VotGs & Recapture Pocket - April 20-22 2020 - miketaylorphoto
Somniloquy IV

Valley of the Gods / Recapture Pocket - April 20-22 2020

Day & Night Sky • 3 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 three days of night sky shooting & image processing in the Bluff, Utah area where we will visit some fantastic local spots for night sky photography: Recapture Pocket and Valley of the Gods. Recapture Pocket is a rarely photographed area of desert badlands that consists of crazy rock formations and hoodoos of all shapes and sizes. Valley of the Gods is a gorgeous sandstone valley of red-rock formations that is typically referred to as a smaller version of the well known Monument Valley. 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.

Both Recapture Pocket and Valley of the Gods have little light pollution and are a couple of our favorite places to view and capture the night sky. Nearby attractions and photographic opportunities are plentiful in this area and include Mexican Hat Rock and Alhambra Rock, Goosenecks State Park, the Moki Dugway, Muley Point, the Seventeen Room Ruin, Twin Rocks and Monument Valley.

In mid April the sun sets at 8PM. The Milky Way begins to rise just after 1AM and appears as an arc in the sky. We will be photographing for 3-4 hours each night. We will also be visiting our night shooting locations during the day and for sunset shooting.

This workshop coincides with the peak of the Lyrids meteor shower.

This workshop has an emphasis on in the field shooting and chasing the best light during the day, exploring some great locations for night photography, and 4-5 hours of classroom tutorials & processing time. Check out our Processing page for some examples of what we will be covering in class.

Proposed Itinerary:*

April 20: Late afternoon meet and greet, discuss camera settings, etc - in the field photography 6PM - 9PM & 12:30AM-3AM

April 21: In the field photography 6PM - 9PM & 12:30AM-3AM

April 22: 2PM - 6:30PM classroom instruction & image processing - group dinner

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

We always suggest that participants try to arrive the day before a workshop begins and stay a day after the workshop ends to remain flexible with changing weather conditions - as we check local forecasts, sometimes it becomes inevitable that we will have better weather conditions just before or just after the scheduled workshop dates, in which case we will take advantage of the forecast and go shoot on those dates.


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 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 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.

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 Valleys of Bluff Photography Workshop in May 2019. You are of course free to stay anywhere in the area. 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 photography locations.

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. 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 6 participants

Investment: $1,600 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.

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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VOTG & Recapture Pocket - April 20-22 2020
ALUMNI VOTG & Recapture Pocket - April 20-22 2020
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