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Night Photography Workshop in Grasslands National Park

This 4 day night photography workshop takes place in rugged Grasslands National Park during the peak of the 2020 milky way season. During this workshop, we’ll spend our time photographing the incredible night sky in one of Canada’s largest dark sky preserves. Besides that, you can count on some daytime photography in some of Saskatchewan’s most interesting geological landscape. 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. Also, the group size will be small so the instruction will be personalized to help you achieve your photographic goals. My sole goal is to move you towards fulfilling your creative vision for your photography.

Dates

June 12th – June 15th, 2020

Group Size

4 Participant Maximum

Investment

$875 CAD (approx. $660 USD)

+ 26.25 CAD processing fee (e-transfer to rscottaspinall.com can void this fee)

Difficulty

Easy/Intermediate (some hiking required*)

Check out more details below or reserve your spot here for this Night Photography Workshop in Grasslands National Park!

WHAT’S INCLUDED …

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.

There are a lot of benefits to a small group size. First, it will allow us to carpool together to each shooting location. Second, while on-site you will receive personalized instruction on maximizing each location’s potential. I’ve intentionally chosen dates where we have the opportunity to use moonlight to light our foreground. However, there will be ample time before moonlight to capture complete dark 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, compelling, emotional 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 12th. 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 rscottaspinall@gmail.com for payment. 

**If you wish to use your vehicle in the park you will be required to purchase a park pass.

WHAT YOU WILL LEARN …

Composition

Leave strict composition rules behind, focusing on combining elements of your scenes in a way that brings the viewer in.

Light

We will spend time discussing the different types of light and how they aid in composition.

The Night Sky

Understand its seasons, moon cycles, different objects and phenomenon, and Aurora Borealis.

The Technical

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.

Exposure

Learn to trust your histogram, and how to combat high dynamic range scenes during the day and overcome low-light challenges in complete darkness.

Focus

Understand where to focus in your scene and practice focus stacking to overcome limitations with most lenses. Master the ability to focus at night.

Astrophotography

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. 

Post Processing

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 Tools

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.

 

WHAT YOU WILL NEED …

Photography equipment

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.

Lenses

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.

Light

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. 

Proper Clothing

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. YOUR SAFETY IS MY PRIMARY CONCERN. Also, temperatures at night cool off to an average of 10C (50F) so I recommend layers to stay warm at night.  

Food and Drink

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. 

Other Tech

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

Transportation and all associated costs to and from Grasslands National Park, arriving before 2:00 PM on June 12th and leaving mid-afternoon on June 15th, is your responsibility. I will meet you in Val Marie, Saskatchewan on the 12th and lead you to our accommodations. 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!

Not convinced yet? Hear from just a handful of satisfied alumni by visiting the Workshop Page .

the small print
Physical Requirements
  • Most of the locations have parking close by. You can expect to hike a maximum of up to 5km one way on flat even terrain. However, most hikes are a 3-5km round trip.
Class Size
  • There is a minimum class size of 2. If we do not reach our class a minimum 14 days before the “Night Photography Workshop in Grasslands National Park” (henceforth called the “workshop”) date, I hold the option to cancel the workshop. In this case, a 100% refund of your payment will be issued in this scenario.
Weather
  • Ultimately, I have no control over the weather. After running night photography workshops for the past two years I have decided that a three-night workshop is best. This affords you a good opportunity to get out and photograph the stars at least once. However, I can’t guarantee we will have favourable conditions; we may encounter overcast conditions during your stay. But, I promise you will still come away with beautiful images, and the capabilities to capture the night sky.
Refunds
  • A 50% non-refundable deposit secures your spot. The remaining balance will need to be paid 60 days before the start date. If you cancel outside of 60 days from the workshop date you will receive a refund minus your deposit. If you cancel inside of 60 days from the workshop date you will receive a refund minus your deposit only if I can fill your spot. Any non-refunded amounts are transferable to another group or private workshop by Scott Aspinall.
  • There are no refunds for unforeseen weather events that take place during the workshop dates. This includes cloud cover, wildfire smoke, park closures due to unforeseen weather events, or other such events. If park closures or other such conditions arise we will make every effort to present you with a reasonable alternative. I am not responsible for reimbursement of travel, lodging (outside of what is included above), equipment rentals, or other such expenses. I recommend purchasing travel insurance to cover your non-refundable fees, travel, and other such expenses.
Other Requirements
  • You will receive the itinerary, Leave No Trace Principles, and liability waiver after I have received full payment (60 days prior). This is when you are considered confirmed. Leave No Trace Principles and liability waiver MUST be signed and submitted at least 48 hours before the workshop or you will forfeit your spot.
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