Monday, June 5, 2023

Remote Utah Nightscape Workshop


Natural Obelisks "Mom, Pop and Henry" in Capitol Reef National Park

The same Cathedral Valley spires photographed, using a Blue Hour blend. These features were first photographed in 1854 by Solomon Carvalho, during a John C. Fremont expedition to the area. The spires have since been largely ignored by modern photographers due to their remote location in the park.

Utah Badlands and Capitol Reef Nightscape Workshop - led by Royce Bair and Robert McKendrick - September 11-15, 2023 - limited to only 6 participants.

Why this remote area of Utah? The "badlands" between Hanksville and Cainesville, and the "Cathedral Valley" area of Capitol Reef National Park are far away from the crowds you see in other popular central and southern Utah locations, yet they have stunning beauty and some of the darkest skies in the world. There may be some days you will not see another person, other than our group!

Why in September? September 11-15 is during a new moon period. The temperatures are more moderate. May and September are the two best months for this area. The Milky Way is more diagonal in May, whereas it is more vertical in September. The core of the MW doesn't rise until about midnight in May, with the best images during 1:00 to 3:00 in the morning (allowing for very little sleep)! In September the MW core is ready for photography by 9:10 PM and stays up for two hours — allowing for both great nightscapes and better sleeping cycles (as well as sunrise photography)!

A November Milky Way "erupting" over Factory Butte, Utah badlands

A November Milky Way over "Thumb Butte" - Utah badlands

Spring panorama over Needle Mountain in Upper Cathedral Valley by R. McKendrick (Note: October Milky Ways do not arch like this, but remain vertical; however, skies are so dark in this area, that very little post-processing is required for either season!)

Why only 6 participants? Robert and I want your experience to feel very personal and not crowded. Our attention will be on you and your needs. We will only use our cameras when it necessary for instructive examples.

Will we be doing any daytime photography? Absolutely! Because of the October night cycles, we will be able to do photography before and during the sunset periods; and we'll have several sunrise opportunities for photography. If you have a drone, you may wish to bring it, as there will be several opportunities to fly and photograph with it.

Factory Butte at dawn by R. McKendrick (yes, this sky is real!)

Skyline Overlook (Utah badlands) by R. McKendrick

Temple of the Moon and Sun, Capitol Reef National Park by R. McKendrick. This is a drone photo. Note that truck in bottom right corner is just outside park boundaries.

Drone aerial abstract of bentonite hills near Mars Research Station by R. Bair

North Cainesville Mesa by R. McKendrick

Upper Cathedral Valley sunrise by R. McKendrick

What is the physical exertion level for this workshop? Moderate. Most photography locations will be within 1/4 mile of your car or less.

Will transportation be provided? No. We suggest that each workshop attendee bring or rent a high-clearance vehicle. 4-wheel drive is usually not necessary, but preferred. Much of our daily workshop travel will be on gravel or dirt roads. Your airline flights can be into Grand Junction, CO (2.5 hours/159 miles to Hanksville), Salt Lake City (3.5 hours/231 miles to Hanksville) or Las Vegas (6 hours/370 miles to Hanksville).

Will lodging be provided? No. You will need to arrange lodging in Hanksville, Utah (our base). We suggest you book at least 5 nights (September 11-15, checking out on Sept. 16). We recommend Duke's Luxury Cabins (about $169/night) or the Whispering Sands Motel (about $149/night, with a 10% discount for AAA or AARP/seniors).

Will meals be provided? No. There is at least one good restaurant in Hanksville, a fast food burger spot, a grocery store (The Bull Market), a pizza spot (inside the grocery store)  and a couple of convenience stores. We will be providing snacks and bottled water.

Daytime post-processing sessions will be included for those who want this instruction.

The cost of this workshop is $1995 per person, with a deposit of $900 to hold your spot. Full payment is due at least 30 days before the workshop. You may cancel by July 10th and receive a full refund. You may cancel by August 10th and receive a 50% refund. There are no refunds after August 10, 2023.

To REGISTER for the workshop, eMAIL ME and I will send you an invoice for $900 to secure your workshop spot. You can use this same email to ask any questions. 


  1. Very informative workshop. I learn a lot for this article.
    All the photographs are really beutiful.

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  4. I hope I can join this workshop one day. It sounds amazing.

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