Utah Astrophotography Workshop - Arches & Canyonlands!
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2022 Utah astrophotography workshop

The Milky Way in Arches & Canyonlands National Parks

Join us for a Utah astrophotography workshop in Arches & Canyonlands National Parks where we’ll capture our Milky Way over some of the most spectacular nightscapes in the Utah High Desert. We are running this tour during the best time of year to photograph the Milky Way in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Utah astrophotography workshop

Overview

During this Utah astrophotography workshop, we will focus specifically on shooting nightscapes and the Milky Way over the most photogenic formations and landscapes of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. You’ll see everything from giant arches and Martian rock formations to enormous canyons and majestic landscapes. This is a high-desert area, located far and above other sources of light pollution, where we’ll enjoy ideal conditions for astrophotography.

We will help you capture the best possible images during this Milky Way astrophotography expedition to Arches & Canyonlands. You’ll learn the best techniques to shoot the Milky Way, from the basics to the most advanced techniques, and we will also do some post-processing sessions so you can bring your captured images to life.

While this workshop is primarily focused on astro shooting at night, we will also have time to capture the sunrise after our Milky Way sessions as well as sunsets and daytime images when the timeframe and conditions allow.

Utah astrophotography tour

UTAH ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY TOURS HIGHLIGHTS

  • Photo tour from Sept 25th– October 1st, 2022 (1 SPOT left!)
  • Group size: 10 participants + 2 instructors.
  • Main topics: Landscape astrophotography.
  • Main areas: Arches & Canyonlands National Parks. 
  • Best time of year to photograph the vertical Milky Way in Utah.
  • Dedicated post-processing sessions.
  • Accommodation included in Moab, close to the best locations.

2022 Utah astroPHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP ITINERARY

Our Utah astrophotography workshop itinerary is flexible, and it will be adjusted according to the weather conditions so you can make the most of this trip.

Our workshop will be at the best time of year to capture the vertical Milky Way over the High Desert landscapes of Utah, when our galaxy is visible after the sunset and blue hour. Nights are warm in September, so we will photograph every day the sunset, twilght, and our Milky Way as soon as it shines in the sky. 

We will also have the time to shoot in the morning, scout, and focus on post-processing sessions during the middle of the day when the light is harsh. 

DAY 1: Arches AstroPHOTOgraphy WORKSHOP 

Our Utah Milky Way photo tour begins at the Scenic View Inn & Suites in Moab at 2:00 PM. This hotel is situated in an ideal spot at one of the shortest drives from the main shooting locations. It offers a stunning view of the famous La Sal Mountains and will be our base camp during our stay in Utah.

After a meet and greet with the rest of the group and a welcome speech, we will prepare for our first night session at Corona Arch, one of the most impressive natural arches in the Utah desert. This location offers fantastic photo opportunities to capture the Milky Way from both sides of the arch, so we will focus on both perspectives. We will also practice taking some images with light painting since this is the only location where it’s allowed.

(*From 2020, Arches & Canyonlands National Parks no longer allow the use of light painting or low-level-lighting for shooting at night.)

Utah astrophotography workshop

DAY 2: Arches astroPHOTOgraphy WORKSHOP 

On the second day of our Utah astrophotography workshop, we will make our first visit to Arches National Park.  

We will photograph some of the most impressive locations in the park, focusing especially on scouting and finding the best compositions for our night shoots. Shooting locations will include some iconic landmarks like Turret Arch, The Windows, and Balanced Rock.

We will photograph the walls of the famous “Windows” arches that are painted red by the setting sun, and wait until the blue hour and darkness to shoot the Milky Way aligned inside the renowned Turret Arch.

 

DAY 3: Arches astroPHOTOgraphy WORKSHOP

The third day of our Arches astrophotography workshop will take us to other impressive locations in this national park.
 

We will start the day by shooting and scouting around Devils Garden, where you’ll see one of the most spectacular Martian-landscape formations in the park. After that, we will move to Skyline Arch and take a short hike around this popular landscape arch, the widest arch in the national park.

At night, we will focus on one of the highlights of the trip: photographing the Milky Way over Delicate Arch. This location requires some hiking to get to it, so we will plan accordingly so we are there at the right time. This arch is probably the most iconic formation in the entire state of Utah and features a perfect arch with the renowned La Sal Mountains in the background. If we have a productive shoot, we might stay and photograph this location until the Milky Way sets.

If you don’t want to take this hike, there is a plan B and one of our instructors will take you to a more accesible location to photograph the Milky Way in the park. 

