Hello, Arches Workshop attendees!

We're delighted you're joining us. Below is crucial information for a successful workshop. Please read thoroughly - some things require action before the workshop.

Matt Hill & Tim Cooper

Required: Medical Release Form

1) Please download the below Medical Release Form
2) Complete and send to your workshop leader before arriving at the workshop. 
NOTE: You may use Adobe Acrobat Reader to electronically sign it, or print then photograph it.
3) Send to Matt Hill via adventure@nationalparksatnight.com

Required: Pre-Workshop Form

1) Please download the below liability release form
2) Complete this and return to your workshop leader before arriving at the workshop.
NOTE: You may use Adobe Acrobat Reader to electronically sign it, or print then photograph it  
3) Send to Matt Hill via adventure@nationalparksatnight.com

Suggestions about about travel arrangements 

Your workshop experience is time that you invested in learning and experiencing. We want you to get the most out of it, so here is how to show up rested and ready to begin. It's pretty simple - plan to arrive before it starts and after it ends.

Below, we make suggestions to aid you in making proper air and hotel reservations.

Arches: Nov 15-19, 2016 
Workshop begins at 10am on Nov 15 and ends after the shoot the night of Nov 19th.
We suggest arriving at your hotel on November 14th and departing on November 20th.

If you have any trouble with the hotel, try calling them directly at (435) 259-1150 and asking for GROUP RESERVATIONS. They will honor the $99/night room block. Our hotel is the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Moab. If you're staying elsewhere, then this will be where our lectures and classroom time will be.

Of course, if you want to arrive or depart any earlier or later before and after the workshop, bonus! We chose some great places to spend extra time ;-) Keep in mind our workshop group rates may not apply for hotels before or after the workshops.

Basic information

We have a lot of info in our FAQs and a pretty comprehensive list of gear. If you haven't browsed those yet, check them out now and then come back to continue below.

Gear List

Choosing the right tools for night photography can be overwhelming. If you already have a preferred kit that serves you well, then most likely you can just skim the below info. If you are not a seasoned night photographer, you will find the below resource helpful in identifying essential gear for a successful workshop. Again, always feel free to reach out to either of your workshop's instructors for guidance and personal advice. This is a general guideline.

Digital Camera

Most modern DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras from the last 2-3 years are well equipped to handle the longer exposures (6-8 minutes) as well as the higher ISOs (3200 and beyond) that night photography will demand. We do not recommend point and shoot cameras, no matter how advanced they might be as they typically can’t get beyond 30-second exposures without losing significant image quality.


Suggested Nikon Cameras

7200, D500, D610, D750, 800/810, D3(s)/4/5

Suggested Canon Cameras:

Canon: 5D3, 1Dx series, 6d, 7d2, 80d, 70d

If you don't have a Nikon or Canon SLR camera please make sure your camera has these features 

   The ability to shoot RAW files

   Manual exposure mode

   Bulb (B) setting for long exposures

   The capability to use a remote shutter releas

Note: Due to the generosity of our sponsor Nikon, we may have extra lenses and bodies to test during the workshop for the curious. (Yay!)

Suggested Online Rental Agencies:


Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless cameras offer a nice size reduction to DSLRs without sacrificing image quality. They Olympus OMD EM1/5m2 offer some groundbreaking technology such as Live Composite and Live Bulb that will show you the image and histogram gradually build on the back of the screen.  The Fujifilm XT1, Pro 1, X E-1/2, X100(t) are my personal favorite for ease of use and image quality. The Sony A7 series of cameras (especially the A7s) also perform very well but their lenses can be tricky to focus and find infinity. I’d suggest using an adapter and a manual focus lens from Zeiss or Nikon. 

If you have any questions about your camera model, please let us know (contact info at top of page). Digital or Film, if it takes a battery to make it work, we advise bringing at least 2 extra spares!


We recommend your fastest and widest lenses. 

