I’m presenting this “Big Bend at Night Photo Tour 2021” in collaboration with the Texas Photographic Society (TPS) in support of their AT NIGHT exhibition scheduled for later this year. This tour takes place in March 2021, right after the other Big Bend tour that I am holding.
LIMITED TO SIX (6) PARTICIPANTS ~
The skies in Big Bend National Park offer us some of the darkest skies in North America. And we’ll take advantage of that! With a Bortle rating of 1- 2 , Big Bend NP makes an especially awesome place for astro and night photography.
But before dark arrives we’ll utilize that sweet light at day’s end to get in some landscapes of some of the park’s most iconic shoot locations. Then it’s full-on playtime: light painting, star trails, milky way photography, astro photography…whatever we create thanks to those über dark skies and the wonders of modern camera technology.
While spending our nights awake and about we might get fun sightings of nocturnal critters. Big Bend is a wildlife-rich region, but because it is so vast seeing wildlife isn’t easy. But nighttime shoots sometimes reward us with views of ringtail cats. Of course, the dark doesn’t make for good images of these quirky characters, but it is fun to watch them watching us! Seeing the glow of their big, round eyes from rocks nearby makes for a unique experience, for sure!
How does this differ from my other Big Bend tour?
Both tours include night photography, but this one focuses primarily on it. And, during both tours, we’ll enjoy landscape shoots to take advantage of the sweet light at the end of the day.
But this tour — unlike my other March 2021 Big Bend tour — does not include morning shoots. Instead, we’ll put our time and energy into shooting after dark and sleeping in.
Both tours include the Welcome Dinner. Both begin with a shoot at the Terlingua Cemetery, but my “regular” only has one dedicated night shoot. This one does night photography all three (3) nights.
PLEASE NOTE: This is an estimated schedule and we’ll do our best to stick to this itinerary, but certain conditions may necessitate changes. Good photographic experiences and plenty of chances to photograph the natural environment will be our goals at all times.
MARCH 9 (Tuesday):
Meet at 6:00 pm for our Welcome Dinner at the Starlight in Terlingua ghost town. This dinner is INCLUDED in the price of your tour (remaining meals are self-pay). Following dinner, plan on a light-painting lesson and an evening of photography under the stars.
MARCH 10 (Wednesday):
After your night of photographic adventure you’ll likely enjoy sleeping in.
Be sure to schedule some one-on-one with me during the day so I can help you reach the goals you have for your tour.
We’ll meet up for an early dinner before heading out to do our first sunset shoot. This one is tenatively set for the Basin. It will be followed by a night of exploration and creative photography.
MARCH 11 (Thursday):
You’ll probably enjoy sleeping in a bit once again after your night of creativity.
If you haven’t yet had your one-on-one with me be sure to schedule that today. Perhaps last night’s shooting brought up some questions or concerns. If so please allow me help you with those before we head out after dark again.
After another early dinner it’s time once more for a sunset shoot. Location TBA.
Enjoy another night of shooting the stars and painting with light. (And keep an eye out for those glowing ringtail eyes, too!)
MARCH 12 (Friday):
Sleep in after a late night and then head out– if you’re done exploring the park, that is!
Once home let me know if you’d like processing suggestions and/or an image review. Many times questions arise after the tour. Please feel free to reach out to me.
WHAT YOU CAN LEARN ON THIS TOUR:
- How to master manual exposure (& when it’s better than priority exposures)
- How to focus at night
- How & when to do nighttime silhouettes
- Landscape photography composition and metering tips
- Light painting techniques
- How to shoot star trails
- How to get sharp stars
- Overall tips for night-sky photography
- How and when to apply HDR techniques
A note about instruction on my photo tours:
Since skills levels vary so much on photo tours, I tailor my teaching to individual needs. Please do not be shy about telling me what you need.
- Three full nights of photography fun, including my hands-on guidance.
- A one-on-one problem-solving/image review session with me (if you want one).
- “Welcome Dinner” at the Starlight Theatre (meal & beverages included)
- Instruction in light painting techniques
- Water & snacks
- Park entrance fees
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Meals* (except “Welcome Dinner; it is included)
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT FOOD: Due to its vastness, availability of stores and restaurants in the park is slim. Therefore, you may want to bring a cooler filled with some food items for yourself.
