The Badlands of New Mexico
Meander through the endless hoodoos, desert spires, and unimaginable rock formations in the Badlands of New Mexico – an alien world that was once a coastal swamp of an inland sea where dinosaurs roamed!
If you’re a hiker, photographer, or nature lover, the Badlands of New Mexico is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should definitely be on your bucket list.
Rising up from the flat, dusty, New Mexico desert, it’s hard to miss the imposing and mysterious Shiprock Pinnacle. This unique rock formation can be seen for miles in all directions and is known to the Navajo as “Tsé Bit’ A’í”, or rock with wings. The peak tip rests at 7,178 feet above sea level and is at the center of three volcanic pressure ridges that pushed the rock skyward millenniums ago. According to legend, it’s all that remains of the giant bird that carried the Navajo from the north to New Mexico. As this rock formation is sacred to the Navajos – hiking and/or climbing on the sacred peak or its surrounding rocks are forbidden.
The Bisti Badlands is one of the most unique places you will ever visit and definitely one of the coolest places nobody has ever heard of. This unworldly place was once a coastal swamp of an inland sea. The Bisti Badlands offer some of the most unusual scenery in the American Southwest, and National Geographic Travel listed it as one of their “must visit” adventure destinations in 2019.
Photographers, hikers, and explorers from around the world visit the Bisti Badlands to see the hoodoos, desert spires, natural arches, and fossils unique to this area. An early relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Bisti Beast was discovered in 1997. This 30-foot tyrannosaur roamed the Earth around 74 million years ago and to date has only been found in New Mexico. The Bisti Beast is not the only specimen discovered within the Bisti. Researchers have discovered numerous other fossils including the duck-billed dinosaur Parasaurolophus, a Pentaceratops, a large sauropod named Alamosaurus, as well as numerous turtles, fish, crocodiles, and other species.
The Bisti Badlands is probably the closest thing to Mars you’ll ever see. Although we’ll spend time exploring and photographing the endless hoodoos, desert spires, arches, and amazing formations, we’ll focus our attention in three different areas of Bisti: the northern Bisti area where the Three Wings, Beige/Conversing/Vanilla Hoodoos, and Mantra Ray are located; the southern Bisti area where the Egg Hatchery, Hoodo City, and Bisti Arch are located, and the Valley of Dreams area where the Alien Throne and King of Wings are located.
The Galactic Center of the Milky Way will be visible between 8:30 PM and 11:30 PM that week with dark skies. The Galactic Center will be mostly vertical making for spectacular skies. Be prepared for several spectacular evenings of shooting the Milky Way!
Itinerary & General Information
- Arrival – Arrival at hotel in Farmington, NM / 5 PM Meet-and-Greet and group dinner.
- Day 1 – We’ll spend our first day at Shiprock Pinnacle. We’ll also spend time working on our images, discussing camera techniques, and preparing for our days in Bisti. Depending on the weather and night sky, we may shoot the stars into the evening.
- Day 2 – We’ll focus our activities in the northern Bisti area where the Three Wings, Beige/Conversing/Vanilla Hoodoos, and Mantra Ray are located. Although the terrain is quite flat in this area of Bisti, plan to hike several miles throughout the day as we move from location to location. Depending on the weather and night sky, we may shoot the stars into the evening.
- Day 3 – We’ll use the morning of the third day to work on our images in the classroom before heading out to the southern Bisti area where the Egg Hatchery, Hoodo City, and Bisti Arch are located.
- Day 4 – The fourth day of the workshop will be one of the most rewarding days of the workshop as we hike the Valley of Dreams area where the Alien Throne and King of Wings are located. We’ll spend the day scouting locations for an evening of Astrophotography.
- Day 5 – We’ll spend our final morning critiquing our images in the classroom before concluding our adventure.
John Bosma Fine Arts Photography is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service.
What to Expect
The majority of our days will start early, before sunrise. After a quick cup of coffee or tea, we’ll be off to get into position at a location in the best light of the day with breakfast in the field in order to maximize our shooting time. We’ll often continue until mid-to-late morning before heading back to Basecamp.
Back at Basecamp, we’ll have time for off-loading memory cards, classroom lectures & instruction, working on our images, one-on-one guidance, or time to relax. Then, in the mid-to-late afternoon, we’ll head out again to capture the evening skies, getting the most out of the sunset and/or shooting the stars in the night sky.
More important than just getting you to some of the best and most remote areas of the park at the best times of the day, this five-day landscape photography workshop will challenge you to take your photography to the next level and to develop your own photographic voice.
In the Field:
Out in the field, we’ll explore different approaches to scene visualization, ground/sky/sea compositions, and how to manage complex highlight and shadow scenes using techniques such as dynamic bracketing, focus stacking, framing, and neutral density filters.
In the Classroom:
In the classroom, we’ll spend time developing your post-production workflow – learning when Lightroom is enough and when you need to move your work into Photoshop – using techniques such as luminosity masks to create and solve contrast, color, and blending issues.
You’ll benefit from our guidance, hours of capture time in the field with an instructor by your side, and classroom instruction as you learn new techniques and strategies for creating dynamic images. We’ll help you take your photography to the next level.
Tuition & Payment Terms
What’s Included in Your Tuition:
- 5 nights lodging / 5.5 training days
- Field meals and snacks
- All ground transportation during the workshop
- Workshop course materials
- In-the-field photographic training
- Online prep & orientation classes prior to the workshop
- Post-production classes and techniques during the workshop
- Online post-production classes after the workshop
What’s Not Included in Your Tuition:
- Transportation to/from your home to Basecamp
- Lodging beyond the 5 nights included in the workshop