Death Valley under the Stars:

Instructor: Michael Frye

April 17-20, 2023

Where does the workshop take place?

This workshop is based at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley National Park. Our field sessions will take place at various locations within Death Valley.

When does the workshop begin and end?

The workshop begins at noon on Monday, April 17th, and ends around midnight on Thursday, April 20th.


Participants must provide their own transportation to and from Death Valley. The nearest major airport is in Las Vegas, Nevada; it’s about 2 1/2 hours from Stovepipe Wells. The Bakersfield, California airport is about 3 1/2 hours, and the Ontario and Los Angeles airports a bit further. During the workshop we’ll carpool from our hotel to our field locations; we’ll discuss these arrangements at the introductory session.


Most newer cameras with APS-size or full-frame sensors will work for this class; Micro Four-Thirds cameras are not recommended, as they’re usually too noisy. For capturing pinpoint stars and the Milky Way you’ll need a relatively fast wide-angle lens (24mm or wider for full-frame sensors, 16mm or wider for APS-size sensors, with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or better), and a camera that can be pushed to 6400 ISO or higher. You can always rent a camera or lens for this workshop. A sturdy tripod is a must. A laptop is strongly recommended. We’ll send you a complete list of things to bring prior to the workshop


Nighttime photography is not for beginners. For this workshop you should have a solid understanding of exposure, histograms, depth of field, and the operation of your camera. Previous nightime photography experience is recommended.


We’ll be making two or three hikes into the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and navigating through the dunes after dark with headlamps. The total roundtrip distance for each of these dune trips will be around 3-4 miles, but hiking up and down over soft sand with heavy camera gear can be quite tiring. We may also hike down into Golden Canyon, which requires a steep climb out with about a 500-foot elevation gain – again carrying heavy camera equipment. So overall this is a fairly strenuous workshop. You’ll need to be in good physical condition, and be sure-footed and mobile enough to climb up and down steep slopes of loose sand, or descend a steep, loose, gravelly trail – and do so safely, without falling. If you have any questions about the hiking involved, please email Michael.


We’ll be out until midnight or later each night, plus we plan to pull one all-nighter in order to photograph the Milky Way core, and attempt to capture a panorama of the dunes. We’ll give you time to catch up on some sleep the next day, but be prepared for an irregular schedule, and less-than-normal sleep!


We’ve reserved a block of room at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley for this workshop. Lodging is not included in the workshop tuition.

COVID Considerations

We want to make this workshop as safe as possible for all participants. Since the COVID-19 pandemic situation is constantly evolving, our procedures and requirements may change as well. We will, of course, follow CDC guidelines, as well as state and local requirements. We may also institute additional measures to ensure everyone’s safety, including proof of vaccination and/or a negative COVID test, masks while indoors, avoiding carpools (meaning everyone will have to drive their own vehicle to field locations), and conducting classroom sessions via Zoom.


A $600 deposit reserves your space in the workshop. The balance is due 60 days before the workshop (don’t worry, we’ll remind you!).


We know you’ll enjoy this workshop and learn a great deal, but should you need to cancel for any reason we will refund your tuition in full up to 60 days prior to the start of the workshop. Should you need to cancel within 45 to 59 days we will refund your tuition less a $150.00 cancellation fee. Refunds are not available less than 45 days prior to the workshop unless we can fill the vacancy, in which case you’ll be charged a $150 cancellation fee. If you do need to cancel we ask that you let us know as soon as possible so we can alert people on the waiting list.

In the rare event that we need to cancel this workshop because of lack of enrollment or an unforeseen event you will receive a credit toward a future workshop. We recommend that you avoid purchasing non-refundable airline tickets, and consider getting trip cancellation insurance.

This workshop is full!
Please email us to sign up for the waiting list.