- Transportation (we will rely on carpooling to get us to our photo shoot spots in the park)
LOGISTICS, EQUIPMENT & SUCH:
The two closest major airports are Midland-Odessa (about 3 1/4 hours drive) and El Paso (about a 5-hour drive).
The code for the Midland-Odessa airport is MAF (officially: Midland International Air and Space Port). It is located approximately midway between the cities of Midland and Odessa.
The code for the El Paso Airport is ELP (officially: El Paso International Airport).
Amtrak stops in Alpine (80 miles away). Visit this site (VisitBigBend.com) for some great, detailed info about how to best get to the Big Bend Region.
The closest car rental is in Alpine, but they don’t have much selection. If you need to rent a vehicle, your best bet is to get one in Odessa/Midland or El Paso. You will not need a 4-wheel drive or even a high-clearance vehicle. That said, you don’t want to rent a sports car, either. Your basic sedan will do the job just fine.
It is possible that you will need to walk for 15-30 minutes in the dark. You’ll need to be able to do so carrying your gear. The walks are not terribly strenuous, but they may challenge some and will be on rocky and sometimes uneven terrain. If you have any concerns please do not hesitate to email me with questions.
Wondering what sort of photography equipment you might need on a trip like this? Here’s the EQUIPMENT CHECKLIST (PDF) I send out to participants as we prepare for the tour.
Please note that this is just a SUGGESTED gear list. Let me know if you have any questions about what to bring.
That said, two things that will be absolutely neccessary are a tripod and a way to easily carry your gear during our short hikes to shot locations.
Please plan to arrive by 6:00 pm on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 for our Welcome Dinner in Terlingua (included in your tour).
Bring your gear to the Welcome Dinner as we’ll start in on our night photography immediately following dinner.
Your Welcome Dinner (and beverages) is included in the price of your tour, but all other meals are self-pay.
On that note, due to its vastness and isolated location, availability of stores and restaurants is slim. Therefore, I highly suggest you bring some food items for yourself. For those driving to the tour, bringing an ice chest would be a good idea.
When you join me for my “Big Bend at Night Photo Tour 2021” I recommend you stay in the park if possible (this requires procuring reservations FAR ahead of time). You can CAMP or stay at the Chisos Mountains Lodge (listed below).
The next best choice would be Terlingua/Study Butte & we’ve listed some lodging options there as well. The closest place with “chain” hotels is Alpine –80 miles away– so we haven’t included that info (too far to drive for the purposes of this tour).
By the way, Terlingua and Study Butte are pretty much the same, really small place.
We DO NOT endorse any of these in particular; we’re merely providing this list as a convenience to you:
- Chisos Mountains Lodge ~ located in the park; rooms fill quickly, especially in the spring so book REALLY early!
- Big Bend Resort & Adventures ~ in Study Butte (this is where I usually stay – it’s not the greatest, but it’s a place to sleep & is affordable). NOTE: Try calling instead of relying on the website; the online reservation system often tells you there are no vacancies when there are plenty. Their phone number is: 432-371-3382
- Big Bend Casitas (Far Flung Adventures) ~ in Terlingua
- La Posada Milagro ~ in Terlingua
- Airbnb seems to have more and more listings for lodging in travel trailers. I don’t have any personal experience with this, but it does give you another option.
GENERAL INFO / SIGN UP:
- DURATION: 3 nights
- DATE: March 9-11, 2021
- SPACE FOR: Six (6) photographers
- PRICE: $895 (Texas Photographic Society members receive 10% discount)
Please read our Cancellation Policy before purchasing.(Follow the provided link or go to link under “MORE” on sidebar to the right.) Thanks!
- If Covid-19 virus-related issues affect your ability to attend the workshop you will be issued a full refund or credit toward any of our future events.
- In the event that we are forced to cancel due to a Covid-19-related issue you will be issued a full refund or credit toward any of our future events.
At the start of each event, we’ll ask you to sign this liability waiver. We encourage you to review it before signing up.
- Participants will be asked to wear a mask when within six (6) feet of others (except when with a travel companion).
- The Welcome Dinner is included in the price of our tour. If you would prefer to get a meal to go instead of dining with the group please let me know.
- As feasible, we will observe the Covid-19 prevention measures recommended by the Texas DSHS.