Night Sky Utah - VotGs May 17-20 - miketaylorphoto
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Night Sky Utah - May 17-20, 2018

Valley of the Gods - 4 Day Workshop

Please read our Mission Statement for info regarding Mike's teaching style.

Visit the General Overview & Itinerary Info page for more information about gear specifics, clothing, weather, etc.

While no knowledge of night photography techniques is required for this workshop, please understand this is not a Photo 101 class - you should have a decent working knowledge of your camera gear and how the Exposure Triangle (aperture, shutter speed & ISO) works. Please contact us with any questions or concerns BEFORE signing up for this workshop. Thanks.

This workshop has been planned around the New Moon cycle to maximize the visibility of the Milky Way and other features of the night sky. Join us for four days of night sky shooting & image processing in the gorgeous sandstone valley of red-rock formations called Valley of the Gods. This geologic masterpiece of southwestern Utah is located less than an hour from the iconic but more crowded Monument Valley between the tiny towns of Bluff and Mexican Hat. Valley of the Gods features a 17-mile dirt road that winds through stunning Cedar Mesa sandstone formations nicknamed by the locals as Rooster Butte, Setting Hen Butte, and Balanced Rock/Lady in a Tub. Valley of the Gods has very little light pollution and is one of our favorite places to view and capture the night sky.

You know you're in truly dark skies when you can see the Dark Horse section of the Milky Way with your naked eyes. Nearby attractions and photographic opportunities are plentiful in this area including Mexican Hat Rock and Alhambra Rock, Goosenecks State Park, Moki Dugway, Muley Point, Recapture Pocket, Monument Valley, Hovenweep National Monument and the House on Fire Ruin in the South Fork of Mule Canyon are all located nearby.

In mid-May the Milky Way begins to rise around 11PM and appears as an arc in the sky. We will be set up & shooting before then and for 4+ hours each night. Classroom time will begin at 2PM each day and end around 6:30PM for a long dinner break before we head out to shoot the night sky. You will have a few hours to relax, explore, shoot sunset if you choose, etc.

This is a comprehensive workshop with an emphasis on post-processing that will consist of 3 nights and 4 days - approximately 12 hours of in the field photography and over 15 hours of classroom tutorials & processing time. Check out our Processing page for some examples of what we will be covering in class.

In The Field Photography: We will be covering the entire skill set of shooting at night including the techniques involved in taking very long exposures for foregrounds to blend with sky shots and how to actively & statically use lighting to illuminate landscape features. We will also be covering the process of shooting horizontal & vertical panoramas as time permits. Mike and Sonia will help each participant with composition, lighting, troubleshooting, etc.

Classroom InstructionOur classroom time will mainly consist of processing tutorials and techniques via Lightroom & Photoshop and some of our favorite plug-ins to create remarkable images. Bring your laptop with Lightroom and Photoshop installed to learn techniques for processing in the digital darkroom. We will cover Mike's entire digital darkroom workflow from RAW file to finished image - from the basics of adjusting highlights & shadows, white & black levels, contrast, clarity, noise reduction, color balance, sharpening, lens corrections, graduated & radial filters, etc. to the more advanced techniques involved in layering, masking, and transforming. We will also go through detailed instructions regarding the capturing & processing of images featuring exposure blending, horizontal & vertical panoramas and star trails images as time allows. Mike will work with each participant on their images as we progress. Check out our Processing page for examples. The planning and scouting of night sky shoots, including the apps that are instrumental for reconnaissance, will be covered as well.


May 17: Late afternoon meet and greet, discuss camera settings and features of the night sky - in the field photography 10:30PM - 2:30AM

May 18: 2PM - 6:30PM classroom instruction & image processing - in the field photography 10:30PM - 2:30AM

May 19: 2PM - 6:30PM classroom instruction & image processing - in the field photography 10:30PM - 2:30AM

May 20: 2PM - 6:30PM classroom instruction & image processing

Home Base: Our home base is the fantastic Desert Rose Inn & Cabins resort in Bluff where we have reserved a block of rooms at a reduced rate. To reserve your room, call 888-475-7673 and tell them you are with the Mike Taylor Photography Workshop in May 2018. You are of course free to stay anywhere in the Bluff/Mexican Hat area. Please keep in mind that May is a busy time in this area of Utah and it is not uncommon for ALL the local hotels and campgrounds to be sold out months ahead of time.

Lodging, transportation and meals are not included in the investment amount. We will be carpooling to the photography locations. For our classroom sessions we have reserved a conference room at the Desert Rose.

More specific information regarding meet up time & location and a PDF covering the essentials of night photography will be sent out to participants via email well before the workshop date. All participants will receive a hard copy of the PDF handout to go over during our meet-and-greet session.

Availability: This workshop is limited to 6 participants.

Physical Requirements: Most of the areas where we will be photographing are short hikes that are within sight of the parking areas. We have tentative plans for a couple of areas that require longer hikes to get to some spots but nothing that should bother anyone who is in decent shape. Just be prepared for some uneven terrain that includes rocks, sand, cacti and some elevation changes. Anyone who has balance issues should contact us before signing up.

Investment: $1799 per participant - Alumni discount of 20% if you've taken a previous workshop with Taylor Photography. A non-refundable 50% deposit is required to reserve a spot or you may pay in full. Due to the logistics and planning of this workshop the full balance is due before February 1, 2017 or your reservation will be subject to cancellation. Please contact us ASAP if issues arise.

If you have a friend or significant other who would like to attend the workshop but not participate, they will still need to register as a participant by paying 50% of the investment amount and sign the required waiver & consent form before we head out into the field. It is important that we have an accurate headcount for each workshop.

If you have any hesitation about signing up, check out the Testimonials page where clients have shared their experiences.

Payment: Use the Paypal buttons below to pay the full amount, a 50% deposit or the remaining balance.


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