Glenn Randall Photography

Extraordinary landscape photography from Colorado and the West

 

Logo for Glenn Randall Photography

Syllabus for Sunsets and Stars at Great Sand Dunes National Park: Capture to Print

 

Sponsored by:

Santa Fe Photographic Workshops

50 Mt. Carmel Road

Fatima Hall, Suite F2

Santa Fe, NM 87505

Phone: (505) 983-1400, ext. 111

Fax: (505) 989-8604

email: info@santafeworkshops.com

 

Dates

September 20-25, 2019

 

Location

 

Field sessions: Great Sand Dunes National Park, near Alamosa, Colorado

 

Classroom sessions while based in Alamosa: Holiday Inn Express, 3418 Mariposa St, Alamosa, CO 81101; (719) 589-4026. HolidayInnAlamosa

 

Editing/printing sessions: Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, 50 Mt. Carmel Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 87505

 

Workshop fee:

$1,575 (tentative)

 

Course level

This workshop is appropriate for low-intermediate to advanced-intermediate photographers. Enrollment is limited to 11 students. Instructor will have an assistant.

 

Course description

Come to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park in September 2019 to learn how to shoot, edit, and print spectacular images of the 14,000-foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range rising above the tallest sand dunes in North America. We’ll begin each field session by shooting the dunes lit by the late afternoon and sunset light streaming in over the San Luis Valley. Field sessions will continue after dark, when we’ll shoot the seemingly infinite stars of the Milky Way soaring over a surreal landscape in one of the best dark-sky locations in Colorado. We’ll spend mornings in the classroom, where I will cover essential information for both day and night photography, such as how to shoot in high-contrast light and how to use the Photographer’s Ephemeris and Sun Surveyor to plan shoots to be in the right place at the right time. I will also dive deeply into the best procedures for planning, shooting, and processing both single-frame and panoramic images of the Milky Way. After three days of work in Great Sand Dunes National Park, we’ll travel to Santa Fe (about three hours’ drive away) and spend the final two days editing and printing the best images in Santa Fe Photographic Workshops’ state-of-the-art digital lab. I will provide continual feedback on students’ images both in the field and in the digital darkroom. Join me for a thorough introduction to creating stunning daytime and nighttime photographs in one of the West's most beautiful national parks.

 

Physical fitness considerations

Please note that one of the locations where students will shoot the Milky Way is 0.6 miles from the parking lot. This hike is largely flat, but the route is sandy, the hike will take place at night, and the hike does involve a few short climbs up and down small sand dunes. A basic level of fitness and willingness to hike in the dark by headlamp is required. In addition, students will have the opportunity to hike in daylight to the summit of High Dune. This optional hike is about 1 ½ miles one-way and involves 700 feet of elevation gain in deep sand. There is no obligation to complete the hike, and there are many excellent photographic opportunities along the way.

 

About the Instructor

I have been a full-time photographer, writer, and instructor for 39 years. Over 1,800 of my photographs have been published, and I have sold over 10,000 prints. I am the author of The Art, Science, and Craft of Great Landscape Photography, published by Rocky Nook in May 2015. Farcountry Press published three books of my landscape photographs: Rocky Mountain National Park Impressions, Colorado Wild & Beautiful, and Sunrise from the Summit: First Light on Colorado’s Fourteeners. I am a contributing editor at Outdoor Photographer magazine. Rocky Nook  published my book Dusk to Dawn: A Guide to Landscape Photography at Night in spring 2018.

 

Tentative schedule (subject to change due to weather)

 

Friday, September 20, 2019

6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Welcome dinner at Bistro Rialto in Alamosa (cost included in workshop tuition).

 

Saturday, September 21, 2019

9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Introduction and overview of the course. Lecture: "The 12 Principles of Scouting."  Instructor will demonstrate the use of the Photographer's Ephemeris and Sun Surveyor, two inexpensive, easy-to-use computer programs that make it much easier to be in the right place at the right time. Lecture on planning and executing a Milky Way shoot and editing a single frame. Discussion of how to set up a Lightroom catalog dedicated to this workshop on an external hard drive.

12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch.

1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Composition lecture and discussion. Discussion of exposure, exposure meters, exposure danger zones, the four basic exposure strategies, and the universal exposure strategy. Basic settings for digital landscape photography (a quick refresher to make sure everyone is up to speed), plus discussion of depth of field and instructor's pre-shoot checklist. Planning the afternoon and evening shoot.

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Drive to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Students will shoot late afternoon and sunset light at Great Sand Dunes. Sunset is at 6:42 p.m.

7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Dinner picnic in the field. Students will buy dinner to-go at a local deli or grocery store during the lunch break. The food will be kept fresh in the workshop cooler.

7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Students will shoot the Milky Way until approximately 10 p.m. Astronomical dusk (when the night sky becomes as dark as it will get and the Milky Way becomes photogenic) is at 8:10 p.m.

10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Drive back to Alamosa.

 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Instructor slide show on light and how to control it. Instructor slide show on how our visual system processes high-contrast scenes and how to use that knowledge to create both daytime and nighttime images that appear to have a greater dynamic range than they actually do. Discussion of the new HDR capabilities in Lightroom CC. Demonstration of a simple procedure for compositing pairs of Milky Way images (one frame exposed for sky, one frame exposed for land) to create rich detail throughout the image. Students will have an opportunity to practice the procedure using sample images provided by the instructor.

12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Students will learn a sophisticated procedure for compositing pairs of Milky Way images. Students will have an opportunity to practice the procedure using sample images provided by the instructor.

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Drive to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Students will shoot late afternoon and sunset light at Great Sand Dunes. Sunset is at 6:41 p.m.