Not only does using a lens with an f/2.8 or faster maximum aperture increases viewfinder brightness but it will also let us rely less on the higher ISOs of 6400+.

Focusing at night - Almost all focusing at night is done manually, so your AF lenses must have a manual focus setting. Older Nikon AIS lenses can be an inexpensive solution to manually hyperfocus. Zeiss also makes excellent manual focus lenses for Canon, Nikon, and Sony.  One of favorites is the Zeiss 21mm 2.8 or if you can afford (or rent) the superwide 15mm 2.8. With an adapter, you can easily mount any of these Nikon or Zeiss lenses  on your Mirrorless cameras. 

Make sure your lens has distance markings on the lens barrel. These markings allow you to use Hyperfocal and Zone Focusing at night.

Fixed focal length lenses can be lighter, sharper, and less susceptible to lens-flare. Zoom lenses offer more flexibility by allowing you to work all night without changing lenses. This can help keep your camera’s sensor dust free in dirty conditions.

Whatever lenses you bring, don't forget you lens hood. The moon and light painting can cause lens flare. 

If you do not own a wide/fast lens or appropriate camera - consider renting one. But if you do rent - we advise getting the gear a couple days before the workshop so you can get used to it before operating it in the dark. See above for a list of rental agencies.

Other Required Gear

Tripod: For night photographers a good, sturdy tripod is just as important as what camera you choose. So investing in a good quality tripod is a must. When choosing a tripod we have several factors to consider: 

  • How much does the tripod weigh?
  • How much weight it can carry?
  • What is the max/minimum height?

A good aluminum tripod typically will cost $150-$300 including a head. They weigh 5 to 7 lbs and can go up to 57". We want to look at maximum height without extending your center column as that is the most stable stance. Aluminum tripods are 2 to 3 lbs heavier and $200-$300 less than carbon fiber (you tend to pay $100 per pound you save!) Aluminum also gets much colder than carbon fiber at night. Carbon fiber tripods weight 2 to 4 lbs–if you have to do much walking around in the dark that can make a big difference. Manfrotto, Mefoto, Induro, and Oben all have a good selection of Aluminum and Carbon Fiber tripods. Gitzo and ReallyRight Stuff are on the higher end and will last a lifetime. Matt uses a Gitzo Traveler Series 2 tripod. Pan tilt heads are very precise but again can be more cumbersome then ball heads. Tim uses a Gitzo Series 3 tripod and Acratech ballhead.

Whatever you choose, make sure both the legs and head are rated to hold the weight of your camera and lens. 

Remote shutter release: Usually B&H has a Nikon/Canon model for $135 or $55. The $135 model has a built in timer for setting the exact time to expose as well as offering interval shooting. The $55 model is a simple on/off switch. There are also third party remotes made by Vello that offer these same remotes for a significantly cheaper price and work just as well. We do not recommend wireless remotes, because most times you will have to depress and hold the button down for the entire exposure and no one wants to do that for 6 minutes! Or, you can accidentally wander out of range of the receiver and prematurely end an exposure.

If your remote release is a simple on/off switch, or you use a mechanical cable release with a film camera, you’ll need a digital stopwatch or phone to accurately time your exposures. If your remote release requires a battery make sure to bring a spare. We often bring two remote release shutters just in case anything happens.


Besides the typical light sources we are recommending below, think of anything that emits light and bring it! The workshop will be full of experimentation with different types of light sources!

Strobe flash: Make sure it has a manual trigger and adjustable power settings. Don’t forget extra batteries.

Flashlights: The two most important considerations when purchasing a flashlight is the lumens (brightness) and what type of bulb it uses (what is the color of the light. I’m a fan of incandescent flashlights that have a yellow/warm light to them. We find this light to complement the blue skies in a very pleasing way. White LEDs are also nice – but watch out for ones that cast a bluish tint. 

