Grand Canyon Monsoon Season
August 3-6, 2021
When monsoon storms roll in, there is no better place to be than the Grand Canyon. We will spend two nights at the North Rim Lodge chasing the dramatic skies, lightning, and storms. If the skies clear up overnight, conditions are perfect for Milky Way photography. The workshop includes one bonus day where we'll decide where we shoot based on the weather forecast. This workshop is rated moderate for physical intensity, with 2-4 miles of hiking each day.
- Monsoon season is the most exciting time to photograph the Grand Canyon as dramatic skies, rainbows, lightning, storms, and epic light often prevail.
- The North Rim is the quiet side of the Grand Canyon, away from the maddening crowds of the South Rim.
- Workshop dates are timed for best monsoon conditions along with no moon interference for Milky Way photography.
- After the Grand Canyon, we have one "open" day with location TBD depending on the weather forecast and group interest.
- We'll visit locations that are far off the beaten path. You will acquire a diverse set of images during the time we spend together.
- Learn many new in-field photographic skills and weather forecasting techniques from pro photographer David Swindler.
The itinerary is being kept flexible to account for weather and current conditions. Expert forecasting, group consensus and weather will dictate our final itineray.
- Day 1 (Aug 3): Meet at 1PM in Kanab, UT for a mandatory introductory session. We'll cover logistics and make plans for our upcoming days together. After a quick dinner, we drive out to the Grand Canyon. With a sky full of dramatic clouds, we are treated to a brilliant sunset! We check into the North Rim Lodge after dark.
- Day 2 (Aug 4): We are up early for sunrise at one of our favorite east-facing viewpoints. After breakfast, we do some short hikes along the rim and then enjoy a midday break. We regroup later in the afternoon and head out to very remote and photogenic viewpoint. As storms start to move across the canyon, we get out our lightning triggers to capture the bolts. The light breaks through at sunset treating us to a distant rainbow and impressive colors! When we get back to the lodge, we notice the skies have cleared, so we stay out to take some Milky Way photos over the canyon.
- Day 3 (Aug 5): We wake up early and go out to Cape Royal for sunrise. The skies are pretty clear so we focus more on the light as it illuminates and accentuates the canyon features. After checking out of the hotel, we meet up and review the weather forecast. We decide to head to a viewpoint further west and head out that way for sunset. We return to Kanab after dark and check into our hotel.
- Day 4 (Aug 6): This is our "open" day and the itinerary will be dictated by the weather forecast and group interest. We have permits to guide all over the Southwest, so we have the freedom to go where we'll have best conditions. The workshop will conclude after sunset on the 6th.
Please arrive at the Best Western Red Hills in Kanab, UT on Aug 3rd prior to 1PM Utah time for an orientation session. Single occupancy accommodations are included in the price at the North Rim Frontier Cabins. If you would like double occupancy, please Contact Us and we can give each person a $200 discount.
You will need your own transportation to get to the gateway location of Kanab, UT. We will provide transportation for all workshop outings. You are welcome to drive your own vehicle out to the North Rim if you prefer. If you want to ride with us, we have a safe place you can leave your vehicle. Please pack light since we won't have room in the vehicle for more than one suitcase per person.
All participants on this trip should be in reasonably good physical condition. Although we aren't planning any long hikes on this trip, the uneven terrain and elevation can make short hikes seem much harder. You should be comfortable walking around 2-4 miles per day while carrying your camera gear. Bring your hiking poles if you like using them.
See the gear list further down for specific recommendations. No matter what the weather does, we’ll get awesome photos. Make sure you bring warm clothes since we will be at high elevation and it can get cold at night or if a storm moves in. A rain jacket is a must in case the weather is unsettled. You will also want a rain cover for your camera backpack.
If skies are clear night, we will photograph the Milky Way. Each participant will need their own headlight. We also recommend everyone bring a fast wide angle lens (f/2.8 or faster) along with a remote cord for long exposures.
The workshop will conclude sometime after sunset on Aug 6th in Kanab. You can stay longer in the area or head somewhere else. If you decide to stay in Kanab, you will need to book your own lodging for the night of the 6th.
$2195 Per Person
If you would like double occupancy lodging, we can offer each person a $200 discount.
- 4-Day Intensive Photo Workshop with max 5 participants.
- 2 Nights of single occupancy hotel lodging on the North Rim (Frontier Cabins) and one night at the Best Western in Kanab. If you would like double occupancy, we can offer each person a $200 discount.
- All ground transportation and photography guiding during the trip.
- Permits and fees for National Parks and all areas we visit.
- Night photography and instruction.
- Post-processing instruction will also be provided.
Trip Does NOT Include:
- Transportation to/from your home to Kanab, UT.
- Alcoholic Beverages.
- Meals and snacks.
- Lodging for the night of Aug 6th.
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 the trip to the credit card we have on file.
Recommended Camera Gear
- Sturdy tripod and ballhead
- Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera Body.
- Backpack to carry your camera gear
- Wide Angle Lens (full frame equivalent): 16-35mm range. For night photography, everyone should have a wide angle that is f/2.8 or faster.
- Mid-range zoom lens in the range of 24-100mm. Optional: Fast mid-range primes like 35mm and 50mm can be useful for Grand Canyon night photography.
- Telephoto lenses will be useful for abstract compositions and wildlife.
- Bring circular polarizer filters and any ND filters if you have them.
- Extra batteries, memory cards, and cleaning supplies.
- Remote cord for your camera.
- Laptop if you wish to backup your photos or do any post-processing.
- 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.
- Hiking poles or stick if you have balance issues.
- A rain jacket, hat gloves, and warm layers since it can get cold at night.
- Headlamp for night photography.
- Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Sun Hat
- Water bottle or hydration bladder
David Swindler is an award-winning landscape and wildlife photographer. Among others, he has been recognized by Sony World Photography Awards, International Landscape Photographer of the Year, and National Geographic. He received a degree in chemical engineering and worked in the semiconductor industry specializing in optics and photolithography. In 2014, he left his day job to follow his true passion. He has traveled to some of the most remote regions of the world and has extensive experience photographing a wide variety of subjects and conditions. He finds great satisfaction in helping others learn photography, especially in the wild desert environment near his home in Kanab, UT. David is an expert in night photography and loves to get out and shoot the starry night skies. Catch a glimpse of David's work in the slideshow, and follow the links below to see more!
Having guided photo tours for years, David is very familiar with many different types of cameras. He is a master with light and composition. But most importantly, his dedication to his clients is what really sets him apart! Just read what others are saying here: Trip Advisor.