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.

COVID Vaccine or Negative Test Required (click to read more)

Our workshops are an intimate experience; we share classroom space, carpooling, group meals, and we like to be up close and personal in the field to give the best learning experience.

On that note, we want to ensure that everyone feels safe to relax and have a fun time above all else. None of us want the threat of COVID lingering in the back of our minds while trying to be creative and have a good time. Based on feedback from our participants and after consulting with other colleagues, we have come up with the following protocol going forward for our photography workshops:

 We will require one of the following to attend our workshops:

  • Proof of vaccine with the last dose at least 14 days before the workshop.
  • If you are unable to get a vaccine due to medical reasons you will be required to take a rapid test each day of the workshop and you will need to provide the tests.

We understand this is an ever-evolving situation, and we will follow the current CDC and local health department regulations and inform you before the workshop. David and Jennifer are vaccinated for your safety as well. Thank you for your understanding during these unprecedented times, as we want our workshops to be a fun and safe experience for everyone!

January 18 - 23, 2022

Availability: Sold Out - Get on the Waiting List

Please read this important information before signing up!

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Group Size



Initial Payment – $695

Fly To

Las Vegas

Fitness Level


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.


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!



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.


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.

Bob Feldman

What is Included

  • Three attentive instructors to ensure ample time for individualized attention
  • Small group size of ten
  • Water and snacks when in the field
  • Extended field sessions each day of the workshop (since the subjects we will be photographing can work in all kinds of light, most days will include extended morning and afternoon photography sessions with a break in between)
  • Mentoring on creativity, personal expression, composition, light, and technical decisions in the field
  • Guided exercises to expand your photography skills, creativity, and ability to see small scenes
  • Feedback on your photographs, including time for formal image critique
  • Processing instruction in Lightroom and Photoshop during scheduled sessions, with a focus on photo processing techniques for small scenes

What is Not Included

  • Transportation - 2 people can ride in our vehicle, others will carpool together. Most locations will be accessed from paved roads or easy gravel roads. If multiple members of the group have 4x4 vehicles, we may be able to access some more remote locations but a 4x4 vehicle is not required for the workshop.
  • Lodging – The workshop will be based out of Furnace Creek, which is the area of the park with the most visitor services. We have a block of rooms held for workshop participants at The Ranch at Furnace Creek. The Inn at Furnace Creek offers upscale lodging, as well. Death Valley National Park has three campgrounds in the Furnace Creek area (Furnace Creek, Texas Spring, and Sunset, the latter of which is best suited for RVs). Furnace Creek Campground accepts reservations, whereas Texas Spring and Sunset do not accept reservations.
  • Meals – Workshop participants will need to pay for their own meals during our time together. We will have two group dinners, one at the beginning and one at the end of the workshop (other dinners will be on your own). Depending on our schedule each day, we will also eat breakfast or lunch together as a group. The stores in Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells both offer snacks and grab-and-go foods like sandwiches. You should bring any other food that you want for the trip with you.

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

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!

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!


We always run our workshops on the up and up. For this workshop Exploring Exposure operates under a Special Use Permit on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, Gunnison, and San Juan National Forests. We are also an equal opportunity service provider.

Our Philosophy

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.

Photography Prerequisites

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.

  • Fitness Level

  • How to get there

  • FAQ

  • Cancellation Policy

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.


Please do not hesitate to send us any questions you may have, we would be happy to help.

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.