Shenandoah

Passport Series Night Photography Workshop

Road-trip through time as we fully immerse ourselves in the scenic Shenandoah area. We’ll visit historic towns like Harpers Ferry and venture deep into the surreal underworld of the Luray Caverns. Then of course there is the 105-mile Skyline Drive, which features 75 beautiful overlooks of the rolling Blue Ridge Mountains. We’ll do some daytime hikes to photograph waterfalls, and nighttime shoots to capture the Milky Way rising above the Appalachians. You are sure to enjoy an incredibly immersive experience in our nation’s 20th national park.

Workshop Gallery

photos © Gabriel Biderman & Chris Nicholson

Workshop Details

June 7-12, 2020

This is a 6-night, 6-day workshop. Your adventure begins with a group dinner at June 6 at 6 p.m. and ends after a final slideshow on the afternoon of June 12.

$1,750 + applicable taxes. Register below.

Skill level

Open to all who have an understanding of the basic principles of photography and of their cameras.

Class size

14, with 2 instructors — 7:1 ratio

NPS website

Shenandoah National Park

Our workshop mission is to explore every U.S. national park. As with all our Passport Series locations, it may be years (if ever) before we return to any specific park. If you have a dream of making epic long exposures at night at Shenandoah, we hope you join us.

Workshop Leaders

Register Now

  • Deposit of $500 is required to reserve your spot at the workshop.

  • Balance of $1,250 due on March 8, 2020.
    Pay balance here.

  • You may choose the “Pay in Full” ticket if you desire to pay all at once.

  • Last day for a cancellation request is March 7, 2020 (see cancellation and refund policy).

  • The workshop fee does not include transportation to and from the park, lodging, food or the park admission fee.

 


The Shenandoah Experience

Our Shenandoah workshop will be part road trip, part history lesson and plenty of one-on-one time. We will also explore the park and surrounding area during the day and night.

We will meet for a welcome dinner in Harpers Ferry on June 6. After dinner we’ll take a casual twilight walk around the town. The next day we will go over the variety of day and night photographic opportunities we’ll experience during the week. Then we’ll get to the fun part: exercising our trigger fingers with long daytime exposures around one of the most scenic and historic towns in the U.S.

The next day we’ll pack our bags and head into the park. Thus will begin a four-day and -night immersive exploration of the many overlooks of the beautiful blue ridges. We will also get off the pavement and do some moderate hiking to experience true wilderness and perhaps some of the secrets of the Appalachians.

What You Should Know

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 workshop challenging, stimulating and inspiring. We will also be focusing on daytime landscape and long exposure techniques—so bring those neutral density filters!

If you would like to attend this workshop but are unsure whether you have adequate night photography skills, we can offer pre-workshop tutoring to get you ready for your adventure with us. Alternatively or additionally, a few of us have written books that may be productive pre-workshop reads.

What You Will Learn

We hope to push you to step outside your comfort zone—to test the limits of what you and your camera can do. You’ll go home after the workshop with a solid grasp of long-exposure photography during the day and night, as well as a good foundation in light painting techniques.

TOPICS COVERED WILL INCLUDE:

  • the fine art of the long exposure

  • sunset photography

  • how to photograph and edit star points and the Milky Way

  • how to photograph and edit star trails

  • how to scout a national park using available resources and PhotoPills

This workshop will have mainly field instruction, but we do plan on spending one-on-one review time with each of you. We have different locations planned for each night’s shoot and we will be able to apply any daytime scouting to reinterpreting the location once the sun goes down.

Participants can stay out shooting as long as they, or their camera’s batteries, hold out. While in the field, the instructors will demonstrate their own techniques, and they will work with participants to make sure everyone gets the most out of the workshop. We will have at least one group review of our images and a post-processing lab on the last day to make sure you leave with some finished images.

Our locations have generous room to explore, so everyone will be able to spread out and not get in one another’s way. Each participant will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with Gabe and Tim in the field.

We do not tell our attendees what to photograph, and won’t line you up in a row to all shoot the same thing (unless that helps jump-start some people). Instead, we encourage you to use what you have learned to create your own unique images, and to let us guide you through the process should you desire. We do not teach you to do what we do, but rather how to develop your own night vision.

