White Pocket Astrophotography Masterclass
Capture stunning night skies and breathtaking desert foregrounds in a world-class Dark Sky destination with this White Pocket Astrophotography masterclass.
White Pocket is part of an extensive series of unusual geologic formations, swirling sandstone layers, and white polygonal brain rock in the Vermillion Cliffs on the Pariah Plateau. The location has recently become a prime world-class destination for photographers and hikers, offering a perfect alternative to the Wave in North Coyote Buttes (just 6 miles away). The colorful stripes and otherworldly rock shapes of White Pocket provide infinite opportunities for photography, and hiking is also much more accessible than at the Wave.
White Pocket takes time to explore, and since we’ll have a fully outfitted remote camp for two nights, we’ll have plenty of time to scout the best locations. Together, we’ll capture sunsets, sunrises, blue hour, and some of the best night skies in the continental U.S. White Pocket is only accessible via a bumpy drive through deep sand in high clearance 4WD vehicles, but “Wow!” is the effort ever worth it!
A particular focus of this photography workshop will be the emphasis on Astrophotography and shooting the Milky Way. Astrophotography is intimidating for many photographers. We’ll learn how to plan an Astro shoot, find suitable locations, and organize your camera gear. We’ll also review the benefits and limitations of working with single exposures, creating a composite from two exposures, and blending blue hour exposures with star-stacked shots.
Moonset will occur around 7 PM, and the visibility of the Galactic Center will start around 8:30 PM that week. The Galactic Center will be primarily vertical, making for spectacular skies. It will also be the latter part of the Monsoon season, so there’s a strong possibility that we’ll also have water in the “pockets” for our photographs. Be prepared for two spectacular evenings of shooting the Milky Way!
We’ll meet for an online planning session before the workshop and meet for a practice session the night before we leave for White Pocket. After our time in the field, we’ll use the rest of the time learning advanced post-production techniques with our images.
Itinerary & General Information
- Arrival – Arrival at the hotel in Kanab, UT / 5 PM meet-and-greet / final prep & orientation session followed by a group dinner.
- Day 1 – Our trip to White Pocket will start at Noon with an exciting three-hour drive in 4WD vehicles through scenic backcountry, deep sands, and the occasional cattle gate! After setting up camp, we’ll spend the afternoon scouting locations for sunset, astrophotography that evening, and sunrise the following morning. The White Pocket terrain is quite rugged, and the skies will be very dark between sunset and sunrise. To maximize our time in the field and ensure the safety of everyone, our scouting, and planning time during that first afternoon will be essential. Dinner will be scheduled to ensure maximum time for sunset and golden hour. After dinner, we’ll start organizing ourselves for a night of shooting the stars. All camping equipment and services will be provided, including portable toilets, tents for sleeping, sleeping bags, and delicious home-cooked meals. All you need is a pair of comfortable shoes to hike in, your clothes, and your camera gear.
- Day 2 – Our second day will start with pre-dawn, blue hour, and sunrise. Since we’ll all be more comfortable navigating the White Pocket terrain, everyone will have more latitude in selecting the locations they’d like to photograph in the morning. We’ll continue to explore the White Pocket landscape and plan our strategies for sunset that evening, a second night of shooting the stars, and sunrise the following morning.
- Day 3 – Our third day will start again with pre-dawn, blue hour, and sunrise. After breakfast, we’ll start our trek back to Kanab, where we’ll check into our hotel, relax, and shower. We’ll spend the day working on our images from White Pocket. We will practice techniques such as luminosity masks, exposure blending, and how to solve contrast, color, and blending issues. Most importantly, we will evaluate what worked and didn’t work so we can make adjustments for the next time we’re out in the field. The day will conclude with a group dinner.
- Day 4 – We’ll spend our final morning working on our images in the classroom before ending our adventure.
John Bosma Fine Arts Photography is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service.
What to Expect
This backcountry adventure is unique on many levels:
- White Pocket is an epic dark sky destination. With its swirling layers of sandstone and white polygonal brain rock, White Pocket is a spectacular destination for daytime and Astrophotography.
- Our conditions for Astrophotography will be almost ideal this week. Moonset will occur around 7 PM, and the visibility of the Galactic Center will start around 8:30 PM and remain visible until about midnight that week. The Galactic Center will be primarily vertical, making for spectacular skies. It will also be the latter part of the Monsoon season, so there’s a strong possibility that we’ll have water in the “pockets” for our photographs. Be prepared for two spectacular evenings of shooting the Milky Way!
- As group members become more comfortable with navigating the terrain and shooting by themselves, you’ll have a lot of latitude about what, where, and when you shoot. Our itinerary will be pretty flexible.
- This workshop is focused on Astrophotography and will include an enhanced level of instruction and mentoring with your camera work and post-production activities. We’ll meet for an online planning session before the workshop and meet for a practice session the night before we leave for White Pocket. After our time in the field, we’ll use the rest of the time learning advanced post-production techniques with our images.
More important than just getting you to some of the best and most remote locations at the best times of the day, this five-day landscape photography workshop will teach you how to visualize an image, how to plan your shoot, how to capture your image in the field, and how to bring your image to life using a variety of post-production techniques.
In the Field:
We’ll learn how to scout and visualize a scene, compose a ground/sky/sea landscape to show scale and tell a story, how to manage complex highlight and shadow scenes, how and when to use filters, how to plan your images for a blended blue hour composite, how to focus your camera at night to capture pin sharp stars and foreground, and how to use apps like PhotoPills to plan a shoot. We’ll also use techniques such as dynamic bracketing and exposure blending, focus stacking and focal length blending, neutral density filters, and stacking for noise reduction.
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. We’ll learn how to use techniques such as luminosity masks to create and solve contrast, color, and blending issues; how to blend multiple images together in Photoshop to create blue hour blends, focal length blends, and exposure blends; how to use start stacking to create pin sharp starry night skies; how to create Orton glows and sharpen your final image; and how to use apps like ProPanel to increase your efficiency.
You’ll benefit from 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.
Tuition & Payment Terms
What’s Included in Your Tuition:
- 4 nights lodging (2 in hotels / 2 camping)
- All meals, snacks, and soft drinks during the workshop
- All ground transportation during the workshop
- All permits and park fees
- All camping equipment and meals at White Pocket
- Tips for crew, drivers, and local guides
- Workshop course materials
- Photographic guidance, instruction, and review from your photo instructors
- 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 the hotel in Kanab, UT
- Lodging beyond the 4 nights included in the workshop
- Alcoholic beverages
- Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Personal expenses, gratuities, and anything not listed as included
What to Bring and How to Prepare for Your Workshop
Please see our How to Prepare For Your Workshop page for guidelines on workshop prep, gear, and packing. Approximately 90 days before your workshop, you will be sent a PDF with more specific instructions.