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

Just added: Location Photography Lessons

Hi Folks, The weather forecast for the weekend photo excursion to Bluff, Utah looks great, a mix of sun and clouds.

I’ve added three more locations to the photography lessons.

Moqui Dugway is an awesome drive up from the Valley of the Gods to Cedar Mesa.  With big views of the San Juan River Canyon and Monument Valley too

We will head out to Muley Point by driving up the Moqui Dugway on Saturday afternoon, the weather forecast is for clouds!  Yeah, No sky, no sky.  But with SKY< add sky.  I’ll be teaching the following hints for grand landscape:

  • Pay attention to your grand composition, watch for centering your “horizon line”
  • Create drama in the big scene by focusing on near, middle and far in the frame.
  • Actual focus point is important, choose a deep depth of field (f16-22) and focus about 1/3 of the way into your composition.
  • Use a graduated ND filter or underexpose the lower part of the frame to hold detail in clouds.
Cumulous Clouds, rain hitting the ground, deep San Juan River Canyon, and Monument Valley in the Distant landscape.

Passing rainstorm visibly hitting the ground, deep San Juan River Canyon, and Monument Valley in the Distant landscape. Just one of the amazing views from Muley Point, looking west. By NOT centering the storm, the viewer is led through the photo. ©Kit Frost

Kokopelli and other ancient puebloan (Anasazi) figures carved into canyon walls

Kokopelli and other ancient puebloan (Anasazi) figures carved into canyon walls. Photo courtesy of BLM, Monticello, Utah

Image showing the winding road of the Moqui Dugway in Utah with Mesas and Buttes in the Background

A favorite location, near Valley of the Gods and Monument Valley too.

Balloon Festival Photography Lessons, Bluff Utah

A last minute adventure this past weekend to the Bluff Balloon Festival proved easy.  The Desert Rose Inn in Bluff had a few cancellations and I grabbed a room.  Very nice accommodations.  I usually stay at the Recapture Lodge in Bluff, but Jim and Luanne took the month of January off this year and closed the Lodge.  The Desert Rose was new (about 15 years old) and although I had to air out my linens from the strong scent of cleaner, I was comfortable. In the past, Zazi, my lab, would travel with me. Since she died I have explored some places where dogs are not allowed.  National Park trails, motels with NO PETs, etc.

Arizona Strip Workshop-11

I left Durango around 11am and arrived in Bluff for some late afternoon photography near Twin Rocks and spent a few hours along Comb Ridge, photographing sunset light hitting the walls of the Ridge.  The Bluff Balloon Festival’s after dark GLOW was scheduled for later so I  left the Comb in time to enjoy Saturday night in downtown Bluff. .  And I wasn’t disappointed in the glow.  Although difficult to photograph, the light glowing from the balloons was fun.  The pilots took turns lighting up their tethered balloons with the help of a count down.  So photography, although limited was enjoyable.  I did occasionally run and warm up in the car, as the temps were tipping 5 degrees. I planned to be up at sunrise to drive out to Valley of the Gods for the early launch so I hit the Desert Rose shortly after a few grab shots of the balloons.  The Bluff festival is small and there were about 10 balloons at the glow.  A big change for those of you who have witnessed the nearby Albuquerque Balloon Festival.

The morning launch was after sunrise in the Valley of the Gods, about 20 miles west of Bluff.  I love the Valley of the Gods, often camp there and the drive through the Comb Ridge is always a treat.  For photographing the balloons against the red rock formations in Valley of the Gods, I thought the wide angle lens would be the ticket.  My favorite lens is my Nikon 16-85 mounted on either a D300 or D5100 body.  But I found that in order to really accentuate the balloons it was best to photograph with the Nikon 55-300 lens.  The compression that long telephotos achieve was just the ticket for adding impact to the photos.

While waiting for the balloons to launch, I picked a location that would have a sweet rock formation too. ©Kit Frost

While waiting for the balloons to launch, I picked a location that would have a sweet rock formation too. I enjoy the sound of the fans filling up the balloons with air, followed by the sound of the bursts of gas heating up the interior, then the passengers load up and we have liftoff. ©Kit Frost

Photographing the balloons without a sense of place doesn't really work for me. ©Kit Frost

Photographing the balloons without a sense of place doesn’t really work for me. ©Kit Frost

Full compression of the 55-300 lens.  The background sure appears closer and the composition is fun too. ©Kit Frost

Full compression of the 55-300 lens. The background appears closer and by isolating the subjects against a shady part of the far wall, the basket stands out.  Compare this to a balloon and basket against blue sky. ©Kit Frost

Valley of Gods Balloons-5

You can see the wind blowing the balloon to the left.  Shortly after making this photo, all the balloons were tethered to wait own the wind.  ©Kit Frost

You can see the wind blowing the balloon to the left. Shortly after making this photo, all the balloons were tethered to wait out the wind. And many pilots landed and packed up to leave. The color of the basket is close to the color of the red rock, so not much separation of tones in the image.  But I waited for just the moment when the balloon on the right was between two buttes to press the shutter. ©Kit Frost

By using the Nikon 55-300 lens I was able to create frames that compressed the background buttes and spires.  The balloons, then appear closer to the mesa. ©Kit Frost

By using the Nikon 55-300 lens I was able to create frames that compressed the background buttes and spires. The balloons, then appear closer to the mesa. When working with pairs of balloons I had to photograph quickly.  It was a windy morning so they flew high above the spires in a few moments.

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.