DAY 4: DEAdhorse point PHOTography WORKSHOP

On the next afternoon of our Utah astro photo tour, we will have our first post-processing session, where we will focus on different techniques so you can make the most of the images you captured in the field.

It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner or an advanced photographer; we will design a post-processing plan for you so you can drastically improve your editing skills.

In the evening, we will set the laptops aside and catch the sunset from Devils Garden, where the sun beautifully illuminates the rock formations and the Utah mountains in the background.

At night, we will photograph the Milky Way in Deadhorse Point State Park. This location offers an impressive view of a deep canyon carved by the Colorado River.

If conditions are not ideal for astrophotography, we will photograph the sunrise at Deadhorse Point and some of the overlooks in Canyonlands National Park.

DAY 5: Canyonlands astroPHOTOgraphy WORKSHOP 

On the fifth day of the tour, we will start our Canyonlands photography workshop section. This national park offers some of the best dramatic views and overlooks of the Colorado and the Green Rivers as well as beautiful, dark, starry skies, which will be perfect for our night sessions. 

We will dedicate our first day here to photographing some of the most popular viewpoints in the area, like the Grand View in the “Island in the Sky” area or the Green River overlook

At night, we will return to shoot the Milky Way band over Mesa Arch. This is the most iconic arch in the park, but it’s also a very small location, so we will take advantage of our astro session to grab a good spot for our sunrise shoot, where we’ll see the sun’s rays illuminate the arch and the landscape.

 

 

DAY 6: Canyonlands astroPHOTOgraphy WORKSHOP

After some productive Milky Way sessions in the field, we will have a second post-processing session in the afternoon, where we’ll work with you on your images.

We will also have a group discussion about the night images captured by the group and provide some insights so you can keep practicing and improving your editing skills.

If conditions allow, we will have a final Milky Way photography session, either at the Green River overlook or at any of the previous locations if we missed them because of cloud cover.

 

que ver en utah mesa arch canyonlands

 

DAY 7: Utah astroPHOTOgraphy WORKSHOP

On the last day of our photography workshop, we will have a final morning session where we will photograph the sun illuminating either the Colorado River or Arches National Park depending on the previous night session.

After a breakfast in our hotel, we will conclude our Arches & Canyonlands  photography workshop.

PRICE: USD 3,590

Deposit: USD 1,000

A $1,000 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve your spot for this workshop. You can also pay in full at any time. The remaining balance is due on July 25th, 2022. If the remaining balance is not paid in full by the due date, you will lose your spot.

A 100% refund is guaranteed if we have to cancel the tour because of COVID-19.

WHAT DOES THE PRICE INCLUDE?

INCLUDED

  • Accommodation in shared double rooms with queen beds at the Scenic View Inn & Suites in Moab for 6 nights, including breakfast.
  • 7 days of photo guide services by professional astrophotographers.
  • Instruction in a small group of 10 participants with a 5:1 ratio (5 students per instructor).
  • Dedicated post-processing astrophotography sessions.
  • 100% refund if the workshop is cancelled because of COVID-19.

*BONUSES

  • Access to Dan Zafra’s full Capture the Milky Way Course (valued at $299) –
    includes a complete start-to-finish Milky Way post-processing tutorial of Delicate Arch.

NOT INCLUDED

  • Transportation (including flights) to Moab.
  • Transportation during the trip (we will arrange carpools when traveling to different locations).
  • Private room – Extra $699 (*Subject to availability)
  • Arches & Canyonlands National Parks’ entrance fees.
  • Meals except breakfast.
  • Health/travel insurance (We can help you purchase the best travel insurance according to your needs).
  • Personal expenses, tips, and any other service not mentioned in the “INCLUDED” section.

*Capture the Atlas operates under a CUA (Commercial Use Authorization) with the National Park Service to run photography workshops in the park premises. Under this permit, all instructors and participants don’t require any of the new timed entry tickets that are mandatory to access the park since 2022. 

Utah astrophotography workshop

What will I learn during this Utah photo workshop?

This workshop is mainly focused on night and Milky Way photography. However, we will also photograph landscapes during the blue and golden hours, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to learn about landscape astrophotography.

What you learn during the workshop will vary according to your goals and skills. Your instructor is a professional photographer with extensive experience who will help you take your photography to the next level.

