Dark Skies, Desert Beasts: A Night Photography Workshop in Borrego Springs, California - Atlas Obscura Trips

Dark Skies, Desert Beasts: A Night Photography Workshop in Borrego Springs, California

from $1,395 USD per person for 4 days, 3 nights
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  • 14 People Maximum
  • Easy Activity Level
  • Road Trip
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Trip Overview

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.

  • Expert instruction on how to focus, compose, and light paint
  • Daily lectures, post-processing, and image reviews
  • After-dark desert exploration


Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.
National Parks at Night
In Partnership with National Parks at Night

Additional Info

Arrival & Departure

You'll need your own means of transport for this workshop. We recommend that you arrive in the afternoon or evening on Monday to give yourself time to join Lance and Chris for dinner and settle in before the workshop begins on Tuesday at 10 a.m. As for the workshop's conclusion, you should plan to depart after dinner on Friday. If you'd prefer to drive out the next day, you can extend your reservation another night.

Activity Level & Daily Schedule

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.

  • Expert guidance and mentorship from two talented National Parks at Night photo instructors.
  • Daily lectures, image review sessions, photo instruction, and post-processing.
  • A daily buffet breakfast at the hotel, our final group dinner, as well as water and snacks throughout the workshop.
  • A studio tour by sculptor Ricardo Breceda.
  • Brand-new headlamps for your nightly photo sessions.
  • Transport to, from, and around Borrego Springs.
  • Accommodation (10% hotel discount code for Palm Canyon).
  • All lunches and three dinners.
  • Photography equipment and gear. (We'll send a list of what you'll need once you sign up!)
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
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Trip FAQs

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.

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Everything I hoped for and more; as was advertised and more. An excellent introduction to nighttime photography and image processing.
—Manny P. (May 2018)

Upcoming Departures

Booking and payment processing partners may vary with departure date.
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