The West Texas Night Photography Workshop
Monday, January 23 - Friday, January 27, 2017
The Milky Way
The moon rises behind some clouds
The West Texas Night Photography Workshop In some of the darkest skies in the world. The sky at our location is rated Class 1 (darkest) on the Bortle Scale for lowest levels of light pollution.
Monday, January 23 - Friday, January 27, 2017
All food and lodging included in the price!
6 days in the desert of west Texas, near the small town of Alpine, about
220 miles southeast of El Paso;
165 miles southwest of Midland;
approximately 75 miles north of Big Bend National Park
We have room for only 6 students for this special workshop!
(Possibilities exist for folks to double-up so please call 559-307-7773 and let me arrange it case-by-case.)
Light painting a young jeffrey pine on Sentinel Dome in Yosemite
Shooting the Milky Way
Light painting an old adobe desert cabin and windmill
Ue of "gelled flashes" for adding color to your night shots
How to set up strobes and on-camera flashes with Pocket Wizard remote triggers
How to do star trails
Special post-processing for night photography
We'll do a special project, lighting an automobile at night
for a cool composite shot
ISO speeds, aperture and shutter speed, how to ignore the numbers and
get GREAT shots.
Composition; learn the rules and then how and when to break them. Concepts of exposure; the histogram and how to
read the graph
Use of polarizing
Use of neutral-density filters.
"Dragging the shutter"; extended exposures (motion blur), even in full
How to make sure you got "the" shot in any given situation.
Learn the value of patience; how to read the weather.
Shooting for black and white conversion.
Wide angle and telephoto lens use.
We will base at the 101 Ranch in the west Texas desert for dark, wide open skies and 5,000 foot altitude. The 101 Ranch is situated in an isolated location about 40 minutes from Alpine and 20 minutes from the artist town of Marfa. Despite its remote location, it has every convenience; central air conditioning in all rooms, satellite TV, and somewhat of an internet connection. Cell phone service is very bad at the headquarters, but there are high ridges not far from the house on the ranch where signals are very strong.
Count on warm days and cool nights. The main living room has a huge fireplace.
The main house
The bunkhouse; four rooms, 5 beds
The Living room in the main house
The kitchen and dining area w/ loft bedroom
The Living room and dining area in the main house
Main house porch
A wood-burning fireplace
The Double Beds for those who might share a room for a discount
Queen size bed
Queen size bed and wood-burning fireplace
The Tentative Schedule, weather permitting.
Day 1 Sunday
Arrive in Alpine, Texas in your rental car. At 5pm we will caravan from there to the ranch, about a 30 minute drive. Settle in, and then have dinner. After dinner we'll have a short meeting and then you're on your own.
Day 2 Monday
Sunrise shooting beginning at 5am, then breakfast at 8am. 9am, first meeting to adjust camera settings and assess weather for remainder of the day, look at pics, receive critique, etc. We'll head out for the first day's shooting at 3pm, dinner at 6pm, then settle in for the sunset, then night shooting until folks get tired.
Day 3 Tuesday
Breakfast at 8am. Off to shoot on the ranch afterward if desired. Out for the sunset at 3pm. Dinner after sunset, then off to the McDonald Observatory for the Star Parties. Night shooting at the observatory.
Day 4 Wednesday
This is normally the day we learn post-processing for night shooting. How to use Lightroom, Photoshop and various RAW conversion software, as well as software for stitching start trails. Then, night shooting.
Day 5 Thursday
Image critique and image processing. We will head out at 3pm for the sunset and night shooting.
Breakfast at whenever you wake up. Possibly a day in Marfa to tour the art galleries and have lunch. Shoot the Prada, Marfa store. Back to the ranch for dinner and night shooting.
Up early to shoot sunrise, breakfast, check out of the 101 ranch, last-minute shooting for those who wish and home. You can hang around during the day while we clean, then home.
All food and lodging, observatory and park entrance fees for 5 days and 6 nights is
Please note; For lodging, there is NO single supplement! Each student will have his or her own private room. If two people traveling together wish to share a room, take $200 off the price of the workshop each. Please let me know if this is the case when you sign up. Be aware, except for one bedroom, double occupancy is one queen-size bed.
All food will be provided.
Breakfast will be a continental breakfast with coffee, juice and fruit. Lunch will be either on the ranch or sandwiches in shooting excursions. Dinner will be the at the ranch prepared by our cook, Cathy McCarthy.
are responsible for
getting to Alpine, Texas by 5pm on January 22 or July 21 depending, obviously, on which workshop you sign up for. You should book your flight to Midland-Odessa, Texas, the closest airport. Alpine is about a 3 hour drive from the Midland-Odessa airport straight south. It is STRONGLY recommended you rent a car with GPS in order to insure a stress-free drive to Alpine. I have
found that once in a while participants have to
leave early for family emergencies, sickness, etc and so as not to
disturb the agenda for remaining participants, your ability to travel
independently is important. We will carpool to the various shooting locations and utilize two-way radios to coordinate last-minute changes in itinerary and sudden shooting opportunities. Past students of my workshops can attest to the fact that the weather dictates our daily activities and plans can change quickly. We'll have an incredible adventure!
Items to Bring
Although it does not matter what equipment you have, you will get the
most out of it if your camera has manual settings and shoots RAW and
the ability to connect a cable shutter release.
Obviously, bring your
wide-angle lenses. Bring telephotos as well if you have them;
you'll use them more than you think. But for star/sky photography the wider the lens, the better
Best tripod you can muster w/ extra clamp plates. You'll be very disappointed if you lose your one and only tripod clamp
(This happened one time)
Cable release (imperative)
Neutral density filters; one .6 and one .9 if possible.
We might do some motion-blur photography. Don't
forget your lens shades
Extra memory cards and spare camera batteries
Bring your camera's owner's manual; this will help solve problems with
settings, especially if you are a Nikon or Sony shooter.
Bring several lens cloths and
cleaning liquid; I will have liquid, but bring your own cloths, if
Be sure you have a wearable photo backpack for daily hiking trips.
Laptop computer with spare
batteries. Don't forget your CF/SD card reader!!
People forget these all the time!
Rain and cold weather gear,
both for your equipment and for you. Shooting could
involve standing out in the rain or snow. Water-proof hiking boots
would be very useful.
Terms and Conditions
the unlikely event that the workshop does not fill enough spaces to
warrant continuing, the class will be canceled and a full refund given.
You will be notified at least thirty days in advance if a workshop is
not going to take place. The West Texas Night Photography Workshop is
responsible for non-refundable airline reservations in the event of
We strongly recommend you get trip
cancellations of the workshop received prior to 90 days before
workshop will receive a refund minus $300 unless the spot can be
refilled, in which case 100% refund will be given. Due to the
unusual complexity and extensive planning required for these workshops,
no refunds will be offered for participant-initiated cancellations
after 90 days prior to workshop date unless the spot can be re-filled.
(It should be noted in 10 years I have never cancelled a workshop). No refunds will be given for conditions arising out of Acts of God or conditions beyond my control. Credit for a future workshop within two years will be given.
Workshop liability insurance
provided by Great American Insurance Group
The "Bill Me Later" PayPal arrangement is better than stretching out
the payments on your credit card; it features no payment AND no
interest for six months and if you take longer the interest rate is