White Sands National Monument Workshop - Don Smith Photography
  • FAQs
  • White Sands National Monument Workshop

What’s the closest airport? El Paso International Airport is the nearest airport to Alamogordo, New Mexico. The driving distance is 85 miles and takes about 1.5 hours.

How much time will be spent in the field? I will have you on location 30 minutes prior to sunrise and up to 90 minutes after sunset. Depending on the light, we will add secondary shoots on both ends of the day (optional). There will be one evening for moonlight photography on the dunes (time TBA - weather dependent).

Will you be discussing composition? Yes, and more. With each location, The instructors will offer suggestions and go over technical (craft) questions. We will be there to assist you in finding and fine-tuning your compositions.

What are the times for the class sessions? We will start with an orientation and some classroom training on the first day of the workshop (at 1 pm), followed by a sunset shoot. Class times for the remaining three days are: 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm (class tutorials). There will also be (2) shorter morning classes scheduled at 10:30am.

What topics will you cover? We will discuss RAW conversion, basic workflow, HDR with layers and masks, 32-bit processing and vision related presentations which will emphasize composition techniques.

Will the latest software be discussed? Yes, both Photoshop CC2014 and Lightroom CC 2015 will be shown as part of workflow demonstrations.

Will there be student image reviews? Yes, three review sessions are scheduled where instructors will offer review and advice for improvement.

When do we eat? The hotel will serve a continental breakfast each morning. Lunch and dinner are not provided but there are plenty of restaurants nearby.

Will there be night training sessions? Yes (one night photography session is scheduled).

What’s the weather like? Typical weather for May is an average high of 84 degrees and an average low of 55 degrees. Average rainfall is .63 inches for the month mainly with afternoon thunderstorms.

What camera should I bring? Most participants will have a digital SLR, but bring the camera or cameras with which you’re most comfortable shooting.

Do I have to shoot digitally? Much of the training will assume you’re shooting digitally, but digital isn’t required.

What lenses do you recommend? Lens choice is a very personal thing. You could probably find a use for every lens in your bag. So bring as much as your luggage will hold, even if you won’t take it in the field for every shoot. We suggest at the minimum you have the range from 24mm to 200mm (full frame) covered. Telephotos work best on the Large Dunes. I use a Tamron 150-600mm SP lens with great success!

How far will we be walking? Our longest hike is no more than 1/2 mile. It is easy to become disoriented on the dunes, so we recommend staying within visual distance of the parking areas.

What filters should I bring? Polarizers are the number one recommendation. Beyond that, GND filters are useful but not necessary. We will show you alternate ways of solving expanded dynamic range without filters.

Is a tripod required? While not required, a tripod will greatly enhance your opportunities and your images. Will I need a laptop? Without a laptop you won’t be able to participate in most of the interactive classroom training sessions. A notebook is recommended.

I’m a beginner—is there a minimum skill level required? All skill levels are welcome. Some of the material may be beyond your current level, but much will benefit photographers of all abilities.

Can my wife/husband/friend join me? You’re welcome to share your room and all meals and non-workshop activities with a friend or loved one at no charge. Only paying participants will be able to join the workshop activities. With all there is to see and do in the area, there will be plenty to occupy any non-participating guest during workshop hours.

Will there be time for sightseeing? Each day will be pretty full, but there will be a little down time too. And no workshop activity is required. Due to the length of the day in early June, most mornings (after the sunrise shoot) will be open.

Will I need to rent a car? While not required, a car will give you the most mobility and flexibility. We do not provide shuttle service to and from the airport - participants are required to make their own arrangements.

Can I carpool with another workshop participant? Any carpooling needs to be arranged by the carpoolers themselves. Can I share a room with another participant? You’re welcome to share a room with another workshop participant, but we’re not able to arrange that for you.

Will accommodations be made for people with mobility limitations? The host hotel offers full handicapped access in accordance with Utah law. Many of the locations we’ll photograph are close enough to parking that very little mobility will be necessary. We’ll do our best to offer alternatives.

Liability Disclaimer: Due to the inherent nature of outdoor photography, participants agree to join the workshop at their own risk. We will never lead you to an area that is dangerous, and certainly, we need to know if you don't feel comfortable at any time.


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