Some of the photography basics you can learn during the workshop are:

  • Getting comfortable shooting different types of landscapes and photos in manual mode
  • Adjusting the best camera settings in each situation
  • Familiarizing yourself with the basics of night and Milky Way photography
  • Enhancing your compositions with the best techniques 
  • Designing your own shooting workflow to be more effective in the field 
  • Photographing daytime and night panoramas

Some of the advanced photography techniques you can learn during the workshop are:

  • Creating powerful compositions that tell a story and engage the viewer.
  • Building a connection between your photography and your vision.
  • Becoming a master of light: learn how to enhance it and keep it under control.
  • Advanced night & Milky Way photography techniques like stacking and panoramas.
  • Advanced bracketing and exposure blending to capture the best dynamic range.
  • Using wide-angle distortion and focal length blending to create powerful images.
  • Focus stacking to capture tack-sharp images with interesting foregrounds.
  • Advanced Milky Way shooting using a star-tracker

Some of the post-processing techniques that you can learn with are:

  • How to start using Lightroom and Photoshop (all the basics).
  • Preparing your images in Lightroom/Adobe Camera Raw to start on the right foot.
  • Stitching panoramas using different software like Lightroom, Photoshop, or PTGui Pro.
  • Stacking night images using Starry Landscape Stacker or Sequator.
  • Reducing the noise in your night images using Topaz Denoise AI.
  • All types of Blendings (exposure, focal length, focus, etc.).
  • Light shaping and Dodge & Burn in your landscape images.
  • Advanced Milky Way techniques like star reduction, structure, natural colors, etc.
*Note: As soon as you sign up for this workshop, you will have access to my full Capture the Milky Way course, which will give you the perfect editing knowledge base before you join this astrophotography workshop

Your instructors on this Utah Astrophoto Tour

Daniel Gomez will be the tour leader of this Utah workshop and he will make sure that you get the best photography results and experience out of this tour. He will help you with your photography, technique, composition, and post-processing for both day and night images.

Daniel has explored and led astrophotography workshops in Arches & Canyonlands National Parks in previous trips. He is very knowledgeable, not only about the most well-known locations but also about the best hidden gems where you most likely won’t see other people or photographers.

Daniel is based in Oregon and has been taking photos for the last 9 years. He’s an expert in the main subjects that you’ll be photographing on this trip, and he can also help you with other topics like Star trails and timelapse. He will be able to help you find great compositions and help you with your night photography from the basics to advanced techniques like star-tracking.

WHAT TO BRING TO an Utah astro photo tour

A complete list of everything that we recommend for this tour is sent to all participants upon sign-up. Below, you can find a summary of things you might need:

PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR
  • A mirrorless or DSLR camera.
  • A sturdy tripod and a remote shutter.
  • A wide-angle lens, such as 14-24 mm.
  • A medium zoom lens, such as 24-70 mm.
  • A telephoto lens, like a 70-200 mm lens.
  • A camera bag to transport all your equipment.
  • A headlamp for the night shoots.
  • Glow-in-the-dark tape for your tripod.
  • A laptop for the post-processing sessions

Some optional items if you are focused on advanced MW photography are:

  • A star-tracker.
  • A laser for doing the polar alignment.

*While zoom lenses are acceptable for this workshop, prime lenses are recommended for Milky Way photography. Some of the best lenses in this range are:

-20 mm f/1.8, 24 mm f/1.4, 28 mm f/1.4, 35 mm f/1.8, 40 mm f/1.4, 50 mm f/1.8

You can get them either from your camera brand or from third-party manufacturers like Rokinon or Sigma.

*This Utah astrophotography workshop focuses on Milky Way nightscapes and not on deep-sky imaging. However, you can bring a telephoto/telescope and take your own deep-sky photos if you like.

You may be interested in this guide, where you can dive deeper into photography equipment for traveling.

Photo Tour Arches NP

 

CLOTHING

Even though the sun makes temperatures very warm during the day, nights can be chilly on the Utah High Desert plateau, especially if there is wind.

For this reason, we recommend bringing the following clothing:

  • A system of layers to wear at night (base layer, windproof layer).
  • A good pair of breathable boots (to protect your feet and ankles while hiking over rocks and uneven terrain).
  • A light hat and gloves for the night photography sessions in case it gets cold.
DOCUMENTATION

If you are traveling from outside the US, you may need a specific travel visa or an electronic travel authorization (“ESTA”) depending on your country of origin. We can help you with this process.

WHAT EXPENSES SHOULD YOU CONSIDER FOR THIS UTAH PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP?

FLIGHTS

There are different airports within a relatively short drive from Moab. The closest airport is the Canyonlands Regional Airport, which is a 20-minute drive from Moab.

