Death Valley is one of the hottest, driest, and lowest National Parks in the United States. Even with this distinction, it is a landscape that encompasses many dynamic scenes. These qualities make it an endless world of opportunities for beautiful photographs. Evidence of Earth’s forces can be seen all around the park with the carved canyons, never-ending salt flats, mud cracks, sand dunes, mountain ranges, and rock formations. We will be visiting and photographing this park when more pleasant cooler temperatures are occurring. We will photograph and chase the light across this varied and textured landscape, while also heading out one night to photograph under the stars for some night photography. We will be photographing areas such as the Mesquite Dunes, Badwater Basin, and Zabriskie point, and other locations that have become our favorites over the years, which are lesser known. We will photograph larger scenes, and take time to catch the details in more intimate scenes. During the workshop, we will also have classroom time to teach photo processing techniques, and workflow to help your photos stand out! With over 3.4 million acres to explore, there is always something to photograph, and you will not be disappointed. Come photograph and explore this incredible landscape of many faces!
Death Valley Dec ’18
This was truly one of the best workshops I have attended. David and Jennifer are attentive, knowledgeable teachers, and two of the nicest people you will meet anywhere. I found the workshop to be an excellent mix of field time and classroom time, and I came away feeling more confident in my ability to take photos with strong compositions, and edit them properly afterward. I will happily take part in future workshops with them any time, any place!
I had some personal issues leading up to this workshop which threatened my ability to participate. Once I arrived in Death Valley all of that was put aside. I didn’t think I would be able to participate. I made the 6+ hour drive to Stovepipe Wells and didn’t regret having done so. David and Jennifer greeted me warmly. I immediately knew I was in my photography family – that is what it feels like to me, being in family with like minds and purposes. We all bring something different to the table but we are all at the same table, if that makes sense.
In the field, David and Jennifer both are appropriately attentive to each of the workshop participants. They answer all questions regardless of how basic it might seem to be (trust me, I have asked some really basic questions). You certainly need a good understanding of how to use your camera. They can help with finding features you may not be familiar with, but ultimately they want you to be the expert of your own gear.
David handles most of the classroom training. He teaches in a very accessible way and goes over difficult concepts until you truly get it. He makes his approaches to work available so that I can truly learn from his style of working with images.
In case you couldn’t tell, I am a big fan of David & Jennifer and Exploring Exposure. Their work is phenomenal. I would take a class again given the right circumstances. If you are on the fence, let me help you get off the fence. This was my second workshop and I would quickly add a third given the chance.
2018 Death Valley
This was my first photo workshop. I didn’t really have any expectations going in but when it was over, I was sad it was over. I had a wonderful time with the group. David and Jennifer are very knowledgeable and patient. The weather didn’t always cooperate but they were flexible in the scheduling and got us out to some really cool locations. The between shoot post-processing sessions were extremely educational. I finished the course a better photographer than when I began. I can’t recommend it enough.
Death Valley Workshop 2015
I cannot say enough good things about my experience in Death Valley with David shooting landscapes. From day one I was reminded that, in addition to all the technical details, it is really all about being at the right place at the right time. It was obvious to me that David had spent a great deal of time in the field researching location and timing. It paid off in a big way as our class was exposed to some really wonderful moments of place and light that bordered on magical. I also learned that getting to that magical moment isn’t always easy. It may require getting up at 3:00 in the morning, driving on dirt roads for an hour or more and setting up in the cold and dark, to be at that special place at sunrise. But the rewards are there and the experiences will remain with me for a lifetime.
Wonderfully done. David and Jennifer perfectly complement each other. They encouraged our creativity and provided new techniques. The workshop exposed me to wonderful locations I would not have found on my own. The other participants inspired me in new and exciting ways. Three cheers for David, Jennifer, Death Valley Natural History Association, and the other workshopers.
What set this experience apart from the other workshops I’ve taken was the very perceptive and individual attention the instructors gave to each of us. Whenever I needed advice or assistance or a word of support, someone appeared to offer just what the moment required. The Death Valley Small Scenes workshop delivered beyond what it promised. Jennifer, David, and Sarah made sure we had varied challenges and opportunities to grow in our vision and technique for creating intimate responses to a location that can be overwhelming. They missed no chance to help us achieve, uniquely, what we were trying to do. No doubt we all returned with some of our most meaningful images ever. We also returned with something inside that will lead us to create many, many more.
