The badlands of New Mexico are home to dark skies and incredible rock formations. From the towering Shiprock to the beautiful and sometimes odd Bisti Badlands, there is no shortage of great astro photography options in north western New Mexico. Summer is the best time to photograph the core of the Milky Way which is what this workshop is all about.
What To Expect
This small group photography workshop will spend three nights exploring and photographing some of the strangest and most beautiful night landscapes in the US. We'll base out of Farmington, New Mexico which is conveniently located between Shiprock and Bisti Badlands. Each day of the workshop we'll head out in the evening to capture sunset and then we'll wait for the sky to go dark. Once the sun has completely set we'll spend the rest of our time photographing the badlands under the night sky. We'll cover a variety of techniques including Milky Way pin points, star trails, light painting techniques, and compositing night and day shots together.
The Badlands are home to wild horses and there's a pretty good chance that we'll see some. It's not a bad idea to bring along a 100-400mm lens in case we spot horses before our sunset shoot.
The roads in the badlands are mostly single track dirt paths. While the road conditions are relatively mild, a high clearance vehicle is required to navigate the terrain. AWD or 4WD is usually not required when the roads are dry but it is recommended since it reduces the chance of getting stuck when turning around or in the event that we encounter wet roads. Please contact me about carpooling options if you do not want to rent an AWD or 4WD drive vehicle and I will do my best to pair you up with someone who has a capable vehicle.
Who This Workshop is For
The New Mexico Badlands Astro Photography workshop is for the adventurous photographer who wants to shoot locations and subjects that are off the beaten path and off the radar of the mainstream. Participants should be comfortable hiking, shooting in the dark and staying up past their bedtime. Some Lightroom and Photoshop experience will help you get the most out of this workshop since we will be covering basic and advanced editing techniques. If you'd like to brush up on your editing skills before or after the workshop you can contact me for private one on one post processing lessons.
Northwest New Mexico can get rather hot during the summer months with highs in the upper 80's to mid 90's. Luckily for us, we will not be outside during the hottest part of the day. We will only be in the sun for the very last portion of the day with most of our outside time being spent in the night. Night time lows are generally pretty comfortable with lows dropping into the low 50's or 60's.
Afternoon rainstorms are somewhat common in the summer months but they are usually somewhat brief. It's still a good idea to bring a rain jacket for you and your camera just in case. In the event of a very overcast forecast that is not conducive to astro photography we will shift our plans a little bit and focus more on sunrise and sunset shooting.
Most of our shooting locations will require a 1 to 2 mile hike each way on mostly flat but unmaintained lands. Once we get to our shooting locations the landscape will be a little more rugged and may require walking up and down some short slopes and on or around rocks. Hiking boots or shoes will be essential. I recommend waterproof boots in case we have to cross a muddy wash.
• Professional photographer & guide : You will be guided by a professional photographer who has a good understanding of night shooting and astro photography. I’ll be at your disposal for any and all questions regarding camera settings, composition, and more.
• Local Navajo guide for native lands
• 2 post processing sessions: I'll demonstrate various editing techniques using Lightroom Classic and Photoshop. During our post processing session you will learn how to easily create star trails in Photoshop, how to blend multiple light painted shots into one, how to composite a daytime and nighttime shot together and much more.
• Astro Photography cheat sheet and digital guide
• Snacks: What's photography without snacks? I'll have a variety of snacks to share while we are out in the field shooting.
• 15% off from Lensrentals.com
• 15% off from f-stop bags
What's Not Included
• Accommodations: Each participant is responsible for booking their own lodging.
• Transportation: Each participant will be responsible for their own transportation but carpooling is highly encouraged. A high clearance AWD of 4WD vehicle is recommend for this workshop. Contact me if you would like to inquire about carpooling.
• Meals: Meals are not included with this workshop.
• Airfare: You will be responsible for your own airfare. Albuquerque will be the closest major airport.
Sometimes life can get in the way of a good a thing. Hopefully that doesn’t happen during this workshop, but if it does the following cancelation policy applies.
• 120 days or more – Full refund minus a $200 cancelation fee
• 60 - 119 days – 50% refund
• 60 days or less – no refund
Should you have to cancel and I find a replacement for your space, I’ll refund your full payment minus the $200 cancelation fee.
Important Workshop Information
I highly recommend cancel for any reason trip insurance and refundable flights for this trip. If there are heavy rains the badlands roads can become impassable even with 4WD. If the forecasts calls for heavy rain, we may have to postpone the workshop to a different set of dates. While it's not likely that there will be enough rain to close all of the areas that we plan to visit, I want all participant to be aware that it could happen. If the workshop has be postponed and you cannot make the new dates, you will be entitled to a full refund.
While just about any camera can work for nighttime photography, some cameras are better suited for it than others. I recommend bringing a full frame camera because the larger sensor means that it can collect more light which equates to a cleaner image at high iso.
All participants in this workshop will be eligible for 15% off from Lenrentals.com. I'm more than happy to help guide you on gear rental or purchase options.