However, there aren’t many flights or rental car options there compared to other major airports, so the main options are Salt Lake City International Airport (3:30 approx. from Moab), Denver Int. Airport (5:30 approx. From Moab), and Las Vegas International Airport (6:45 approx. from Moab).

Airline ticket prices will depend on the airport you are flying from. We recommend reading this article if you want to find the best flights from your current location.

TRANSPORTATION

Transportation will not be included, and all the driving will be on paved, easy roads, so any type of vehicle is fine for this Utah workshop.

When traveling to different locations on the tour, we will try to carpool as often as possible. Some parking areas are small, and we would like to minimize our impact on the land and ecosystem as much as possible.

MEALS

Meals are not included, except for breakfast in our hotel.

Moab has grocery stores where you can buy food, drinks, and snacks. We recommend buying some groceries and snacks before the start of the tour, since our schedule will completely depend on the shooting conditions, and some days, we might not make it to any of the local Moab restaurants for lunch/dinner.

ENTRANCE FEE

The Southeast Utah park pass to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks passes cost $55 and is valid for a week. You can get your pass in person at the kiosk before entering the park.

If you plan to visit more national parks within the following year after the workshop, we recommend getting the “America the Beautiful” annual pass, which gives you unlimited access to all national parks and some state parks in the country for only $80. You can get it online here.  

WHAT MAKES THIS UTAH ASTROPHOTO TOUR UNIQUE?

Immersive

Our astrophotography workshops are completely centered on photography: finding the best moments to shoot, running dedicated post-processing sessions, and creating an intensive experience that is conducive to learning and taking the best Milky Way images.

intimate

Our workshops are limited to small groups with a ratio of no more than five students per instructor. This is also an important factor for providing the attentive instruction you need during the tour.

exclusive

You’ll learn how to make the most of your camera gear to capture Milky Way images as well as the most effective post-processing techniques to bring your images to life. The instruction and the setting in an exclusive group of astrophotographers make this workshop unique and distinct from standard night photography tours.

dedicated

We will discuss your goals before the tour so we can create a dedicated instruction plan for you. It doesn’t matter your age or skills; we will design your plan and provide you with materials before, during, and after the workshop so the learning process is not limited to just the tour.

proven

We have spent years designing national and international photo tours with successful results, helping photographers with their Milky Way & Northern Lights photography. Dan’s online courses have also helped more than 400 photographers over the last few years.

unforgettable

Beyond the photography, our photography workshops help build strong bonds that last forever. After our trip, you’ll feel like you have been with a group of friends rather than on a standard tour. We are thankful to have plenty of repeat clients who keep traveling and learning with us.

Frequent questions about our astro workshops

Whether you are experienced or just starting out in Milky Way photography, you are welcome, and I am convinced that you will progress quickly. Together, we will send you home with a thorough knowledge of many photography areas, from the basics to multiple advanced techniques.

Once you sign up for the workshop, we will discuss your skills and goals for this tour, and I’ll organize a teaching plan so you can make the most of this experience.

Generally, we won’t do any long or strenuous hikes, since most locations are a relatively short walk from the parking lot. Delicate Arch is the only exception. To reach Delicate, there’s a 3-mile hike with 630 ft elevation gain. We’ll most likely hike to this location at night, which can make the trail harder. There will be a plan B if you don’t want to take this hike. 

Also, 90% of the shoots will be done at sunrise and afyter sunset, so bear in mind that we will have a nocturnal schedule during the workshop and some days we will have to sacrifice some sleep. For this reason, we recommend having good energy levels and being in good physical shape to enjoy this experience.

There is no age limit. This trip is perfect for anyone over 18 years old who wants to photograph Utah with us.

You don’t need a star-tracker, but you can bring one to the workshop if you have a good foundation in Milky Way photography and you’d like to focus on some advanced shooting.

Since 2022, Arches National Park requires a timed entry ticket with a specific time slot in advance  to access the park. 

However, as holders of a commercial use authorization permit, you don’t need any timed ticket to access the park during the workshop. The only requirement will be having your National Park pass described above.  

The Utah High Desert is one of the most special places where I have photographed the Milky Way. There is something magical about being in a desert plateau away from light pollution and surrounded by a dark, starry sky with only the sound of coyotes howling in the distance.

In this vast area, you will find not only Martian landscapes and otherworldly arches, canyons, and rock formations, but also memories that will last a lifetime.

Let’s capture the Milky Way!  

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DAN ZAFRA

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