Death Valley Small Scenes & Personal Expression Workshop with Sarah Marino
Join us in Death Valley for this unique opportunity to photograph only small scenes with our special guest Sarah Marino. The varied landscapes of Death Valley provide the perfect learning environment to find your vision and look at the landscape in a different way.
Note about COVID-19
We want to ensure you feel safe coming to our workshops above all else during these unprecedented times. We have implemented the following protocols to keep everyone safe and slow the spread of the virus. Our workshops will look a bit different until there is an effective vaccine or treatment, but we will still provide the same level of education and fun!
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A jewel of the Mojave Desert, Death Valley National Park offers up fascinating geology, surreal and otherworldly landscapes, and surprising biodiversity within an accessible, varied, and quite extensive landscape. The park’s topography, with narrow canyons, towering mountain ranges, surreal playas, and vast sand dunes, offers hours of changing light each day, which will provide our group with extended opportunities for photography.
This retreat-style workshop has been designed to allow time for exploring this dynamic landscape, engaging in the creative process, experimenting with new ideas and techniques, and creating photographs of nature’s small scenes. We will seek out intimate landscapes, telephoto landscapes, abstract renditions of natural subjects, portraits of plants and trees, and macro subjects. Your three instructors, David Kingham, Jennifer Renwick, and Sarah Marino, are partnering on this unique offering to guide you in creating a personally meaningful, creative portfolio of Death Valley’s inspiring landscapes. David, Jennifer, and Sarah all bring extensive experience exploring Death Valley and a deep love for the place that sets them apart from other photographers offering workshops in this area.
Although grand landscapes will not be our focus, we will take advantage of the soft light at the edges of the day along with changing (and harsher) light throughout the rest of the day to help expand your creative abilities and the group’s photographic opportunities. During our time in the field, we will share lessons on learning how to see smaller scenes in nature, composition, working with a broad range of lighting conditions, and overcoming technical challenges.
In addition to finding and photographing the best small scenes that Death Valley National Park has to offer, personal expression, exploring creativity, and experimentation will be top learning priorities for this workshop. The workshop will include extensive time in the field (two to three extended field sessions on each full day), guided lessons to extend your learning, time for personal exploration, and formal instruction on photo processing. We will also share many meals to allow time for discussion about all topics related to photography, travel, and the places we are visiting.
What is Included
What is Not Included
What you Will Learn
In the Field
- How to expand your visual exploration skills and improve your ability to see and photograph nature’s smaller scenes
- Approaches for enhancing your creativity and learning through experimentation
- How to read a scene to create compelling compositions using shapes, lines, visual mass, texture, and more
- How to utilize weather information to make location decisions
- How to photograph a wide variety of scenes under all different kinds of lighting conditions
- How to use apps to scout out your own locations and plan future photography outings
- How to use a broad range of lenses to photograph smaller scenes within nature
- How to use filters for creative effect, including polarizers and neutral density filters
- Depth of field and hyperfocal distance to help you create sharp photos
- Overcoming technical challenges specific to photographing small scenes, including achieving maximum sharpness using focus stacking
- Identifying the best light and how to expose correctly
Post Processing for Beginners
- Making dull RAW files pop in Lightroom using the tools in the Develop module
- How to keep your files organized
- Use of local adjustments for dodging & burning, and many more creative opportunities
- Using white balance to create mood in your images
- How to properly sharpen and reduce noise for maximum image quality
- Exposure blending using HDR for natural looking results
Post Processing for Advanced Users
- How to use processing techniques to develop a cohesive portfolio of work that aligns with your photographic style and creative vision
- Exposure blending using luminosity masks to create balanced, natural-looking images
- Focus stacking using Photoshop, Zerene Stacker, and Helicon Focus for maximum depth of field
- Creative burning and dodging techniques to bring focus to your subject
- Emphasizing drama and mood through processing choices (advanced color adjustments, light bleed, Orton effect, and other techniques)
- Using midtone contrast adjustments to make images pop off the screen
- Black and white processing using Photoshop
- Sharpening for web and print
Safe, Legal, Responsible.
We are proud members of Nature First Photography. This movement is dedicated to responsible nature photography. At its core are seven principles that we abide by and promote to our clients. We hope you will join the movement!
The Nature First Principles
- Prioritize the well-being of nature over photography.
- Educate yourself about the places you photograph.
- Reflect on the possible impact of your actions.
- Use discretion if sharing locations.
- Know and follow rules and regulations.
- Always follow Leave No Trace principles and strive to leave places better than you found them.
- Actively promote and educate others about these principles
Concerned about your safety.
We understand how important your safety is when we’re in remote locations. This is why David and Jennifer are both certified Wilderness First Responders, we are prepared for any situation large or small. We also carry satellite communication devices should we need rescue assistance in remote areas.
We always run our workshops on the up and up. For this workshop Exploring Exposure operates under a Commercial Use Authorization with the National Park Service. We are also an equal opportunity service provider.
Our goal for this workshop is to create an inspiring, supportive environment that will help participants create a personally meaningful portfolio of creative photographs, with a focus on nature’s smaller scenes. As noted in the workshop description, personal expression, exploring creativity, and experimentation will be top learning priorities for this workshop. Thus, our time in the field will include a lot of exploring, experimentation, guided learning, and time on your own. This workshop will be an intensive, rigorous learning experience. Our time in the field and in the classroom will help you take your photography to the next level – whatever that means for you.
Our passion is seeing you grow in your photographic journey during our time together. 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 on YOU. Regardless of where you are in your photography journey, we will provide individualized instruction based on your needs.
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.
This workshop is open to anyone with an interest in photographing nature’s small scenes. Although we can help you with improving your technical skills, the more creative aspects of photography will be the focus of this workshop. Thus, you will get the most from this workshop if you are comfortable with the technical basics of nature photography (how to operate your camera and use your lenses, exposure, focusing, and basic post-processing skills). Additionally, we will be photographing around sunrise and sunset but will not be photographing the sunrise or sunset over a grand landscape. You will get the most out of this workshop if you are excited about focusing on smaller scenes during our full time together.
This workshop will include a mix of easy roadside photography plus hiking to access photography locations. Most hiking will not include much elevation change but will include walking over uneven terrain (like in canyons without established trails) and across sand dunes, which can be physical exhausting despite the minimal elevation change. We may also make one or two short but steep hikes to access viewpoints. Good balance and the ability to carry your camera gear for hours at a time will also be necessary. The photography locations for this workshop are between -252 feet and 7,000 feet in elevation. Hiking will typically be limited to 1 to 2 miles at a time.
Are spouses/partners welcome?
Because this is a somewhat large group already partners would have to pay for another seat to attend the workshop.
Will I have cell signal during the Workshop?
Cell signal is extremely intermittent in most of the locations we will visit, you should not expect to be connected all the time, at certain locations you may be offline for long periods, enjoy the silence. There is cell service in Furnace Creek, but expect the data to be extremely slow and potentially unusable. The hotel has wifi which is also extremely slow.
Will the instructors take photos during the Workshop?
The instructors 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.
- 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.
Private Death Valley Workshops
If you are looking for a private guide to show you around Death Valley, look no further. We spend every winter in Death Valley and are constantly exploring the incredible landscape to find all it has to offer. We can be your private tour guide or we can turn your experience into a full workshop training you on composition, vision, post-processing with Lightroom and Photoshop, all without the group.