Great Teaching Environment for ALL Skill Levels
I took the Death Valley, Through Your Eye course in December 2018. It was my first photography class, and after this experience, I know it will not be my last. David and Jennifer took time to scout out great shoot sites so that the participants could get great photos. They were super keen to timing, and being there long before the golden hour, and a bit after so that everyone could get great shots. Their style is low key, not persnickety, and they are not asking for perfection. The best part was their ability to adapt to all skill levels and make it worthwhile. They definitely made me, a newbie, feel good about how I could approach a shot, and learn from my mistakes. The post processing presentations allowed a lot of time for questions, examples and time to dive into how to make it work. I feel so lucky to have picked this as my first class, and know that my work will greatly improve, especially my post processing work! I highly recommend David and Jennifer, and really look forward to taking another class with them in the future.
First class experience. David and Jennifer provided the exact right mix between support and freedom, instruction and relaxation. It’s hard to imagine a better workshop. I learned about the absolute critical importance of great light. And I realized more powerfully than ever before the importance of careful composition. I am now a confirmed tripod-using, exposing to the right, (for me, black and white) photographer. Be sure to go on a workshop with these gentle, knowledgeable people.
This workshop in Death Valley was simply amazing! David and Jennifer are the quintessential workshop leaders and had an exceptional agenda worked out for us. As they spend considerable time scouting out their locations in advance (sometimes living there for months), their knowledge about the best spots and times is unparalleled. They don’t’ take you where all the tourist and other photographers are either, so many times you have the place to yourselves. They are also able to pivot quickly to adjust the agenda if weather or other factors dictate. During down times, David and Jennifer had training and critique sessions in a local hotel board room. These were excellent and I learned many new techniques. The other photographers in the group were so friendly and we all had a great time. I can’t say enough good things about this workshop. I am still buzzing about it five days later. Looking forward to my next workshop with David and Jennifer!
I made a wise choice in joining an Exploring Exposure workshop as my first visit to Death Valley. It was obvious David and Jennifer had an in-depth knowledge of the park. Despite some areas of the park being closed during our workshop, I didn’t feel in any way we were being shortchanged. It was only at Zabriskie Point did we even see other photographers! David and Jennifer were always accessible for questions in the field, and David’s post-processing guidance every afternoon really helped me pull everything together.
I’ve just completed my first of hopefully many more photography workshops with Jennifer and David from Exploring Exposure. They have an intimate knowledge of Death Valley that they shared by taking us to locations which I’m sure that on my own I probably would have driven past, not realizing the possibilities for capturing the smaller details of the natural beauty contained there. Jennifer & David put the participants of their workshops as their primary focus, especially while out in the field. I appreciated their suggestions on composition, whether it was the grand landscape or the smaller scenes, and how best to capture those as the light changed during our sessions. Furthermore, the verbal cues to change in light while we were out in the field was super helpful because it is so easy to get engrossed in a subject and not realize that the light has changed, and therefore so must the approach to photographing that subject. By keeping the group numbers small, David & Jennifer were able to make themselves available to all of the participants equally, whether novices or photographer’s with more experience. Even when we were spread out over a large area, they each checked in frequently to see how we were doing, answer any questions, and offer further suggestions. I also felt that the post processing sessions and image critiques in the boardroom were incredibly beneficial. I picked up some new techniques for post processing and was grateful for David’s advice on how to bring out the best in my images taken during the workshop.
Death Valley 2015
This is the second workshop that I attend under David’s leadership and it was a fantastic experience. I highly recommend taking another class with David as an alum because the perspective is completely different. David’s went above and beyond his duties when he climbed down a steep hill in the dark to retrieve my Canon 70-200 2.8 IS Lens when it rolled down the hill. He retrieved the lens and lucky, it was not damaged. Thank you very much, David I am very grateful.
