we can take you to!

Badlands Photo Workshop Utah Photo Tours
Beyond the Badlands Photography Workshop
Beyond the Badlands Photography Workshop Goblin Valley Night


$2495 per Person


Trip Includes:

  • All ground transportation and photography guiding during the trip.
  • 4 Nights Single Occupancy Hotel Lodging. For double occupancy, we can give a $250/person discount.
  • Post-processing and image critique
  • Lighting equipment and fixtures for night photography.
  • Park entrance fees.
  • Final Group Lunch


Trip Does NOT Include:

  • Transportation to/from your home to Torry and Hanksville, UT.
  • Alcoholic Beverages.
  • Meals and snacks with exception of final group lunch.


When you complete the checkout process, you will be given the option to either pay the full amount or put down a 50% deposit.  If you pay the deposit, the remaining amount will be charged 30-days prior to arrival to the credit card we have on file.

Recommended Camera Gear

  • Sturdy tripod and ballhead
  • Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera Body.
  • Fast Wide Angle Lens. Our favorite night photo lenses include Tamron 15-30mm f2.8, Rokinon 14mm f2.8, Nikon 14-24mm f2.8, and Canon 16-35mm III f2.8.
  • Mid-range zoom lens in the range of 24-100mm.
  • Long telephoto lenses will come in handy for creating abstract images. We really like our Sigma/Tamron 150-600mm lenses.
  • Circular polarizer filters are useful.  Bring any ND filters if you have them.
  • Extra batteries, memory cards, and cleaning supplies.
  • Remote cord for your camera. An intervalometer will be especially useful for doing long exposures at night.
  • Laptop if you wish to backup your photos or follow along during the post-processing instruction.
  • We may be able to rent you gear if you don't have everything you need.

Personal Gear List

  • Sturdy hiking footwear, hiking socks, and long pants .
  • A rain jacket and several warm layers since it will get cold at night.
  • Warm hat and gloves.
  • Headlamp for night photography.
  • Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Sun Hat.
  • Water bottle or hydration bladder.
  • Hiking poles if you like having them.

Badlands Photo Workshop Utah Photo Tours
Badlands Photo Workshop Utah


"My experience on the Utah Badlands Photo Workshop singularly changed my outlook on landscape photography. Being a professional commercial photographer for the past decade, I thought I knew the boundaries of photography. However, David and Dustin generously and eloquently shared their photographic vision and helped push me beyond my limits to a place I had never been before. "

- A.J - UT

"Exceptional trip to the Utah Badlands with Action Photo Tours and trip leaders David Swindler and Dustin Lefevre. They know and care about the land and when to be where to observe and photograph this stunning area. I learned a ton of photography and connected with a great group of people."

- Meg, CA

"David and Dustin are passionate about getting you to unique and unknown locations and make sure they get you there for the best lighting conditions. They give you as much attention or independence as you need to have a successful workshop. David and Dustin also do a great job of balancing time in the field with time spent on photo editing."

- Ken, CA

"Just finished the Beyond the Badlands Workshop and it was awesome! David and Dustin were upbeat and know this area like the back of their hands. They were knowledgeable and always ready to help, no matter what your experience level, both with shooting and with post processing questions! "

- George, FL

"David and Dustin do an amazing job of both instructing and guiding clients to the most amazing and undiscovered places in the Badlands of Southern Utah. If you want to travel with real pros who get you to the best shots, in the best places and most importantly at the right times - go with the team at Action Photo Tours." 

- Richard, TX

"Fantastic trip, taken to places the normal person would not find or have the opportunity to photograph. If you like landscape photography, this is the group to travel with."

- James, GA

"The guides knew the best places and times to get some great photos. I learned a ton of tips to improve my photography."

- Jaime, CO

"Just finished the Beyond the Badlands Workshop and it was awesome! David and Dustin were upbeat and know this area like the back of their hands. They were knowledgeable and always ready to help, no matter what your experience level, both with shooting and with post processing questions! "

- George, FL

Dustin LeFevre

Instructor - Dustin LeFevre


Dustin LeFevre is a Utah based landscape photographer with a deep appreciation for the diverse landscapes of the arid Desert. While exploring unique locations in the Southwest, Dustin spends a good amount of time sleeping on the ground or in his truck seeking the conditions that make for unforgettable images. His expertise ranges from traditional landscape and aerial photography to post processing.


As an avid outdoorsman he is most comfortable in the extremes that are inherent to the high desert and has an enthusiasm for sharing the geography he has come to love. Dustin’s images capture not only what he sees in nature but also how it makes him feel.

David Swindler

Instructor - David Swindler


David Swindler is a National Geographic award-winning landscape and wildlife photographer.  He received a degree in chemical engineering and worked many years in the semiconductor industry specializing in optics and photolithography. Thus, the technical side of photography came very easy to him. Back in 2014 he decided to quit his day job to follow his true passion. As a photographer, he has traveled to many locations around the world and has extensive experience with landscape, wildlife, night, and macro photography. He finds great satisfaction in helping others learn photography, especially in the wild desert environment near his home in Kanab, UT.  Follow the links below to see more of Mr. Swindler's work.

Gallery    Media Recognition    500px     Flickr

Mr Swindler has been leading guided photo tours for several years and knows many different camera systems and how to capture the best photos. On his trips, you'll travel to impressive locations and receive photography instruction at the same time! Unlike many other photo guides, his clients are his top priority while out in the field. Read what others are saying about his trips here: Trip Advisor. Mr Swindler has extensive outdoor experience and will ensure your safety and well-being. If you have any questions, please Contact Us and we'll be happy to assist. Happy travels!

Need More Information? Contact Us!

Phone Number: 435-767-0222

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