2019 is here and BIG announcements are in the air! Starting this year, I will be hosting photography workshops where I will be leading groups into amazing areas where all kinds of photography can be done. I feel confident that I have the know-how and the ability to teach groups, and even one-on-one sessions, all about the fundamentals of photography and provide people with the opportunities to photograph some awesome places. I mainly identify, and have the most fun, as a landscape photographer, so going forward, my workshops will be landscape photography oriented and will focus on the things you can do either in planning, or behind the camera, to take the best photos you can in any given situation.
So what am I talking about?
I want to teach you how to be the best photographer you can be. I want to teach you how to use your camera on manual mode, and teach you what weather patterns you need to be aware of for amazing sunsets and moody atmospheres. I want to teach you how to find dark sky areas and identify key features in the night sky. I want to teach you the ins and outs of landscape and night sky photography and show you what to do to capture landscape scenes in the day and night. There is so much to learn about landscape and night sky photography and I have knowledge and experience that I want to pass on to anyone who wants to come along with us.
The First Workshop: When, What, & Where
May 31st through June 3rd is going to be my first major workshop to kick off this new venture, and you'll want to consider coming along with us. I say "us" because I'm actually a co-host for this workshop as Ezra Coe from Coeffects Photography will be hosting this workshop alongside me. Ezra is a phenomenal photographer who's done some incredible work with portraiture and double exposures blending landscapes and portraits in captivating ways. I'm excited to be working with Ezra in bringing this workshop to life.
In Michigan's upper peninsula, about 45 minutes drive east of the Mackinac Bridge sits a really nice campground called DeTour State Forest Campground that happens to be placed under very dark skies at night. DeTour village resides just five miles further East, but has very little impact on the night sky as far as light pollution is concerned.
Here, we can expect long stretches of beaches, woodland with blooming flowers, and super dark night skies full of stars and the milky way to photograph. I will be teaching participants the kinds of settings they need to use in-camera, some tips for composition, tips for shooting with filters on your lenses, and even tips for helpful apps that I use to plan photography trips. This is a totally rustic area and when I was there last year in early June, I was the only person staying on the grounds out of 21 campsites, which gave me a great opportunity to walk around at night without worrying about bothering other campers or having my images accidentally capture someones flashlight. Fingers crossed for similar conditions.
This campground provides an absolutely pristine place to photograph the night sky in all it's glory. DeTour State Forest Campground has 21 campsites; some that are large enough for RVs, but most are intended for tent camping and with this workshop, that's the plan. Three nights of tent camping, just mere steps from the beach on Lake Huron, and we will be photographing the newly bloomed flowers (I noticed patches of trillium last June), the sunsets and sunrises, and if we get lucky with clear nights with little or no cloud cover, the amazing core of the milky way galaxy will be present for many hours in the nights.
I personally have taken trips here a couple times now and am planning this workshop based on my first trip there last June when I photographed the Milky Way over Lake Huron, and believe me when I say how incredible that experience was for stargazing and photography. Below is my favorite image from that trip and if you sign up for this workshop and come along with us, I will be showing you how you can take images like this and more!
Are you on board? Here's a detailed rundown of what you can expect.
This is a camping trip, so you'll want to treat it like one. you will need to bring your own food. You will need to bring a tent, and everything you need to take care of yourself for tent camping over a three night period. These campsites do have established fire rings, so we will be able to gather firewood - or buy bundles from various nearby sellers. You'll want to bring food that you can keep in a cooler to be made over fire. You'll also want to bring layers of clothes because even June can come with some chilly nights. The last thing you want is to be chilled to the bone at night and be forced back to camp because you didn't bring enough layers to put on. We're able to park our cars right at the sites - no hiking with tons of camping gear, so pack more than you think you need. Extra blankets, extra drinking water, toiletries, etc. You won't regret being safe rather than sorry.