A workshop with David and Jennifer is like having a personal trainer for intense three-a-day workouts four days in a row. Wake up early for the sunrise photo, spend mid-morning through mid-afternoon learning the ins and outs of post-processing, then close the day with a sunset shoot. Just like a good trainer guides you through a personalized routine, David and Jennifer tailor their instruction to the individual. The beginner as well as the seasoned photographer can learn from this dynamic duo. Their knowledge of the landscape alone is worth the investment. Each shooting location was paired with forecasted weather conditions. Storm clouds or clear skies, dramatic light or flat, David and Jennifer guided us to just the right grand landscape and to the perfect small scene. And when the weather changed unexpectedly, they pivoted expertly. As a result, I captured more portfolio-worthy images in four days than I have in the last four years. To boot, David and Jennifer are personable. They were my teachers and my trainers, but they’ve also become my friends. I can’t wait to book another workshop!
This was my third workshop with David and Jennifer but my first time to Death Valley National Park. I have attended workshops by other photographers and I feel that you will not find a better environment for learning than David and Jennifer are able to create. They make every effort to accommodate a wide range of experience levels. If you need basic instruction or want space to create on your own they are very sensitive to those needs. I have not found a student on any of the workshops who did not have a very positive experience and a high opinion of their workshops. Along with being very accomplished professionals, David and Jennifer are both genuinely thoughtful, interesting and fun people to spend time with!
Private Death Valley Tour 2017
One of the things I admire about David so much is that his success does not go to his head. At no point is there ever a moment where you feel some elitist attitude. David would regularly walk around and see what my wife and I were up to, offer suggestions, and help us with any problems we were having. I always like to ask what other photographers might be thinking, or looking for, when they approach a scene so that I can learn to see things in multiple ways.
This was a great workshop. A few things that I really appreciated: David sent handouts ahead of time, this allowed me to look over the material and make a point to ask about things I did not understand. Sometimes during the presentation, the amount of information can become overwhelming to process. Both David and Jennifer were easy to approach and ask questions. Like many other reviewers have stated, they are there to help you. I liked that we got to do both, take photographs and edit. I learned quite a bit about Lightroom. The small group size was nice. One felt like, you got the one on one attention time to ask questions. Definitely recommend a workshop with Exploring Exposure.
I first signed up for a workshop with David & Jennifer in 2017. Various forces kept me from being able to attend. I registered at the last minute for this Death Valley experience. I am glad I did so. David and Jennifer know the park well as they know photography well. They set a welcoming tone from the outset. They are able to work with people from a variety of skill levels. You will not be disappointed. I am already registered for another workshop!
Death Valley Experience
|I have attended several workshops, and this one ranks at the very top for several reasons. David and Jennifer are awesome photographers, very passionate and helpful. They are always available to assist you in every aspect of your photography, on the field and in post. They went out of their way to change our schedule because of weather conditions, and that was truly appreciated by the entire group.|
What You Will Learn
In the Field
- How to read a scene to create compelling compositions using shapes, lines, visual mass, texture, and more
- Reading weather and lighting conditions to know when to go out on your own in the right light
- How to use apps to scout out your own locations and plan your next shoot
- When and how to use lenses to bring focus to your subject
- How and when to use a polarizer to make colors pop
- Depth of field and hyperfocal distance to help you create sharp photos
- Achieving maximum sharpness using focus stacking
- Creative use of ND Filters to create motion in clouds and water
- Creating panoramas without using expensive equipment
- How to take correct exposures for bright skies; to be later used for exposure blending
- Identifying the best light and how to expose correctly
Post Processing for Beginners
- Making dull RAW files pop in Lightroom and keeping files organized
- Use of local adjustments for dodging & burning, and many more creative opportunities
- Using white balance to create mood in your images
- Properly sharpen and reduce noise for maximum image quality
- Stitching panoramas easily in Lightroom
- Exposure blending using HDR for natural looking results
Post Processing for Advanced users
- Exposure blending using luminosity masks to create balanced, natural looking images
- Focus stacking using Photoshop and/or Zerene Stacker for maximum depth of field
- Blending different focal lengths to correct for wide angle diminishment
- Creative burning and dodging techniques to bring focus to your subject
- Using the Orton Effect to add glow to your highlights
- Creating drama with Light Bleed
- Using Midtone Contrast to make images pop off the screen
- Sharpening for web and print
We encourage you to find your unique style of creativity with focused training based on your style and skill level. You will experience a rigorous learning experience in the field and the classroom to take your photography to the next level.
