Beyond the Badlands

Aug 29 - Sept 2, 2019

Beyond the Badlands Photography 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 will shoot the night skies each evening as long as it's clear.
  • With 2 instructors, we guarantee plenty of individual attention.  You will learn many new camera skills while visiting some of the most spectacular spots on earth!
  • 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 being kept flexible to allow us to chase the best conditions. If skies are clear, we'll focus on Milky Way shooting in the evening. If storms and clouds are moving through, we'll spend more time photographing during the day. The itinerary below is just an example of what you can expect.
  • Day 1 (Thurs Aug 29):  Meet at 10AM in Hanksville, UT for a mandatory introductory session.  After lunch, we photograph mud cracks in perfect light and then head into some remote sections of Capitol  Reef for sunset.  When darkness falls, we'll shoot the brilliant Milky Way while learning various foreground enhancement techniques. Expect a late return.
  • Day 2 (Fri Aug 30):  We wake before sunrise to photograph some very unique looking rocks and hoodoos in golden light. From there we regroup and photograph a seldom visited slot canyon, looking for that soft reflected light. In the evening we hike out to a picturesque arch and stay out to photograph the Milky Way which is perfectly aligned with the arch in Sept.
  • Day 3 (Sat Aug 31):  It's another early morning up to an amazing viewpoint of the badlands for sunrise. This place is almost like being on a different planet!  We return to Hanksville mid-morning for a rest break and then embark for an evening shoot in Goblin Valley. You'll have a great time finding compositions among these oddly shaped hoodoos. Once it gets dark, we'll get out our lights and setup some Milky Way shots.  You will love the dark skies in this area!
  • Day 4 (Sun Sept 1):  We're out again at dawn to capture first light on stunning sections of badlands. The angled light will make the landscape come alive!  During the day, we'll explore the most colorful sections of badlands.  At sunset, we'll get out our telephoto lenses and shoot abstract compositions of the blue hills.  Since it's cloudy tonight, we elect to skip night photos and get to bed early for some much needed rest.
  • Day 5 (Monday Sept 2):  We decide to use the morning for a post-processing workshop. We'll use your own images and show you handy tricks to improve your photos. We return to the badlands in the afternoon and stay out shooting through sunset. Once back in Hanksville, we have our final group dinner to celebrate this novel experience and the new friends we've made.
Badlands Photo Workshop
Mud Cracks Milky Way Beyond the Badlands Photography Workshop


Please arrive in Hanksville, UT prior to 10AM on Thurs Aug 29 for the orientation session. We didn’t include hotel stays on this trip to allow you the flexibility of a lodging option of your choice.  The Hanksville Inn is offering our workshop participants a 20% discount. To receive the discount, simply mention that you are with Action Photo Tours when doing the online booking.  You will need lodging for the nights of Aug 29 - Sept 1. You are welcome to stay in Hanksville the night of Sept 2nd after we finish or you can go somewhere else.

We are offering a workshop extension for those who are interested on either Aug 28 or Sept 3. We will go to locations where we can't take a larger group. Contact Us if you'd like to add an extra day or two.

Participants should have their own vehicle to get to 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 on this trip, 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 fall 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. Our job is to get you the most stunning photos and help you learn as much as possible!

The weather should be temperate and sunny with cool nights.  But come prepared just in case rain and cold temps move in. You'll need to bring warm layers to ensure you don't get cold photographing at night.  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 will ask all participants to not the reveal the locations of many places we shoot when posting 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.  However, the focus of this trip is on Milky Way photography and we won't have a lot of time for participants to be setting up and dismantling drones.  Please let us know if you will be bringing a drone on the workshop. Contact us for more info.

Both David Swindler and Dustin LeFevre will be your instructors on this 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.  Dustin has his pilot's license and knows a lot about aeriel photography techniques.

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 communication device in case we run into any emergencies in the backcountry.


Badlands Photo Workshop Utah Photo Tours
Beyond the Badlands Photography Workshop
Mud Cracks


$1995/person + Tax


Trip Includes:

  • All ground transportation and photography guiding during the trip.
  • Post-processing and image critique
  • Lighting equipment and fixtures for night photography.
  • Park entrance fees.
  • Final Group Dinner.


Trip Does NOT Include:

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


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 can get cold at night.
  • Headlamp for night photography.
  • Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Hat.
  • Water bottle or hydration bladder.
  • Hiking poles if you like having them.

Badlands Photo Workshop Utah Photo Tours
Beyond the Badlands Photography Workshop
Upper Cathedral Valley Beyond the Badlands Photography Workshop


"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

"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

"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

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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