This night photography workshop takes place in rugged Grasslands National Park during the peak of the 2021 milky way season. During this 4 day workshop, we’ll spend our time photographing the incredible night sky and milky way in one of Canada’s largest dark sky preserves. You will be joining me, Scott Aspinall, to photograph some of the best night skies that Canada has to offer. I live near Grasslands National Park and, as a night photographer, have visited and photographed it dozens of times. For the past 3 years, I’ve taught an annual workshop in what also happens to be one of Saskatchewan’s most unique geological areas. With small group sizes, instruction in this workshop is personalized to help you achieve your photographic goals and fulfill your creative vision for your night photography.
June 11th – June 14th, 2021
4 Participant Maximum
$875 CAD (approx. $660 USD)
+ 26.25 CAD processing fee (e-transfer to rscottaspinall.com can void this fee)
Easy/Intermediate (some hiking required*)
This workshop is now SOLD OUT. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waiting list for this workshop or to be notified of my 2022 workshop schedule when it comes available.
This night photography workshop is designed to maximize the photographic potential of Grasslands National Park. We’ll stay together at The Crossing, nestled in the hills on the outskirts of Grasslands National Park. There is an opportunity here for single and double occupancy.* This gives us space to rest and recharge during the heat of the day while providing the perfect gateway to excellent night photography.
While on-site you will receive personalized instruction on maximizing each location’s potential. I’ve intentionally chosen dates where we have some opportunity to use moonlight to light our foreground. However, there will be ample time after moonset to capture complete dark night skies. Structured around peak wildflower season (if Mother Nature cooperates) we will hike on mostly maintained trails to photograph the best of the park.
Post-processing sessions will provide time to learn techniques that are vital to creating clean and emotionally compelling imagery. Combine that with a session of image critique and there is ample opportunity for growth by the end of this workshop. With instruction, accommodation, transportation to shooting locations, park passes**, commercial licenses and other fees included, this is an (almost) all-inclusive vacation! All you need to do is get yourself to Grasslands National Park sometime before 2 PM on June 11th. Food and drinks for yourself are on you while you’re here (that said, because we will be staying together with a full kitchen there is the opportunity to share meals). Any travel and/or medical insurance (highly recommended) and visa fees are up to you as well.
*The choice of single or double occupancy is first come, first served. If you wish to arrange alternate accommodations (there are camping options or alternate lodging called “Convent Country Inn” nearby) then $250 will be deducted from the fee above. If you want to proceed this way please arrange with me at email@example.com for payment.
**If you wish to use your vehicle in the park or explore on your own, you will be required to pay your own entry fee
Leave strict composition rules behind, focusing on combining elements of your scenes in a way that brings the viewer in.
We will spend time discussing the different types of light and how they aid in composition.
Understand its seasons, moon cycles, different objects and phenomenon, and Aurora Borealis.
How the pillars of the exposure triangle (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) work together. Learn how to use them to make creative choices and the considerations for each pillar. This understanding, combined with in field coaching, will help you to find the settings needed to capture the night sky.
Learn to trust your histogram, and how to combat high dynamic range scenes during the day and overcome low-light challenges in complete darkness.
Understand where to focus in your scene and practice focus stacking to overcome limitations with most lenses. Master the ability to focus at night.
We will discuss and/or practice many different approaches to photographing the night sky. We’ll cover singles, stacking, panoramas, telephoto or “deep space” photography, tracking, star trails, and different foreground approaches to achieve your creative vision. If you own a portable star tracker (ie. the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer) please bring it, we can spend some time optimizing your approach to tracking the night sky.
It is a high priority of the workshop but will be arranged around our field time. The majority of the processing time will take place on the final day of the workshop. During these hours you will learn important techniques that help you add emotion or mood to your photograph. You will learn about global vs. local adjustments in Photoshop and Lightroom; blending; various tools for masking; enhancing light; dodging and burning; focus stacking; stacking for noise reduction and so much more!
Planning is a big part of the night photography process. We will cover my favourite planning approaches and include a list of applications and programs to make your planning quick, easy, and effective.
You’ll need a DSLR or Mirrorless camera that can function in Manual Mode (M), charged camera batteries and your charger, memory cards (multiple), remote shutter release or intervalometer, and a sturdy tripod.
A wide-angle lens (11-35mm) with an aperture of at least f2.8 is recommended (the aperture is important for astrophotography). Bring along a telephoto lens (100mm+) for more intimate photos of the landscape and a mid-range as well (35-100mm). You can borrow lenses from your local camera store or www.lenslenders.ca if needed (please contact me for questions regarding your gear and what images you can expect to get with it). For reference, my bag consists of a 15-30mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8, and 70-200mm f2.8.
A headlamp that has a red light mode. Red light is a must for astrophotography. Other light ‘colour’ destroys night vision and will ruin the experience of other participants.
The middle of June can be quite warm on the prairies with daytime highs ranging from +15C (59F) to +30C (86F). We should beat storm season by a couple of weeks but could run into some isolated thunderstorms or rain during your stay. Because of this, a rain jacket is recommended. Should a storm watch come into effect for our area we will plan outings near parking to stay safe. If a storm warning is issued OR we hear thunder, we will seek shelter in our vehicles or remain in our accommodations (that said, some past groups wanted to learn the art of storm chasing when storms happened. As an experienced chaser, I’m happy to provide a fun experience with safety as the main priority. Every group is different though and chasing is optional). Also, temperatures at night cool off to an average of 10C (50F) so I recommend layers to stay warm at night.
Val Marie has a couple of restaurant options, and a small grocery store if you prefer not to bring food. We will be staying with a full kitchen so you will be able to cook while we are there. Mealtimes will revolve around our shooting schedule so don’t expect to maintain a “normal” eating schedule. Also, please bring snacks for the long nights as we will be spending a lot of time under the night sky. Bring a water bottle and whatever other drinks you may want, these will not be provided.
You will need a laptop, with a charger, for our post-processing session. I teach post-processing strictly in Lightroom and Photoshop so it is important to have a copy of each (Photoshop with Camera Raw as an alternative) installed on your laptop before arriving at Grasslands National Park. You can download a 7-day free trial of Photoshop here.
Transportation and all associated costs to and from Grasslands National Park, arriving before 2:00 PM on June 11th and leaving mid-afternoon on June 14th, is your responsibility. I will meet you in Val Marie, Saskatchewan on the 11th and lead you to our accommodations or we can alternatively meet at The Crossing (Google directions to there are accurate). If you are flying in, Regina International Airport is closest. There are currently no bus or shuttle services available in Saskatchewan and you will be required to rent a vehicle to get to Grasslands National Park.
See you there!