7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Dinner picnic in the field. Students will buy dinner to-go at a local deli or grocery store during the lunch break. The food will be kept fresh in the workshop cooler.

7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Students will shoot the Milky Way until approximately 10 p.m. Astronomical dusk (when the night sky becomes as dark as it will get and the Milky Way becomes photogenic) is at 8:09 p.m.

10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Drive back to Alamosa.

 

Monday, September 23, 2019

9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Discussion and demonstration of shooting single and multi-row panoramas of the Milky Way. Students will then continue editing their images.

12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch.

1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Students will continue editing their images.

3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Drive to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Students will shoot late afternoon and sunset light at Great Sand Dunes. Sunset is at 6:39 p.m.

7:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Dinner picnic in the field. Students will buy dinner to-go at a local deli or grocery store during the lunch break. The food will be kept fresh in the workshop cooler.

7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Students will shoot the Milky Way until approximately 10 p.m. Astronomical dusk (when the night sky becomes as dark as it will get and the Milky Way becomes photogenic) is at 8:07 p.m.

10:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. Drive back to Alamosa.

 

 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Drive to Santa Fe. The drive from Alamosa to Santa Fe takes approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes, plus stops.

11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The digital lab manager, his assistant, and I will teach students, one-on-one, how to preserve the develop settings and ratings they applied to their images in Alamosa when they make their images accessible for editing using the lab computers. However, no group instruction will occur until after lunch.

12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Students will be informed during the workshop whether lunch will be provided at the workshop or whether they will be on their own for lunch.

1:30 p.m.to 2:15 p.m. The digital lab manager or assistant lab manager will teach students how to set up the Epson printer dialog before making a print.

2:15 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. I will discuss final preparation of images before printing.

2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Students will continue editing their images and begin making prints with my assistance.

 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. Students will continue editing their images and making prints with my assistance.

12:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Students will finish editing and printing their best images from the week.

 

What to bring:

• Camera: This is a digital-only workshop. A camera that allows an ISO of 6400 or greater is ideal for shooting the Milky Way. Students who do not own such a camera should check with Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, which has a loaner program for various Nikon bodies and lenses. Camera bodies are also available to rent online at LensProToGo.com and LensRentals.com. All students should bring spare batteries, a battery charger, and the instruction manual.

• Lenses: Students will find a variety of focal lengths useful. Long lenses (up to 300mm, longer if you have it) work well at certain sunset locations. Bring the widest, fastest lens you own for shooting the Milky Way. A Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 or Nikon14-24mm f/2.8 is ideal. Students who lack a wide, fast lens should contact Santa Fe Photographic Workshops about its loaner program for Nikon gear. Such lenses are also available to rent online at LensProToGo.com and LensRentals.com.

• Tripod: bring the sturdiest tripod you own that you are willing to carry on a sandy but mostly level 1.2 mile round-trip hike. If you have a heavy tripod for shooting near the car and a lighter one for shooting while hiking, and your luggage space permits, bring both.

• Cable release: Always a good idea.

• Graduated neutral-density filters: If you already own graduated-neutral density filters, please bring them. If you don’t own them, please hold off on any possible purchase until after the workshop. You may find that the digital alternatives I’ll teach you have made such filters unnecessary.

• Polarizing filters: If possible, students should bring polarizing filters, particularly in sizes that fit their medium focal-length and telephoto lenses.

• Digital media: Plan on bringing more memory cards than you think you will need. You don’t want to be frantically scrolling through your last card looking for pictures to delete when the light is peaking!

• Laptop: highly recommended! Students will get the most out of the workshop if they bring a laptop so they can download their images and get a jump-start on editing them while we are still in Alamosa. Be sure your laptop is loaded with image-editing software. I will be demonstrating techniques using Adobe Lightroom Classic CC and Adobe Photoshop CC. If your laptop is loaded with these two programs you will be able to practice the procedures I teach using the sample images I will provide. Students should bring their laptops to class every day.

• External hard drive: highly recommended! It will greatly simplify the process of making your images accessible to the lab’s computers for editing and printing if you bring an external hard drive. I will provide detailed instructions on how to set up a dedicated Lightroom workshop catalog on the external drive before we go out to shoot for the first time.

• Compass: If you already own a baseplate-style compass, sometimes called a protractor-style compass, please bring it. (By compass, I mean a device for determining direction, not a device for drawing circles.) This style of compass has a rectangular base and a circular capsule containing the compass needle.

• Flashlight or headlamp: A light source of some kind is essential for night photography. I recommend a headlamp instead of a flashlight because it leaves your hands free to work. I recommend a headlamp with a red LED in addition to the standard white LED because it will help preserve your night vision.

• Appropriate clothing: The average high temperature in Great Sand Dunes National Park in late September is around 67 degrees F. The average low is 38 degrees F. We will primarily be shooting late in the afternoon and after sunset. The temperature will drop quickly as soon as the sun dips below the horizon, and it may be windy. Please bring layers of warm clothing, sturdy footwear, a water bottle, snacks, sunscreen, and a small daypack to carry it all.

• Trekking poles (highly recommended but not required). If you own trekking poles, you will find them useful for longer hikes in the dunes.

• Two large plastic garbage bags. You may find these useful to protect your camera bag from blowing sand or to kneel on if the sand is wet near Medano Creek.

 

All registration for this workshop is handled by Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Please call Santa Fe Photographic Workshops at 505 983-1400 to pre-register. Online registration will be available early in 2019.

 

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Glenn Randall Photography  |  2945 Colby Dr.  |  Boulder CO 80305-6303 | Office 303 499-3009  |  Mobile 720 320-7126

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