Monument Valley Photo Workshop, April 2017

Carol Lewin - Workshop participant

Carol Lewin – Workshop participant, Mittens view at Monument Valley

Claret Cactus-Student Photo

Claret Cactus, Workshop Participant photo

Moqui dugway-Student Photo

Looking South from the Moqui Dugway, near Valley of the Gods – Workshop Participant photo

Monument Valley-Student Photo

Monument Valley Buttes and Mesas, from John Ford’s point. Workshop Participant photo.

Our Spring 2017 Monument Valley Workshop is just around the corner.  And we still have openings for a few more photographers.

Early April, 2017.  Participants can expect to explore and photograph at the following locations:

  1. Lower and Upper Butler Wash, outside of Bluff, Utah
  2. Twin Rocks, Bluff, Utah
  3. Valley of the Gods
  4. Monument Valley
  5. Mexican Hat
  6. San Juan River views
  7. Comb Ridge

We have some favorite locations to share with you. The desert wildflowers are in bloom by the end of April, so we’ll scout some compositions to teach you how to best capture the Claret Cactus, Yucca flowers and other wilds of the canyons of Southeast Utah.

Here’s a sampling of the subjects we’ll incorporate to teach you how to use your digital camera.  Most workshop participants find that they are very comfortable with their camera, and know all it’s features by the end of a Chase the Light Adventure.

  1. Grand Scenics
  2. Intimate moments in the landscape
  3. Working with clouds
  4. “No sky, NO sky.
  5. Night Photography
  6. Moonrise in Monument Valley
  7. Star trails in Monument Valley

Skills and Techniques

  • Aperture Priority
  • Shutter Priority
  • Composition
  • Balance
  • Focus priority
  • Depth of field
  • Graduated Neutral Density Filters (in the camera, and post-production)
  • Capturing density for post-production

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Monument Valley Photography Workshop • March 2017

Students take a break to pose for the camera at Monument Valley Photography Workshop, 2013

Students take a break to pose for the camera at Monument Valley Photography Workshop, 2013

2017 promises to be a great year for Canyon Country Photography Lessons.  We’ll be heading out to Utah for our 12th Annual Chase the Light, Monument Valley, Photography Adventure.   Learn to Photograph Grand and Intimate landscapes, Monument Valley, desert wildflowers, Anasazi ruins, at locations such as Valley of the Gods, Comb Ridge, Butler Wash and Mule Canyons.  We scout the weeks before the workshop to insure that we pick great locations for your lessons.

Meet us in Bluff, Utah or fly into Phoenix or  Durango La Plata County Airport.  All participants will receive a travel package upon registration and receipt of your deposit, complete with suggestions for gear, and additional information.  Early reservations help us to hold rooms for you at Gouldings Trading Post in Monument Valley and to confirm our stay in Bluff, Utah.  We can arrange for a full hook-up campsite in Bluff if you prefer.

Meet and Greet:  Let us know when you’re flying into Durango, we’ll pick you up at the airport so you can join us for a meet and greet at Chase the Light Studios, Durango.

Goosenecks of the San Juan River. At Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts through 28 February. ©James Parsons

Goosenecks of the San Juan River. At Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts through 28 February.
©James Parson

Valley of the Gods. At Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts through 28 February. ©James Parsons

Valley of the Gods. At Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts through 28 February. ©James Parson

Castle Rock, Valley of the Gods. At Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts through 28 February. ©James Parsons

Castle Rock, Valley of the Gods. At Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts through 28 February. ©James Parson

Participants will spend three nights in Bluff, Utah and Monument Valley, Arizona! Register NOW to guarantee a space in this workshop.  Space is limited!

Looking north from Valley of the Gods, the storm is beginning to form, at sunset ©Kit Frost

Learn how to improve your photographic skills, or to begin your journey in digital photography, all skill levels are welcome.   We will be based in Monument Valley, and Bluff, Utah on the Arizona/Utah borders.   We’ll enjoy the night sky with lessons in capturing subjects in the dark in the Valley of the Gods.  The new moon on April 28th gives us the luxury of the dark sky for some experimentation and dark sky lessons; star trails and static star images are so challenging and fun!  Learn time lapse sequencing too.

There are many accessible ruins in the Cedar Mesa area of Utah. But don’t ask, don’t tell please ©Kit Frost

In addition to learning how to use your digital camera, proper compositional skills, and to expose properly in-camera, we teach ISO, white balance and manual and auto focus and add a touch of “leave no trace” skills and respect for the Ancient Ones and Heritage sites.  Join us in 2014 for four days of devotion to your passion for Photography.

Kit Frost has been teaching this Utah canyon country adventure for more than 18 years and will take you to the right locations for each photography lesson.  Bring your enthusiasm, your favorite camera gear, and your partner if you’d like.

Tuition: $1599. Early Bird (before March 1) $1899. includes instructional fees, accommodations, lunch and beverages
Register early to hold your space in this sure to sell out workshop!  ONLY 3 spaces left!
$500. deposit per person.
Balance due 30 days prior to first day of workshop.