Our passion is seeing you grow in your photographic journey. We put your interests ahead of our own. Early on in the workshop, we will not photograph at all. Our focus is your learning experience, and we will not run off to chase the light and leave you behind. As the workshop progresses, we will take a few photos in a limited manner. This is so you can see how we approach a scene, demonstrate techniques, and create comradery with the group. Our focus will always remain with YOU.
We understand everyone comes to workshops at different points in their photography journeys. We will be there to guide and help you, whether you are a beginner or advanced shooter. There is always something to learn about photography, and we will do our best to help you find your creative vision.
Above all, we want this to be a fun experience for you. With our small group size, we get to know our clients very well, and we feel like they are part of our extended family. We do this for the love of photography, and there is nothing that gives us greater joy than seeing our clients grow and find their artistic vision.
What is Included
What is Not Included
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All locations are selected based upon the best time of year to visit the area, whether that is to see the best wildflowers, fall colors, or dramatic weather. We have done the research and planning to give you the best possibility of walking away with an incredible photograph.
During our drives we will discuss weather, how to find dramatic light, planning, etc. This will be more than a photo tour, it will be a learning experience. Out in the field we will instruct you on the proper techniques to create sharp photos, balancing exposure, composition, focus stacking, how to incorporate movement, long exposures and more.
The workshops are limited to 6 participants or less to ensure you get the attention you deserve.
We will provide you with an itinerary, but know that landscape and night photography is all about flexibility, especially being flexible to changing weather conditions. You will learn how to read the weather and select the perfect time and location based upon this.
What about night photography? Most workshops will include at least one night of night photography unless noted otherwise. Again, this will be dependent on the weather, this is the advantage of doing both. If we have clear skies we can change our plans to shoot at night when clear skies are preferred.
The 5 day workshops will be focused on one area rather than quickly moving from one location to the next. We will visit many different locations in this focused area. To understand the weather patterns in an area, you must spend some time there.
Is transportation provided?
Yes! Many of the locations selected require a high clearance 4×4 to reach. All of the participants will ride in our 4×4 vehicles. You will all get to share the experience together without worrying about the logistics. You only need to get to the hotel via taxi, shuttle, or rental car, the rest is taken care of. You are welcome to drive your own vehicle if you prefer.
Is lodging provided?
Unless noted otherwise, no. We typically hold a block of rooms at a discounted rate for the group.
Are spouses/partners welcome?
Yes, but seating is limited. If they come out on location you will have to provide your own transportation, or pay the full price for another seat.
Are these workshops run on the up and up?
We work hard to ensure the workshops are run within all the requirements of the law. We are an authorized permittee with the National Park Service, Forest Service, BLM, etc. We also strive to to keep you safe in such remote locations, David is a certified Wilderness First Responder so you can feel safe no matter where we are.
Will I have cell signal during the Workshop?
Cell signal is extremely intermittent in most of the locations, you should not expect to be connected all the time, at certain locations you may be offline for long periods, enjoy the silence.
Will the instructors take photos during the Workshop?
Early on in the workshop we will not photograph at all, our focus is on you and your learning, we will not run off to make our own photographs. As the workshop progresses, we will take a few photos in a limited manner, this is so you can see how we approach a scene, create comradery with the group, and to show you the same type of images you will be taking for our post-processing session. Our focus will always remain with you.
Will weather cancel the Workshop?
Dramatic weather is when the best photographs are created! Unless there are very dangerous conditions the weather will not stop us, in fact it will encourage us! No rain checks will be given for any weather related circumstances.
What is the cancellation policy?
- If you cancel 90 days prior to the workshop we will refund your initial payment minus a $100 fee.
- 90 days before the start of the workshop, we will refund your initial payment only if we can fill your spot.
- The full balance is due 60 days before the workshop. There will be no refunds on the full amount owed. We will attempt to fill your spot, if filled there will be a $100 administrative fee charged and the rest of your payment will be refunded.
There are NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS POLICY, even for medical emergencies. All cancellation requests must be in writing and received either by US mail or E-mail. We encourage participants to purchase refundable airline tickets and trip cancellation insurance. We strongly recommend trip insurance to protect you in the event of an unexpected situation that prevents you from attending the workshop. We recommend Travelguard or World Nomads.
