Death Valley Photo Workshop
March 1-5 2019
Experience the rugged beauty of Death Valley National Park. Stand atop soaring vistas, trek through pristine sand dunes, photograph towering canyon walls, and gaze upon otherworldly colors and textures! The workshop dates are optimized for Milky Way photography and wildflowers. You will definitely be wowed!
- Learn many new in-field photography techniques and post-processing tricks from pro photographers Kevin McNeal and David Swindler.
- The workshop dates are optimized for early morning Milky Way photography in addition to the best chances for seeing wildflowers!
- Photograph many of the classic Death Valley locations in addition to many spots well off the beaten path.
- The itinerary is kept flexible so we can chase the best weather conditions.
- We provide all the transportation during the workshop so you don't have to worry about trying to follow us and park your own vehicle.
- Post-processing and image critique sessions will be scheduled throughout the workshop to help you make the most of your images.
The exact itinerary will be kept flexible to account for the weather and current conditions in the park. We will optimize our time for the best possible photography. The itinerary below is just an example of what you can expect.
- Day 1 (Fri Mar 1): Meet at 1PM at The Oasis at Death Valley in Furnace Creek for a mandatory orientation session. We'll cover many of the shooting techniques you will use throughout the workshop. We'll head out mid-afternoon to photograph some rugged canyons, finishing with sunset at one of our favorite views in the park.
- Day 2 (Sat Mar 2): With nice clouds in the sky, we wake up early to photograph the salt polygons at Badwater. We venture further afield to huge fields of wildflowers surrounded by colorful mountains. In the afternoon we photograph old cars, waterfalls, joshua trees, ghost towns, and finish with sunset with Badwater Basin stretched out below us.
- Day 3 (Sun Mar 3): Since skies are clear, we get up at 1AM and drive out to some remote sand dunes for Milky Way photography. We stay out through mid-morning capturing the ripples, curves, and textures of the dunes. We return to Furnace Creek for lunch. Late afternoon we reconvene for an intensive post-processing session. We photograph a spot nearby for sunset.
- Day 4 (Mon Mar 4): It's another early morning departure for a sunrise shoot. With dramatic clouds, we opt for a sweeping view and then photograph some crazy mud cracks. We return for lunch and an afternoon post-processing session and sunset shoot.
- Day 5 (Tues Mar 5): We lucked out and skies are clear again, so we wake up very early to go out and shoot the Milky Way. After a brilliant sunrise we return to Furnace Creek to check out of the hotel and say our goodbyes.
Please arrive at The Oasis at Death Valley (the Ranch) prior to 1PM on Mar 1st for the orientation session. We have reserved a block of rooms with 2 queen beds at $220/night + taxes/fees. After booking, we will email you a code you can use to book your room. You are welcome to stay elsewhere if you'd like but be aware that it will add a lot of extra driving time. You can also camp, but it can be difficult to take naps during the day due to the heat.
Participants should have their own vehicle to get to Furnace Creek. All transportation during the workshop is included but you are welcome to follow us in your own vehicle if you prefer. Everyone on this trip should be in reasonably good physical condition. We aren't planning any long hikes on this trip and you should be comfortable 2-4 miles per day while carrying your photo gear.
Food is not included as part of the workshop. You are free to bring your own food or eat at the restaurants in Furnace Creek. Dining options are pretty limited in Death Valley and you may want to buy groceries before arriving (mini-fridge in the rooms).
The temperatures should be pretty temperate in early March. Expect high temps in the 80's. Morning lows could dip as low as freezing, so make sure you bring some warm layers. Rain is always a possibility, so make sure you bring a rain jacket and something to cover your backpack. It can be very windy in Death Valley this time of year. We recommend bringing a cover for your camera. Please see the gear list further down.
$1795/person + Tax
- All ground transportation from Furnace Creek.
- Photography guiding and instruction throughout the trip.
- Post-processing and image critique sessions.
- Night photography.
Trip Does NOT Include:
- Hotel accomodations. We do have a block of rooms reserved at the Death Valley Oasis you can use.
- Transportation to/from your home to Furnace Creek.
- Meals, beverages, and snacks.
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 60-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.
- Wide angle lens in the 14-30mm range. For night photography, you will need a lens that is at least f/2.8 or faster. The wider angle the better.
- Mid-range zoom lens in the range of 24-100mm.
- Long telephoto lenses will come in handy for landscape compression and wildlife encounters.
- Circular polarizer filters and ND filters for your lenses. If you like shooting with grads, bring them along. A 9 or 10-stop ND filter will be useful for creating very long exposures.
- Extra batteries, memory cards, and cleaning supplies.
- Remote cord for your camera.
- Cover for your camera/lens to protect against high winds.
- Laptop if you wish to backup your photos or follow along during the post-processing instruction.
Personal Gear List
- Sturdy hiking footwear, hiking socks, and long pants .
- A rain jacket and several warm layers.
- Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Sun Hat, and Gloves
- Water bottle or hydration bladder.
- Hiking poles if you like having them.
Instructor - Kevin McNeal
Kevin McNeal is a Washington St. photographer focusing on grand colorful landscapes that reflect the most unique places on earth. Capturing moments of magic light and transferring this on print, images behold a combination of perseverance, patience, and dedication to capture the images in ways unseen before. The stories of how these images are rendered come across in the feelings the images convey. Traveling all over North America with his wife by his side, shooting diverse landscapes and finding remote places to bring the message to the public that this Earth is worth saving. His award winning images can be seen in galleries and showings across the United States, and was recently selected to the Art Wolfe Art Gallery for the Environmental Photography Invitational. As well Kevin was the grand winner of the Landscape category for the Natures Best Magazine and was selected for the Smithsonian National Museum of History in Washington D.C..
“ I believe that the Earth shares secrets with us that only can be discovered by trying to understand our position on this planet. We are never fully intimate with the planet but are given brief moments that make our souls want more. These glimpses of nature’s power are fleeting and never the same twice. I also believe it is important to share with those who want it. The treasures that await us given the patience that is out there. What I try to do is bring some of that magic to my images to share with the rest of the world. Each of my images tells a story that everyone can relate to in some way whether is was success, fear, or challenging oneself to overcome obstacles
Kevin's portfolio can be found at www.kevinmcnealphotography.com.
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.
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!