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Monument Valley - May 29-June 1, 2019

Night Sky • 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.

Taylor Photography is excited to be teaming up with Navajo guide and night photographer Quanah Parker for a fantastic adventure in iconic Monument Valley. Big thanks to Quanah for supplying many of the images on this page. Check out his website Quanah Parker Photography to view more of his work. 

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 quintessential symbol of the American West - Monument Valley. Monument Valley is the sacred heart of the Navajo Nation and we have hired a Navajo guide to comply with all regulations when visiting these sacred lands. Straddling the border of southeastern Utah and northern Arizona, Monument Valley's isolated rock formations are eroded remains of their Rocky Mountain ancestors, formed by sandstone deposits and geologic uplift and then shaped by wind & water. The surreal sandstone towers of Monument Valley provide what are arguably the most enduring and definitive images of the southwest US.

In late May the sun sets around 8:45PM. The Milky Way begins to rise around 10:30PM and appears as an arc in the sky. We'll be meeting up with our Navajo guide before the Milky Way rises and he will transport us to our night sky photography locations via company van/truck. We will be  photographing for 4 hours each night. Although this workshop is night sky specific, we will undoubtedly be visiting Monument Valley and some of the surrounding areas during the day and for sunset.

This is a comprehensive workshop that will consist of 3 nights and 2 days - approximately 12 hours of in the field photography and 10+ hours of classroom tutorials & processing time. Check out our Processing page for some examples of what we will be covering in class.

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Proposed Itinerary*:

May 29: Afternoon meet and greet, discuss camera settings and features of the night sky - travel & in the field photography 9PM - 2AM

May 30: Afternoon tour of Monument Valley - in the field photography 3PM - 1AM

May 31: 2PM - 6:30PM classroom instruction & image processing - travel & in the field photography 9PM - 2AM

June 1: 2PM - 6:30PM classroom instruction & image processing

*We will talk with all participants regarding itinerary changes depending on weather conditions & forecast

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 use LED panels strategically 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 Instruction: Our 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 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, transforming and blend modes in Photoshop. 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.

Home Base: Our home base for this workshop is the fantastic Desert Rose Inn & Cabins resort in Bluff, Utah 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 Monument Valley Photography Workshop in May 2019. You are of course free to stay anywhere in the area.

The drive from the Desert Rose to Monument Valley is about an hour. This drive is incredibly scenic and includes the famous "Forrest Gump Point" at mile marker 13. We chose to make the Desert Rose our home base for 2 main reasons: 1) the resort offers excellent, affordable rooms & a great restaurant and 2) accommodation in the center of Monument Valley is limited to Goulding’s Lodge and The View Hotel in the tribal park - both of these choices are expensive and they sell out months ahead of time (for example, The View Hotel is already completely booked for our workshop dates as of this writing in Sept 2018).

We have reserved the conference room at the Desert Rose for all our classroom and meeting needs. Lodging, transportation and meals are not included in the investment amount. We will be carpooling to The View Hotel where we will meet our Navajo guide, who will be transporting us to photography locations via company van/truck. 

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.

Physical Requirements: Boots or shoes with decent tread are necessary. Our Navajo guide will be transporting us to photography locations and we will have short hikes to specific spots. Be prepared for some uneven terrain that includes rocks, sand, cacti and some small elevation changes. This should not bother anyone who is in decent shape. Anyone who has balance issues should contact us before signing up. 

Availability: This workshop is limited to 8 participants

Investment: $2,350 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. The full balance is due 60 days before the workshop or your reservation will be subject to cancellation. Please contact us ASAP if issues arise.

*This amount includes a per person, per night fee for our Navajo guide - without which we could not legally photograph these sacred lands. If you have a friend or significant other who would like to attend the workshop but not participate as a photographer, 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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