Suggested gear:

  • Your favorite Digital camera gear.  Or new gear and Kit will teach you how to use it.
  • Your lens kit: wide angle such as a 12-24 lens or 18-55 lens, telephoto such as 55-200, or 75-300, A fast lens like the 24mm or 35mm 1.8 is sweet for the night sky.
  • Tripod,  Kit will look at your compositions while your camera is mounted on your tripod.  This helps to improve your composition.
  • Plenty of CF or SD cards
  • Fully charged batteries each day.  And a spare.
  • Battery chargers
  • Laptop or iPad for review.
  • Click here to see a suggested gear list 

Suggested Reading List:
Land of Room Enough and Time Enough, Richard Klinck
Scenes of the Plateau Lands and How they came to be, Wm. Lee Stokes

Learn to Photograph at the Right Place at the Right Time

How to Recognize the “Right Place, at the Right Time”

When I approach an outdoor subject, I often take a few moments to ask myself these questions.

  • Is this the right time of day for this image?
  • Am I facing the subject from the right direction?
  • Do I have an interesting background?
  • Is the sky stunning? Boring Blue? Grey and Cloudy?

In addition to these basic questions about composition, light, time, viewpoint, I also respond to:

  • What camera lens should I be using?
  • Landscape or Portrait, Horizontal or Vertical camera position?
  • Do I need a tripod?

This past weekend, at the Bluff Balloon Festival, we had “boring blue skies”.  And since the photos were primarily about the color, the location, the sense of place, the blue skies were awesome.  Bluff is a town situated near the cliffs and “bluffs” of Comb Ridge, Monument Valley and Valley of the Gods. Bluff is a great place for a variety of subjects including Anasazi Petroglyphs, red rock spires and the annual Balloon Festival

Which image is the “Right moment to press the Shutter”?

A colorful hot air balloon floats about a red rock butte in Valley of the Gods, Utah

Which moment feels “right” to you?

Please add a comment on your choice.

Colorful Hot Air Balloon floats over a beautiful red rock spire in Valley of the Gods, Utah

Blue Sky, Red Rock, Colorful Balloon over the Butte in Valley of the Gods. ©Kit Frost

As a Hot Air Balloon approaches Red Rock in Utah, the sun casts a shadow on the cliff walls.

As this balloon was floating closer and closer to the Twin Rocks, I anticipated a cool photograph of the balloon and it’s shadow. ©Kit Frost

Photograph of the flame and partial balloon at an evening balloon glow.  Warm orange and red colors.

Sometimes just a small portion of a bigger composition is all that is needed. The balloon glow was so quick, about 5 seconds, that it was challenging to meter. I concentrated on a single balloon flame as the gas was ignited. ©Kit Frost

Sunstars and letting go of the “plan”.

As we were “chasing” balloons, in the Valley of the Gods, the sun rose, and although the “plan” was sunrise balloon launch, we grabbed our cameras, and set up photographs capturing the sun, as a sunstar.  The buttes, and spires in the distant landscape helped to create a “right place, right time” image.  The sun will fool your camera meter, making your image very dark, as the meter tries to create middle gray from a bright subject.  I suggest an overexposure of at least 1/3 value (+) to compensate.  But try +1/3 or +2/3 and see what you like.  Additionally, in order to get the sun to create the lines of a sunstar, I used f22, a small aperture.

Orange colored sunrise with the sunstar casting golden light on the spires of Utah

Making photographs of the rising sun can be challenging, but in this case, we placed the sun right on the edge of a mesa wall to create the lines of a sunstar. Don’t stare too long through your viewfinder either, as it’s harmful to your eyes. ©Kit Frost

In Adobe Lightroom, I warmed up the photo by changing the white balance.

For more images of Hot Air Balloons in the Valley of the Gods, visit my website at

Monument Valley Photo Workshop, Suggested Reading List

The location for our upcoming Photography Workshop, Monument Valley is world renowned as a location for filmmakers, photographers and many others.

Whether you intend to register for our Photography Workshop in Monument Valley or not, I hope you enjoy reading about the land, the people and the stories of the American West.  My first visit to the park was in 1985, I went horseback riding with friends.  I thought I was in a John Wayne movie.  It still remains like a trip back in time.  If you go, be sure to visit Gouldings Lodge and Trading Post, and John Ford’s point were a few Navajo folks like to pose for photographs, on horseback (yes, go ahead and pay them for their modeling).

The tribal park is on Navajo land, it is home to Navajos who love their privacy as well as those who will gladly take you on tour into the canyons and talk about the monuments, their history, and names. A brand new Hotel, called The View is now open at the entrance to the 17 mile drive through the park.  The images below were taken while traveling along the scenic drive.  You can pay your entrance fee and have a self-guided drive, or you can hire a Navajo guide and have access to more of the monuments, ruins, and petroglyphs.

Here are a few background books about the Valley and the Navajo people (Dineh)

Scenes of the Plateau Lands…Wm. Lee Stokes
Land of room enough and time enough…Richard E Klinck
The Book of the Navajo…Raymond Friday Locke
Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson…Hampton Sides
The American West…Dee Brown

Our April 2014 photo workshop to Monument Valley also includes a day at the Valley of the Gods (below).

Looking north from Valley of the Gods, the storm is beginning to form, at sunset ©Kit Frost

Looking north from Valley of the Gods, the storm is beginning to form, at sunset ©Kit Frost

Monument Valley008

These student photographs were taken while along the scenic drive in Monument Valley. I get a kick out of Navajo “kitsch”.

Monument Valley015

Geronimo was an Apache indian. But I find the “statement” here made by a Navajo tribal member living in Monument Valley interesting and photo worthy.  Documentary photography at Monument Valley.