Keys to a successful photo workshop with the Desert Institute:


To ensure you’ll get the most out of most out of your workshop experience, here are a few key tips:

  • A camera that offers you manual control of shutter and aperture is ideal.  This gives you full creative control and provides a great platform for your instructor to teach by.
  • Stability is everything.  A strong and sturdy tripod goes a long way toward helping you achieve, sharp, consistent images.
  • Lens choices vary greatly between locations and workshops.  Usually for landscape photography, you want to bring lenses that cover a range of 16mm to 200mm.  A typical combination might look something like a 16-35mm, a 50mm prime and a 70-200mm.  There are single lenses that cover a range of 18-200mm (or greater), and these can be a great “walk-around” lens for a vacation, but for a workshop, I highly recommend bringing a variety of lenses to ensure the best-quality end result.
  • Extra memory and batteries are a must!  You want to take a lot of pictures during a workshop, and running out of memory or batteries, is a disaster.  I suggest one extra battery and a couple extra memory cards, 16 GB or greater.
  • A polarizer is a must-have filter for most landscape photography.  I also highly recommend a 3-stop, soft graduated neutral-density (ND) filter.
  • A shutter release cord or a wireless remote (with a good battery!) prevents slight vibrations and soft images you can get when directly firing the camera.
  • A good backpack is important to keep you gear padded and safe from the elements, especially during a “tumble” down the granite rocks of the park.
  • A headlamp is a valuable tool for finding your way down the path after sunset.  And, for finding you locations for night sky photography.  An optional red lamp will help to maintain your night sky vision.
  • Given the wide variety of locations and conditions, your best advice is to communicate with the instructor and do an equipment review before the workshop.
  • Know your camera and have your camera manual available.  Your instructor knows his or her camera and may not know your camera or how your menu works.  Review the manual settings of aperture, ISO, white balance, and shutter speed.
  • Ask lots of questions!  Your learning will be maximized if your instructors understand what you know, what you don’t know, what you want to know and what you expect from the workshop.  Don’t be shy.


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