The American Southwest offers the most spectacular landscape photography on Earth. It is dramatic beyond belief, and it is as varied as it is beautiful. Join Jim on this photo tour and he will help you take the best landscape images ever. This trip is designed to fit into anyone's schedule, and even if you have been to these places in the past, see them with fresh eyes with Jim's help. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing these stunning locations, they will leave you breathless for sure. We take advantage of the best light -- sunrise and sunset -- every day, and you will learn a lot about composition, depth of field, the hyperfocal distance, and exposure. In addition, you will have ample opportunity to photograph stars, star trails, and the Milky Way, and we will 'paint with light' some of the fabulous rock formations with the night sky in the background. We stay in the best available hotels and motels for your comfort. All of the places we use have WiFi.
DAY 1: Fri, Oct 7. Arrive in Grand Junction, Colorado and transfer to our airport hotel. Our group meets for the first time in the lobby at 7:00 pm for a welcome dinner, and afterwards Jim will give a presentation on landscape photography as well as star photography. This is a good time to make sure all of your batteries are charged, your digital sensor is free of dust, and your flash cards are reformatted. Overnight Grand Vista Hotel, Grand Junction, Colorado.
DAY 2: Sat, Oct 8. After breakfast we drive two hours to Moab, Utah. Enroute we stop at the Cisco Ghost Town for some work with HDR with the abandoned structures for the old mining town. When we arrive in Moab we check into our hotel, have lunch, and then drive to one of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. -- Arches National Park. We take several easy, level trails to photograph spectacular rock formations such as Double Arch, Landscape Arch, Skyline Arch, and Turret Arch. We fine a great place for sunset, and then we return to Double Arch to do some night photography with the stars as a background. We will paint the arch with a flashlight for a stunning contrast with the night sky. Overnight Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn.
DAY 3: Sun, Oct 9. This morning we have an early breakfast and go into Arches National Park to photograph the sunrise on North Window with Turret Arch seen through the window. It’s a classic landscape image. We continue to photograph in the park to take advantage of the beautiful morning light, and then we return to the hotel for a midday Siesta. In the middle afternoon, we drive to the trailhead leading to Delicate Arch, the iconic formation of the park and of Utah. It is a 45 to 60 minute walk up to the arch -- part of the way is sand and dirt trail and part of it is on non-slip sandstone. If you are in reasonably good physical condition, the moderate incline should be no problem. The expeniture of energy is worth the fabulous shot. If you have the energy to stay until dark, we can do more night sky photography while painting the arch with a flashlight. Overnight Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn.
DAY: 4, Mon, Oct. 10. We get up early again this morning for the classic sunrise shot of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. It’s a 50 minute drive from the hotel to the trail head, then there is a half mile easy trail to get to the formation. The underside of the arch glows red/orange at sunrise, and you can see some of the spectacular formations of the canyon through the opening. The rest of the day is spent exploring Canyonlands from the various viewpoints and trails.``Overnight Best Western Plus Canyonlands Inn.
DAY 5: Tue, Oct. 11. We depart Moab this morning after breakfast and head south. Our first stop is Newspaper Rock which is one of the best examples of Indian petroglyphs, some of which are 2000 years years old. From here we continue south to Monument Valley Tribal Park and check into our hotel which has a stunning view of the three Mittens -- the famous buttes that rise dramatically from the valley floorj. In the afternoon we go into Monument Valley with a Navajo guide to photograph the spectacular scenery. We shoot the awe inspiring buttes and mesas in beautiful late afternoon lighting, and we end the day shooting the famous Totem Pole formation at sunset. Overnight at the The View Hotel inside Monument Valley.
Day 6: Wed, Oct 12. We will photograph the sunrise this morning with the three Mittens partially silhouetted agains the eastern sky. After breakfast, we have another tour of the Valley that includes Teardrop Arch, the Three Sisters, and Thunderbird Mesa. We will have a midday break for lunch and a rest and let the sun get lower in the sky. Then we will have another sunset in this spectacular place. Jim will talk a lot about HSR, wide angle photography, looking for dominant foregrounds to embellish compositions, and exposure. Overnight at the The View Hotel inside Monument Valley.
DAY 7: Thur, Oct. 13. After an early breakfast we head west toward Page, Arizona. We arrive in about two hours at the famous Antelope Canyon. We descend into Lower Antelope Canyon on a series of steel ladders to shoot the stunning sandstone contours carved by raging flash floods over thousands of millenia. The way the light plays on the rock formations is exquisite, and everywhere you look you’ll see an amazing composition. Following lunch, we visit Horseshoe Bend with its dramatic overlook to the remarkable gooseneck of the Colorado River. This is an incredible wide angle shot. From here, we drive north to Bryce Canyon and arrive in the late afternoon. If we still have enough time, we’ll photograph sunset lighting on the canyon. Overnight Ruby’s Inn.
DAY 8, Fri, Oct. 14 Our hotel is just outside the park entrance, so in just a few minutes we are at a spectacular overlook of the canyon to photograph the sunrise. If you haver never been to Bryce, your first sight of it is an overwhelming experience. Fanciful rock formations in pinkish-orange with bands of white seem like a fantasy set from a movie. In the low angled light, the canyon glows in unreal colors, and your pictures can’t help but be amazing. We return to the hotel for breakfast, and then we head back to Bryce Canyon and hike one of the trails down inside the canyon for a very different viewpoint. The elevation of Bryce is about 8300 feet, so you’ll want to walk slowly and take your time looking for stunning compositions. The trail is easy to walk on, but you’ll want to lighten your camera backpack to make the experience more pleasant. At sunset, we have choose a different vantage point and you definitely won’t be disappointed by the beauty you are fortunate enough to see and capture. Overnight Ruby’s Inn.
Day 9, Sat, Oct. 15. We have one more sunrise opportunity at Bryce Canyon, and then after breakfast we drive southwest to Las Vegas. The drive is about 4 1/2 hours, so your return flight home should be not earlier than the middle afternoon.
TOUR COST: $4080. Includes 9 nights lodging, all ground transportation, all breakfasts, welcome and farewell dinners, all entrance fees to the national parks, entrance fee to the Navajo lands, water on board van, photo instruction, and critiques on demand.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: $875
NOT INCLUDED: Airfare, dinners not mentioned in the itinerary, lunches, alcoholic beverages, trip cancellation insurance, and items of a personal nature.