Storms and Saguaros Workshop
August 1-4, 2019
Join us as we chase storms to capture brilliant bolts of lightning over the desert landscape in Arizona. Monsoon season provides dramatic light, lightning, and rainbows, so there are plenty of great photographic opportunities this time of year. The techniques you learn will help improve your photography and expand your photographic toolkit.
- Photograph Southern Arizona during the height of the monsoon season. Expect big storms, lightning, and dramatic light!
- Resident storm photographer Greg McCown has extensive experience following the weather patterns and knows the best spots to shoot. Both he and pro-photographer David Swindler will be leading the workshop.
- Small group size to ensure adequate individual attention between the 2 instructors.
- The itinerary is kept flexible so we can take advantage of everything mother nature throws at us. We'll follow the storms even if it means driving some long distances!
- If skies are clear, we'll do night photography and capture the Milky Way.
- Instruction on how to photograph storms and lightning will be provided. You'll learn how to read weather patterns and keep yourself safe. Image critique and post-processing is also included!
- Read our blog post on how to photograph lightning HERE
The itinerary is being kept flexible to account for weather and current conditions. This is a storm chasing workshop, so we're focused on capturing the most dramatic storms wherever they may be. This itinerary is only meant to give you an idea of what we could be doing each day.
- Day 1 (Aug 1): Meet at 1PM for a mandatory orientation session in Tucson, AZ. We'll go over many techniques for photographing storms and how we forecast and plan for the weather. After we're done, we notice a cell of storms east of town. We find some nice saguaros and capture daytime lightning shots along with a dramatic sunset.
- Day 2 (Aug 2): We meet back up mid-morning for a post-processing session. After lunch, the wind patterns are indicative of a dust storm to the northwest. We hurry out there and photograph some intense haboob activity. We stay out until nearly 2AM since the lightning keeps on coming!
- Day 3 (Aug 3): We don't start until afternoon due to the late night we had. The temps are cooler today and there isn't much storm activity. We decide to go out and photograph some of the waterfalls that are flowing. At sunset, we get some warm golden light on the saguaros. Once it gets dark, we head up into the mountains and photograph the brilliant Milky Way!
- Day 4 (Aug 4): With the forecast looking good for sunrise, we wake up early and drive to a beautiful viewpoint to capture some spectacular cloud color. We return to Tucson for a midday break. Once we regroup in the afternoon, we make plans to follow a storm that is developing to the south. By strategically placing ourselves ahead of the storm's path, we are able to capture some insane shelf clouds and many bolts of lightning. We jump back into the vehicles as the rain begins to pour down. This storm fizzles as we get closer to sunset, so we drive back north and get some nice shots of rain cells glowing orange in the sunset light. We return to Tucson for our final group dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in town.
Please arrive in Tucson, AZ prior to 1PM on Thurs, August 1 for the orientation session. The address will be provided after registration. We didn’t include hotel stays on this trip to allow you the flexibility of a lodging option of your choice. We recommend staying at or near the Marriott Residence Inn in Williams Center. Transportation is provided during the workshop, but you will need to get from your hotel to our pre-arranged meet-up spot in Tucson each day.
All participants on this trip should be in reasonably good physical condition. We aren't planning to do much hiking on this trip, but participants should be comfortable walking around 1-2 miles per day.
We timed this workshop for the best chance of monsoon storms and dramatic clouds. However, we can't control the weather but we'll certainly make the best at what Mother Nature throws at us. If skies are clear, then we'll focus on landscape photography and the Milky Way. The dates fall when we won't have moon interference during the best Milky Way hours.
You may experience many different kinds of weather in July and August. Expect very hot temperatures, especially in the afternoon. But if storms come in, it can be very wet with milder temperatures. Make sure you bring good rain gear and waterproof covers for your camera. See the gear list further down for specific recommendations.
Capturing daytime lightning requires a lightning trigger that is specific to your camera. The trigger is not needed for shooting lightning at dusk or at night. Do know that you get what you pay for in lightning triggers. Cheap triggers will usually deliver poor results.
$1595/person + Tax
- 4-Day Intensive Photo Workshop with 2 Instructors.
- All ground transportation and photography guiding.
- Post-processing and image critique.
- Group dinner on our final day in Tucson. Please note alcoholic beverages are not included.
Trip Does NOT Include:
- Transportation to/from your home to Tucson, AZ.
- Hotel Accommodations.
- Alcoholic Beverages.
- Meals and snacks with exception of the 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 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.
- Wide Angle Lens. Frame frame - aim for 16-35mm range or wider. Crop sensor, 10-22mm.
- Mid-range zoom lens in the range of 24-100mm.
- Telephoto lenses are optional but may come in handy for certain situations.
- Circular polarizer filters are useful. Bring any ND filters if you have them.
- Extra batteries, memory cards, cleaning supplies, micro-fiber clothes, and waterproof sleeves for your camera (optional).
- Remote cord for your camera. An intervalometer would be even better.
- Lightning trigger if you wish to capture daytime lightning.
- 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 footwear, hiking socks, and long pants (keeps sand out of your shoes and lessens pain if you rub a cactus).
- A rain jacket and one warm layer since it can get cold at night.
- Headlamp for night photography.
- Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Sun Hat
- Water bottle or hydration bladder.
"Exciting and Educational! These guys know their stuff. Shooting stars, Lightning and Sunsets in beautiful locations. Following the storms was a thrill! Thank you!"
"Fantastic workshop. Super knowledgeable instructors providing precise expertise in photography and post processing techniques. Highly recommend and will be attending many more workshops in the future."
"This was my second workshop with APT and as a photographer you will enjoy it in a unimaginable way. I recommend it 100%."
Instructor - Greg McCown
When he was just 9 months old Greg McCown moved to Tucson, AZ. Greg especially loves the mountains. He has spent many days and nights camping, hiking, skiing, and rapelling in the Catalina Mountains.
At age 21 Greg met the girl of his dreams. They quickly married and had 5 children together. Greg soon found that he really liked working in real estate, buying and selling properties both for himself and others. He has built spec homes, split lots, done rezonings, and been a landlord. He found that he truly enjoyed helping others in the process of buying and selling real estate. Even after obtaining an MBA in Global Management in May of 2002, Greg found that any new career would not be as fulfilling as the one he had come to enjoy so much.
In 2004, on a trip to Hawaii, Greg stole his wife’s camera. She never got it back and Greg became instantly obsessed. He spent years studying and practicing the art of photography and has become a well known landscape photographer specializing in storms, stars, and sunsets. His work is now found in magazines, calendars, the local news, and has been published internationally.
Instructor - David Swindler
David Swindler is a National Geographic Award Winning photographer, with a passion for capturing beautiful landscapes and wildlife in their natural environments. 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!