These really are the most frequently asked questions.
We recommend lodging in Yosemite West (about 20 minutes to Yosemite Valley) so as to have everyone in the same place and to avoid passing through an entrance gate into YNP each day, but you are free to secure lodging wherever you wish. The most economical are the Yosemite West Condos. These are hotel rooms with kitchenettes; think Marriott Courtyard rooms w/ kitchenettes, but smaller. The Studio units are downstairs, and sleep two comfortably, in a murphy bed and sofa-bed. The larger Loft units sleep 3 or 4 comfortably in two queen beds and a sofa-bed. Cell phone reception is depending on who your carrier is; I have Verizon and it is very spotty. All other carriers are very unreliable, but you can drive to specific spots in the development where reception is OK. Two property management companies operate in Yosemite West; Enchanted Yosemite and Scenic Wonders. Yosemite West is located just outside the west boundary of the park, but is accessible only from INSIDE the park eliminating the need to leave and re-enter the park each day.
In El Portal, (about 45 minutes to Yosemite Valley) outside the west gate of YNP, try Yosemite View Lodge or The Cedar Lodge. NOTE: The Yosemite View Lodge has WIFI at $10 a day extra, but has no cell phone reception. There is NO WIFI or cell phone reception at the Cedar Lodge, even though the website states that they have it.
In Fish Camp, (about an hour to Yosemite Valley) at the south gate, try the economical but comfortable White Chief Lodge or the expensive Tenaya Lodge. Both have WIFI but cell phone reception is spotty.
During winter workshops we hike no more than 200 yards to different shooting locations. During fall and sometimes in early spring we will go to Sentinel Dome which is a 1/2 mile hike uphill. Otherwise, we rarely hike more than 300 or 400 yards.
Yes! They are welcome to accompany us on all outings and for meals. The more the merrier! Oh, and at no additional charge. Non shooting guests are free!
During winter, you are required to carry chains. The highway patrol and park service law enforcement will enforce these requirements and you will be turned around if you do not have chains in your car. You could also be required to install chains before being allowed to proceed if its storming or roads are covered with snow. However, if you have 4-wheel-drive, chains are not required.
If you are driving a rental car try to get a 4-wheel-drive, otherwise you will be required to carry chains and install them if conditions warrant. There is usually people along the way who will install you chains for you for a nominal fee, usually around $30. This is money well spent! Any auto parts store will have chains, of which there are many along the way into the park.
We carpool or you can drive yourself, whichever you prefer. During winter workshops, you’ll benefit greatly and be safer with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The park service requires vehicles to carry chains at all times during winter.
The Park Services places a cap on class size of 14, so we will never exceed that figure. Realistically, we average around 8 to 10 per class. If we get to a class size of 14, folks who need help and have many questions will always get the most attention as is the case in any class. The one thing you will never have to worry about is getting enough attention. I’ve had students tell me “I’m good…” when asked if they need help or have a question. Some students are familiar with their equipment, and have a grasp of the fundamentals of technical theory of photography, etc. and usually do not have questions, freeing me up to focus on newbies!
We eat lunch and dinner at the Yosemite Lodge at the BaseCamp Eatery (formerly known as the Food Court). The Mountain Room is closed for the WuHan Virus. We can also get sandwiches at Degnan’s Deli in Yosemite Village. You are free to bring your own meals, as I do for at least lunch. You are on your own for breakfast. The condos have kitchenettes.
There is a well-stocked grocery store in Yosemite Valley, or if you want to shop before arriving, there are the large chains stores in Fresno and Oakhurst from the south. In Mariposa, there is one grocery store on the main road into the park.
I am at your disposal. Usually we do night shooting for one night. If the group as a whole wants to do night shooting then we’ll do it!
If you are driving to the park from home, then bring everything you have. Experience has shown that if you don’t bring it, you’ll need or want it.
If flying in, bring at least a 24-70mm f/2.8 and a 70-200mm f/2.8.
Most definitely! Again, if driving in bring the largest, heaviest tripod you have. If flying in, bring the largest, heaviest tripod you can handle on the plane.
We start on the first day and every day of the workshop at 10am at Yosemite Lodge near Yosemite Falls in Yosemite Valley. We go all day, stopping for lunch and dinner, concluding each day-including the last day-just after sunset.
For those of you staying in Yosemite West (recommended), we meet at 9:30am in the parking lot of the condos where we then proceed to Yosemite Lodge to join the others.
I encourage students to carpool to reduce the number of cars in one shooting location and to stay better organized.