Night & Light Conditions

Travel

Washington Dulles is the best airport to fly into and out of. It is 50 minutes from Harpers Ferry and about 2.5 hours from where we will end the workshop. Or better yet, make it a road trip and drive your own car to Shenandoah. Otherwise you will need a rental car. If you are interested in carpooling or sharing a rental car, let us know and we will try to connect you with another attendee looking for the same. You are responsible for arranging and paying for your own transportation.

Nearby Airports:

  • Washington Dulles (IDA) — 50 minutes from Harpers Ferry

  • Reagan National Airport (DCA) — 1.5 hours, but heavy traffic is likely

  • Richmond (RCI) — 1.25 hours, but further from Richmond

 

Food & Lodging

There will be three hotels for this workshop, all located near our shoot locations.

You are not required to stay at the official workshop lodging, though doing so does make it easier to meet with the group each morning. Lodging info and group codes will be sent soon after registering. If you are interested in sharing a room, let us know and we will try to connect you with someone like-minded in the group.

The three areas we’re staying in all have multiple food options. We encourage staying hydrated and energized for the long days and nights of our journey!

You are responsible for arranging and paying for your own meals and accommodations.

Weather

Expect daytime highs in the 70s F, lows in the 50s.

Recommended Attire

Shorts and short-sleeve shirts for daytime, light pants and long-sleeve shirts for night. A sweatshirt and medium-weight jacket will likely be useful, and a base layer might not be a waste of packing space. Layers are good. Comfortable and protective footwear is recommended for getting around—quality trails shoes or hiking boots would be optimal.

Considerations

We will be moderately active during the workshop, so please consider your physical abilities prior to registering. We’ll be hiking on trails up to 3 miles, so quality trails shoes or hiking boots are recommended, and you should be comfortable carrying your own equipment over uneven ground in the dark.

Note: To ensure the safety of individuals and the group, National Parks at Night reserves the right for workshop leaders to use their discretion to limit an attendee from engaging in a rigorous activity on-site should that person's physical health or ability be in question. If you are unsure about your ability to meet the physical demands of this workshop, we will be happy to discuss your concerns one-on-one before you register. You are also, of course, welcome to attend a workshop and sit out any physical activity that makes you uncomfortable. In such cases, we can provide you with ideas for alternative shoot locations for that time.

Please read our FAQs section for more information about skill and gear requirements, and other information that pertains to all our workshops.

If you have questions, please contact us—we're happy to talk it over with you.

 

Finding the Night ...

Each overlook revealed rolling hills with beacons of light, and plenty of stars.
— Gabe

Ah yes, the highways and byways that weave their way through Shenandoah are pretty spectacular. It is hard not to stop at every scenic overlook and take in the ancient Appalachians and rolling Blue Ridge Mountains.

They offer some of the best places to savor a sunset (or even a sunrise, so I’ve been told) as the warm light gives way to the blue night. And as we have witnessed so many times before, the night reveals a completely different personality of the park.

The name “Shenandoah” is a Native American word meaning “daughter of the stars.” And like an owl hunting at night, the stars now guide us around this rare wild wilderness in the East.

Prior to becoming our 20th National Park, Shenandoah was the President’s Paradise. Before Camp David, in the 1920s presidents would “get away from it all” in Shenandoah. We can still visit Herbert Hoover’s Rapidan Camp. And Franklin Delanor Roosevelt dedicated Shenandoah in 1936 at the Grand Meadow with these words:

“I now take great pleasure in dedicating Shenandoah National Park, dedicating it to this and succeeding generations of Americans for the recreation and for the re-creation which they shall find here.”

The re-creation is what really resonates with me. That is what night photography is all about: reinterpreting the location under the night sky. When I first visited this park it was all about the views along Skyline Drive. But when I explored in the later hours, the owls and deer joined me for my night walks. Mountain-like clouds battled moon rays in the natural amphitheater called Big Meadows. Each overlook revealed rolling hills with beacons of light, and plenty of stars.

I hope to share this epic road trip with you as we re-create the hills, valleys, caverns and historic towns of Shenandoah National Park.

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