Monument Valley FAQ's - Don Smith Photography

What’s the closest airport? Kayenta Airport is a public use airport located 2.3 miles southeast of the central business district of Kayenta, in Navajo County, Arizona. Page Airport is 1 mile east of Page, in Coconino County, Arizona. It is about a 2 hour drive to Monument Valley. Flagstaff. Flagstaff Pulliam Airport is 5 miles south of Flagstaff, in Coconino County, Arizona. It is about a 2 hour 45 minute drive to Monument Valley. Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is a 5 hour drive to Monument Valley and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas is a 6 hour drive. Please consider arriving a day early as this is a winter workshop and weather can delay your travel plans.

What Hotel Will We Be Using?: Goulding's Lodge in Monument Valley, Utah.

How much time will be spent in the field? I will have you on location 30 minutes prior to sunrise and up to 30 minutes after sunset. Depending on weather, we will add secondary shoots on both ends of the day (optional). There will be one evening for star photography.  We will also have two full days working with models who will dress in full Native American gear.

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 12:00 pm), followed by a sunset shoot. Class times will be announced at the workshop.

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

Will the latest software be discussed? Yes, both Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC will be shown as part of workflow demonstrations along with some of the instructors favorite third-party filters.

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

When do we eat? We tend to eat as a group at the hotel's dining room, but this is not mandatory. I advise bringing snacks and drinks with you on location.Meals are not included in the price of the workshop.

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

What’s the weather like? Typical weather for early December is a high of 42 degrees and a low of 25 degrees. With some luck, we could have a chance for a bit of snow!

What camera should I bring? Most participants will have a digital SLR's and Mirrorless, 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.

How far will we be walking? Not much - we will be shooting many of our locations from inside the Valley where our guide and driver will get us very close to the shooting locations.

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. A variable neutral density filter can be useful for motion blur with water, but is nor required.

Is a tripod required? While not required, a tripod will greatly enhance your opportunities and your images.

Will I need a laptop? No but they are helpful for loading and sorting your images. 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? 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. We recently re-instituted a spousal non-shooting rate. Please contact me for more details: don@donsmithphotography.com

Headlamps or flashlights are recommended as we will be hiking in the dark at times.

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.

Will I need to rent a car? Each participant is required to arrange their own transportation to and from the workshop.

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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