We reserve the right to cancel any workshop if the minimum student enrollment is not met. In the event we cancel a workshop, participants will be given the option to reschedule to a later date or receive a full refund. we are not, however, liable for expenses incurred such as airfare or accommodations, and for this reason we also recommend the purchase of trip insurance.
What to bring?
- Your DSLR, nothing specific is required, although we do have a list of recommended gear.
- Lenses – Extreme wide angle is recommended (16-35 range on full frame or 10-20 range on a cropped sensor), a mid range zoom, and a telephoto of at least 200mm. If the workshop includes night photography you will want to take a look at our list of recommended gear for night photography.
- Tripod – A sturdy tripod is necessary, David uses Feisol tripods, but also recommends Really Right Stuff, Induro, and Gitzo.
- Filters – A circular polarizer is the only requirement, but we recommend neutral density filters (10 or 6 stops).
- Misc. – Bring extra batteries and memory cards.
- Clothing – Temperatures before sunrise are the coldest of the day, bring layers of clothing to quickly change for the conditions. If the workshop involves night photography plan on bringing even more warm clothes.
- Food – Snacks will be provided out in the field, for other meals we will go to local restaurants together and enjoy the comradery of the group. If we have a long day in the field we will stop at a grocery store for everyone to pick up something.
We are proud members of the League of Landscape Photographers, which is a group of artists committed to behaving in an ethical manner wherever we are photographing, and encouraging others to behave as stewards of our environment. Our clients must abide by these ethics in our workshops.
Our Code of Ethics:
- I inform myself about all rules and regulations relating to photography when visiting a natural area or public attraction.
- I do not knowingly step onto private property without permission even if the property appears abandoned.
- I stay on designated paths and trails. If there is no trail, I follow proper etiquette by educating myself on the principles of Leave No Trace.
- I aim for authenticity by photographing plants and animals in their natural habitat engaging in their normal behaviors.
- I inform myself about the plants and animals I intend to photograph. I avoid photographing them if they exhibit distress signals, and during times of physical strain or breeding seasons. If my presence is causing stress, I leave the area immediately.
- I help to protect the environment by picking up trash I find when in the field.
- I work to improve my photographic skills by using all my tools when making a composition. I do not move objects, pull plants or otherwise ‘tidy’ a scene. I move my position or wait patiently rather than attempt to influence an animal’s behavior or posture.
- I refrain from baiting (including sound baiting), or placing attractants to entice wildlife or influence their behavior. Also, I remove all artificial attractants I find in wild places that were placed there by others.
- I treat wild animals living in an urban environment, such as songbirds, with the same respect that I accord to those living in the wild. I consider their safety and well being before putting out seed. If I do, I research the proper natural organic food and follow proper procedures to ensure the cleanliness of the feeder to minimize the risk of disease. I locate the feeder to avoid cover for predators as well as potential in-flight collisions with reflective house windows.
- I keep rare species safe and intact by not broadcasting the location of a fragile area, plant or animal. I remove GPS data from my images before sharing them with others.
- I treat all people with respect.
- I am patient and courteous with non-photographers visiting a scene. I am creative and can adjust my expectations of the images I planned to make. I am open to new ideas as they present themselves to me.
- I am aware of my position and how it may interfere with the ability of the photographers and non-photographers around me to enjoy a scene.
- If someone wanders into my scene, I am courteous and will wait for them to move. I will consider adjusting my own position, or kindly asking them to move when they are ready.
- If I see someone violating the Code of Ethics, I will consider talking with them about the possible effects of their behavior. I will only do so if I do not perceive any threat to my personal safety. As an alternative, and if their behavior is particularly egregious, I will consider documenting the situation and reporting them to the appropriate authorities.
- I adopt this Code of Ethics and strive to adhere to these important principles.
- I am an ambassador of ethical conduct in the industry through my own behavior and by sharing these principles with other photographers and the public.
- I know and respect my physical limitations and keep myself out of harm’s way by avoiding situations where my health and safety or the health and safety of others could be put at risk by my actions.
- I educate myself about the weather, terrain, culture and potential hazards before visiting a new area.
- If I am leading a photo group, whether commercially or not, I ensure that the group members are informed about the Code of Ethics, potential hazards and other safety concerns, and that the group size is appropriate given the sensitivity of the place we are visiting.
- I am always forthcoming about my post-processing and refrain from representing my photographs as something they are not.