Atlas Obscura is joining forces with National Parks at Night to offer you a one-of-a-kind night photography workshop during the Milky Way's brightest season. Accompanied by two expert photography instructors, we’ll journey deep into the desert of Southern California to explore and photograph the Dark Sky Sculptural Oasis of Borrego Springs, one of 16 International Dark Sky Communities—a town with zero stoplights and where stargazing is practically a nightly ritual. Cameras in hand, we’ll explore the more than 130 towering desert sculptures surrounding the town, a number of which pay tribute to creatures that once roamed this same desert. The celestial core will break the horizon around 10:30 p.m. each night, with many of the spectacular sculptures aligning as perfect foreground subjects for the Milky Way. During the day we'll learn about light painting, night techniques, and post-processing. At night we’ll allow ourselves to be transported back in time—outfitted with 21st-century lenses—by the mesmerizing swath of light cast by the billions of stars in the Milky Way.
You'll need your own means of transport for this workshop. We recommend that you arrive in the afternoon or evening on Wednesday, May 1 to give yourself time to join Lance and Chris for dinner and settle in before the workshop begins on Thursday at 10 a.m. As for the workshop's conclusion, you should plan to depart after dinner on Sunday, May 5. If you'd prefer to drive out the next day, you can extend your reservation another night.
Keep in mind that this workshop is fairly active. You should feel comfortable remaining outside and on your feet for long periods of time, especially after dark. We will often be walking on desert sand, dirt paths, and other uneven ground.
Our group will be staying at the Palm Canyon Hotel and Resort in Borrego Springs. Members of our group will receive a 10 percent discount. In addition to hotel rooms, the property offers Airstream and vintage trailer rentals, as well as RV hookups and campsites, a pool, and a fitness room. Our daily meeting room is at the hotel.
Workshop participants must have at least basic photo skills, know their cameras well, and be comfortable shooting RAW in manual mode with a DSLR or high-end mirrorless camera. Night photography experience is not necessary, but even folks with extensive experience shooting at night will find this class challenging, stimulating, and inspiring.
You will need to bring a DSLR/mirrorless camera, a wide and fast lens, and a tripod. A full list of recommended gear will be provided once you sign up!
Borrego Springs in May is toasty during the day, with a high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so daytime hours will be spent largely in class, editing, resting, and swimming. At night, the temperature drops to 60 degrees, perfect for our desert outings.