For photography, here's what you're going to need:
- Camera (and all it's bits and pieces). Any camera will do, but there are certain types of cameras that will give cleaner, more appealing image files for shooting at night. an APS-C sensor size camera, such as those like a Nikon D3200, or a Canon Rebel T5, or a Sony a6000 will do just fine. If you have a full frame sensor camera, like a Nikon D750, or a Canon 5D Mark III, or a Sony a7, you'll find you have an easier time capturing clean images of the night sky with less noise from shooting in a low light scenario. Be prepared for many hours of shooting. Bring a few memory cards, a couple 32gb cards should do just fine. Bring a few batteries - this is important. Since we can park right at camp, charging batteries via car adapters is a solution for those with that option, but for those who don't have that option, you're going to want to bring, basically, all the camera batteries you can. I recommend at least 4 batteries for your camera. Long exposures at night are going to require more battery power from your camera than it normally would so your batteries are going to drain faster. I might go through a full battery or two in one night of very active shooting.
- Tripod. A tripod is going to be absolutely necessary for shooting the night sky. The key ingredient to night sky photography is using long shutter speeds (multiple seconds of exposing for one image) and to do this without distracting motion blur, you'll need to be able to place your camera on a tripod and know you'll be able to get sharp images. A tripod is going to be useful in other scenarios such as sunrises and sunsets as well. Before the sun comes up, you may still need seconds long exposures for a photograph and a tripod is going to be important to getting it done.
- Wide Angle Lens. A lens that pulls in a wide field of view is going to be important for a lot of scenarios in landscape photography, but for night sky photography, it's especially important. A wide field of view allows for longer exposures before the stars appear to be moving in your image. If you have an APS-C sensor camera, the kit lens (18-55mm) is just fine to use as 18mm is going to be wide enough for us to work with. For full frame users, a 24mm, even some 30mm and 50mm lenses can be used to get some night sky photos (wide apertures like f/1.8 and f/1.4 make things easier), but if you have a nice wide angle lens, like a Rokinon 14mm f/2.8, or something similar, you'll definitely want to bring that.
Now here's some items I recommend you bring to make your photography experience a little easier.
- Remote shutter release
- Water proof boots/shoes
- bug spray (mosquitoes were horrendous in June)
- Hand warmers
- flashlight or Headlamp (a headlamp with a red-light setting is great)
- Coffee (and a way to make it)
I'll take this moment to mention that you may realize that shooting sunsets, and then moving on to shoot night skies, and then shooting the sunrise just a few hours later leaves only small sections of sleep to be had between sessions. For you coffee and tea drinkers, bring your caffeine and make sure you bring the tools you need to make it because we're all going to feel the lack of sleep if the photography gets really good.
Extra Note: DeTour Village is very small. If you think you can run into town to find a certain something you may have left at home, think again. There's really no major stores in town, so don't expect to find much if you drive in hoping to buy certain items pertaining to photography. There are a couple small markets where some food items can be bought and there are a couple rustic restrooms within walking distance of any site.
Extra Note: Cell service is spotty, but I was able to get messages and calls through on most occasions. Don't expect perfect cell service, but on AT&T service, I personally didn't experience any major issues contacting people anywhere on the grounds.
Wrapping Up: What's the Price and How do I sign up?
If you navigate to my Book Online tab on my site, you'll find a new offered service titled "Workshops" and you'll see one listed that you can click on to to view a quick description of and then at the bottom, you'll find a button that says "Book Now" where you can actually sign up for this workshop right on my website. The cost of this workshop is just $200 per person ($50 initial deposit). This non-refundable $50 will hold your place, but the remaining $150 must be paid 30 days prior to the workshop start date to attend. Only twelve spots, claim yours now! This Workshop begins when everyone arrives on the afternoon of May 31st and ends after the sunrise of June 3rd. You must be able to drive, or get a ride with someone, to and from the location. Most workshops that last over the course of multiple days would cost you hundreds, if not thousands more, but this is an introductory rate, so you lucky few will get this awesome experience at a great low rate. I'm able to charge so little because cost is so low. I will be paying the $15 per night site fee, where other workshops might require hotel stays and restaurant visits. A rustic camping experience is the perfect way to keep cost down for everyone.
I'm sincerely excited to provide this opportunity to those who are most interested. My dream is to be able to do this many times a year, exploring new locations, and offering more and more on each trip. I'd love to see you there, so be sure to make your way back to the Book Online tab to check it out or just use the link below!