One of our favorite flashlights is the Coast HP7R.  It can be powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or four AA batteries so you'll never be without light! It has a very even and focusable beam of light that really aids in even light painting. It is a white LED light, so bring a couple CTO gels to wrap around it to warm things up from time to time. We recommend, however, bringing 2-3 flashlights at various lumens so that you can have a nice overlap of brightness and intensity that you can choose to paint the scene.

Here is a breakdown:

Low Power: The Coast HP5R is a small, focusable rechargeable light. It's 185 lumens are good for low-power work near your camera or walking.

You may also want to consider the Coast PX20 multicolor 155 lumen flashlight for use with the red beam to preserve you night eyesight. 
Red flashlights are great for looking for looking in your camera bag or at your camera buttons without losing your night vision.

Medium power: The Coast HP7R is our medium flashlight of choice that still packs a 300 lumen punch.  Our favorite aspect is the smooth zoom focusing and included rechargeable batteries or four (included) AAA batteries. It also can illuminate up 1,154 feet away! Accessory gel filter set here.

If you wanna go old-school, and they are disappearing fast, AA- and C-cell Maglites, Surefire G2, or multi-bulb LED flashlights - 25 to 80 Lumens. Effective range 2’ to 30’. This can be your main, general-purpose flashlight for light painting in Tungsten white balance scenarios.

High power: The Coast HP17 is large, but powerful. It's 970 lumens and will aid focusing in almost any situation. Effective range up to 1,571’.  Matt likes to keep a Light & Motion bike light on his tripod at all times for hands-free focusing.

Workshop attendee special discount: If you order a flashlight from coastportland.com, use our discount the code parksatnight to get 25% off of the entire order.

Note: Avoid the million+ candlepower lights found in most box stores. They are typically too bright for most applications and can be very bulky and heavy to hump around all night.

Gels: Use the Honl CTO and Color Effects Gel kits over your flashes or flashlights.

If you want to cover bigger flashes or Lights we recommend the larger Rosco CTO gels. CTO warms the color temperature of your flash and LED flashlights. The Color Effects Gels should be used to add complementary color to the scene.

Other Handy Items

A small piece of gaffer's tape: to hold stuff down. You never know what will happen. We know someone whose remote release broke so he used gaffer’s tape and a small rock to trip his shutter. (Tenacity wins!)

Pro tip: Wrap some Gaffer Tape around one of the legs of your tripod about 10-15 times and you will always have it with you (minus the bulk of the tape roll).

Lens tissues or a soft cloth: Lenses can get dirty in a hurry outside.

A hotshoe bubble level: To make sure you have your camera horizon perfectly level. Some tripods/heads/cameras have built in levels. The Acratech Double Axis Spirit Level is $21.90 at B&H Photo.


The atmosphere on NPAN workshops is casual, so feel free to leave formal wear at home. (Unless, of course, that is your casual.) Because we shoot at night, working temperatures can sometimes vary dramatically, so it's often best to dress in layers. Also, consider wearing dark (even black) clothes at night, to stay "invisible" to the camera should you need to walk into the frame for light-painting, etc.

It's likely to be cold. And we'll be standing around much of the time, not hiking so much. So bring warm clothes. Layers (as mentioned above) are crucial, such as thermal underwear, cotton over that and a warm jacket that prevents wind form getting in. Also think about good warm socks (like wool), gloves, a winter hat and perhaps a scarf. Some people like chemical hand and toe warmers for extra comfort.

We can't predict the weather with any authority, but you can read more about the highs and lows (and precipitation) here. Essentially, Average high and low is 56 degrees Fahrenheit daytime and 30 night-time. Extreme highs and lows are 79 degrees and 12 degrees. So please prepare for cold so we can all have fun focusing on the photos and not discomfort.

You may also check the weather forecast for Moab, UT a day or two while packing out for the workshop.

Proper footwear is important, to prevent slips or tumbles that could damage either you or camera gear (GASP!). We advise wearing quality trail shoes or hiking boots.