Death Valley Photography Workshop

City Area Date Instructor Price (Member) Price (Non-Member)
Death Valley 17-NOV-2011 Michael A. Mariant $1145 $1175 Sold out

Discuss this workshop

Join us for an unbelievable trip to one of North America's most impressive locations.

Death Valley is regarded by some as desolate and empty. But the desert lovers know that the beauty of the park lies not on the paved road but in abundance away from the tourist spots. Death Vally might to some be an appropriate name for what they see; but there is so much more. Framed by the Armagosa and Paniment ranges, the valley harbors a delicate and fragile ecosystem that changes spectacularly in front of your eyes from day to day. Here, timing is everything. We will see breathtaking cliffs inside box canyons, remote ghost town dwellings, salt flats and bizarre formations, the infamous 'Sliding Rocks' of The Racetrack, and towering sand dunes that are constantly evolving, never photographed the same twice.

Capture the vibrancy of Death Valley during shooting sessions throughout the day interspersed with extensive specialized instruction in landscape photography. This workshop focuses not only on the 'where' to take the pictures, but also on the 'how' to take pictures, incorporating photographic education throughout the workshop at each location, building on the previous locations techniques and lessons to culminate in a comprehensive lesson in composition, modified exposure, light controls, Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS), and High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography to name just a few.

This truly is a collaboration of extensive, comprehensive landscape photography education coupled with a dynamic location.


Day 1 - We begin mid-day (1:00p) following lunch with a workshop orientation at the Furnace Creek Ranch, detailing the workshop schedule and shooting locations, a discussion on survival in the desert (water, weather and common sense), a brief history and understanding of what is Death Valley, and a review on shooting techniques/concerns in the desert. We then depart our lodging accommodations via carpool up to Dante's View, over 5,000 feet above the valley floor to begin our photography and lessons, starting with composition and the layering. After Dante's View, we head down for a late afternoon trip through Golden Canyon for continued exercises in layering but adding modified exposure to the lesson plan while documenting the vibrant colors in the warm afternoon light. We conclude the day under the towering Panamint Range to photograph the surreal salt flats and jagged weathered salt forms of the Devils Golfcourse.

Day 2 - The day starts with a pre-dawn trek via carpool out to the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells for sunrise on the unmarred and wind-sculpted dunes. The first of two trips to the Sand Dunes, we work in-depth on the modified exposures and landscape composition. We will travel outside the park to the ghost town of Rhyolite for a lesson in Nikon's CLS and utilizing our Speedlight flash units for supplemental, modified remote lighting. We will then head back into the park via Titus Canyon, a large drainage that the continually shrinks in width as canyon walls rise until it culminates into a slot canyon exit, providing several opportunities to begin application of the previous two-day's lessons as well as learn the techniques of High Dynamic Range photography. We will then head back to Furnace Creek and beyond to capture sunset at the dry lake bed at Badwater (the lowest elevation in the U.S. at -282 below sea level).

Day 3 - The longest day of the workshop, both in shooting and driving time. The morning will start by capturing sunrise at Zabriski Point, further application of the layering, composition and modified exposure techniques. We then begin our carpool trek up to Ubehebe Crater before heading back down to The Racetrack for late afternoon and sunset photographs of the large playa, the Granstand outcropping and, most importantly, the mysterious Sliding Rocks and their weathered tracks in the playa.

Day 4 - Our final day begins with another sunrise trip to the sand dunes followed with a short walk to a Death Valley treasure: Mosaic Canyon. The workshop concludes after Mosaic Canyon and a farewell lunch.

  • You will learn

    • Landscape photography in the desert
    • Evaluative composition
    • Previsualization of final image from exposure
    • through post-production to presentation
    • Alternative digital processes/approaches
  • What to bring

  • Required

    • Water bottles, at least two of at least 32oz capacity. (Not bottled water but bottles that can be filled with water, such as Nalgene.)
    • Sturdy hiking boots, light-weight long-sleeved shirts, light-weight pants,hat (ideally a wide-brimmed, no visors or ballcaps), rain or all-weather jacket. (Prepare for cool nights and warm/hot days. Layered clothing is ideal.)
    • Camera equipment should include the full range of lens from ultra-wide to zoom, macro lens, filters (graduated neutral density, IR, as a starting point), sturdy tripod and cable release. Usually our shooting locations are far from our venue, so spare memory cards and batteries are a must.
  • Optional

    • GPS unit
    • Laptop computer/download device or hard drive for downloading cards/editing images. (Please note this workshop will be an intensive shooting workshop with little time spent indoors at the venue. Bringing the laptop into the field while shooting is highly discouraged due to the extreme low humidity, dry air and dusty conditions resulting in the potential static discharges on the computers circuitry.)
  • What is provided

    • Guidance by our professional photography instructor
    • Training materials from the workshop
    • Amazing photo opportunities
    • The workshop pricing includes 3 nights of lodging, the training and resources, but does not include food. You will not need to book a room. We will be carpooling to our shooting locations each day. The airport of arrival & departure should be McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas; driving time from Las Vegas to Stovepipe Wells Village is 2.5 hours.
    • McCarran airport hosts nearly all rental car companies. It is recommended to rent a vehicle with a high ground clearance. (Leave the Kia at the airport.) A 4WD drive is not necessary but certainly helpful. (Note: Being Las Vegas, the most popular and most numerous 4WD rental vehicle is a Hummer.)
    • Warning about Rental Vehicles: Most vehicle rental agreements restrict vehicles to paved roads. Check your contract and be aware that the rental company can charge you for damage to the vehicle outside of the contract agreement specifications. Be sure that your rental vehicle has a good spare tire, that the tire is accessible and not ¬≥locked¬≤ into a keyed holder, and that the tools to change the tire, including jacks and wrenches, are in the vehicle and accessible. Driving a sedan or similar low-profile vehicle on the dirt roads in Death Valley National Park can cause damage to the undercarriage of the vehicle.
    • The cancellation fee for this workshop is $95 USD
  • Venue Information

      A venue for this workshop has yet not been locked down.


Don't wait for another chance to photograph Death Valley with a working professional photographer in a small group of 10 like-minded individuals!


Following Death Valley Photography Workshop workshops are organized in Death Valley:

Date Instructor Price (Member) Price (Non-Member)
13-NOV-2008 Michael A. Mariant $895 $925 Sold out
12-NOV-2009 Michael A. Mariant $1245 $1275 Sold out
17-NOV-2011 Michael A. Mariant $1145 $1175 Sold out

Other workshops in Death Valley:

Topic Date Instructor Price (Member) Price (Non-Member)
Death Valley in the Spring 24-MAR-2010 Michael A. Mariant $1199 $1229 Sold out
Death Valley in the Spring 24-MAR-2010 Michael A. Mariant $1199 $1229 Sold out
Death Valley in the Spring 24-MAR-2011 Michael A. Mariant $1199 $1229 Sold out

Member prices are only applicable to Nikonians Silver, Gold and Platinum Members. Non-members can register as Nikonians members here. Nikonians Basic members can upgrade the membership level here. Membership payments help sustain the growth of the Nikonians community and its services such as the Nikonians Academy.