Hidden Gems of the Southwest
May 31 - June 5, 2022
Get off the beaten path on this 6-day adventure and explore some of the most geologically diverse lands on the planet! We have special access to seldom photographed places across the Southwest. Dates are timed for dark skies and Milky Way panos! Trip includes several outings into Monument Valley culminating with an overnight trip to Hunts Mesa! Post-processing and image critique will be offered on the last day of the workshop. Participants should be in good physical condition as we'll be walking up to 1-2 miles per day over rocky and sandy terrain.
- Photograph some of the most remote and stunning landscapes in the Southwest with our special access!
- Trip includes 4 nights hotel and a fully outfitted camping trip to Hunt's Mesa.
- Learn new night photography skills! Dates are optimized for dark skies and Milky Way shooting.
- Expect plenty of individual attention and learning with our small groups.
- Workshop fee includes the Navajo & Hopi guides, fees, and permits.
- All ground transportation is provided.
- Post-processing and image critique sessions will help you make the most of your images!
- Day 1 (May 31): Meet at 2PM in Page, AZ for a mandatory orientation session. After a quick dinner, we'll head out to our sunset spot. We decide as a group to check out some interesting rock formations and hoodoos. We get some great light and everyone is thrilled with their photos. We return to Page after dark.
- Day 2 (June 1): We wake well before sunrise to photograph a gigantic arch. The light is spectacular and the sky fires up for an incredible show. We head back to Page for breakfast and then make our way over to Monument Valley. After checking into the hotel, we meet our Navajo guides and photograph some of the backcountry areas through sunset. We break for dinner and then head out after dark to photograph the Milky Way deep in Monument Valley.
- Day 3 (June 2): If we stayed out late for night photography, we'll catch up on sleep this morning. If skies were cloudy, we'll do a sunrise shoot in Monument Valley. In the afternoon, we load up for a rough ride to the top of Hunt's Mesa. The vistas from up here are simply stunning! This is the part of Monument Valley not many folks get to see. We stay up after dark to capture some nightscapes before retiring to our tents.
- Day 4 (June 3): We wake up early to capture a brilliant sunrise on Hunt's Mesa. After a hearty breakfast we break camp and photograph an interesting arch. That afternoon we drive to Tuba City, check into our hotel, and spend the evening exploring a remote canyon with intricate geology and astonishing rock formations. We'll stay out after dark for night photos if skies are clear.
- Day 5 (June 4): We may skip sunrise if we were out late for night photos. If skies are cloudy, we'll do sunrise at a nearby location. In the afternoon we explore a dramatic canyon with formations of all sorts of odd shapes and colors. The views here are nothing short of impressive!
- Day 6 (June 5): It's another early morning as we head out to photograph one of our favorite views of the Grand Canyon. The drive is long and rough, but the solitude we have at such an amazing view more than makes up for it. We return to Page, AZ for lunch and do an afternoon post-processing and image critique session. The workshop will conclude by 4PM.
Please arrive in Page, AZ prior to 2PM on May 31 for the orientation session. Hotel stays for the nights of May 31, June 1, 3, and 4th are included in the workshop fee. the night of June 2 is our overnight camping trip. The base price assumes double occupancy. Single rooms are available for an additional fee (see the Pricing section below).
Participants should have their own transportation to get to/from Page, AZ. We provide all transportation during the workshop to the shooting locations. Since luggage space is limited in the workshop vehicle, you are welcome to follow us in your own vehicle as we travel between Page, Monument Valley, and Tuba City (all paved roads).
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 at least a couple miles per day with your camera gear.
The weather can be variable in early June. Usually, temps are fairly mild with lots of sun during the day. However, it can get very hot and wind storms are always a possibility. Make sure you dress appropriately and bring a warm layer so you don't get cold while photographing at night. Please see the gear list further down.
We will provide food during the Hunt's Mesa Overnight Camping portion. All other meals will be on your own, even if we are eating as a group. To give you flexibility in your travel plans, we are not including the final night of hotel on June 5th. It is up to you if you want to stay in the Page area or head elsewhere.
We are using authorized Navajo and Hopi guides for many of the areas we visit. The cost of these guides is included in the workshop fee. They appreciate tips and gratuities if you feel so inclined.
$3495/person + Tax
Single Occupancy adds an additional $400
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- 4 nights of hotels with double occupancy. Single occupancy adds $400
- Fully outfitted overnight camping trip to Hunt's Mesa.
- All Navajo and Hopi guides, park fees, and Navajo permits.
- All ground transportation and photography guiding during the trip.
- Post-processing and image critique
Trip Does NOT Include:
- Transportation to/from your home to Page, AZ.
- Alcoholic Beverages.
- Meals and snacks with exception of the Hunt's Mesa Overnight portion.
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 90-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 16-35mm range. If you have an ultra-wide in the 11-14mm range, bring it along since there are many places we can utilize it. For night photography, it's best to have a lens that is f/2.8 or faster.
- Mid-range zoom lens in the range of 24-100mm.
- Long telephoto lenses will come in handy in many locations. We really like the 100-400mm zoom lens.
- 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.
- 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 a warm layer.
- Sunscreen, Sunglasses, Warm Hat, Sun Hat, and Gloves
- Water bottle or hydration bladder.
- Hiking poles if you like having them.
- Please don't overpack, as we'll only have enough room in the vehicle for one suitcase and one camera bag.
David Swindler is a National Geographic award-winning landscape and wildlife photographer. He received a degree in chemical engineering and worked in the semiconductor industry specializing in optics and photolithography. Back in 2014 he quit his day job to follow his true passion. He has traveled to many locations around 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!
David has been leading guided photo tours for many years. He is very familiar with many different types of cameras and how to capture the best photos. And most importantly, his clients are the top priority while out in the field. Just read what others are saying here: Trip Advisor.