Paul's Colorado Photography | night workshop May 2018 detail





Night Skies of Western Colorado Photography Workshop
Paul Gana hosting
May 14th - 18th 2018
$800 ($300 due at time of registration) Remaining Due by April 15th, 2018

Only 10 slots will be made available




The dramatic Milky Way set against some of the nations most spectacular scenery.




Why am I limiting it to only 10? I want to maximize the one-on-one training and education and tailor it to each individual. Very large groups make it nearly impossible to do so. This is for you to get out and learn and shoot something that very few people in the world ever get to see and I want that experience to be a positive one. Also note that the workshop will be conducted in more than one place, so be prepared for some traveling, all areas will be limited to western Colorado so traveling distances are minimal, no more than 2 hours from each point.

Thanks to Jeff Morse for this photo from my most recent 2017 workshop

Day 1, May 14th:

we will be going over your camera (please bring your manual if you have one, you can download one off of the internet) this will be held before noon. A DSLR or Digital SLR capable of fully manual settings is required for this. I do really urge the importance of already having a basic understanding of how your camera works, this workshop is intended for those who know the basics of photography with a DSLR (or mirrorless cameras if you prefer them) but do not understand the little ins and outs of it to maximize the success of shooting the night sky, I will also go over some great websites and software/apps for preshoot planning. Below I will include several PDFs of what to expect from me and what I expect of everyone attending to make the workshop successful for everyone. To maximize in field shooting times this class will be no more than 2 hours in length. Tentatively this will be held at the Historic School House in Battlement Mesa, it is part of the Grand Valley Historical Society, I will include maps and addresses for each location visited



Immediately after the in-class session we will head to Vega State Park near Grand Junction for some star trails, the two above photos are example of star trails from the same location. Very early the following morning we will be starting on the Milky Way. The Milky Way is visible in the extreme early hours of the morning in spring (between 2 and 3 am) so expect some sleep deprivation on this workshop =). This will begin day 2 of the workshop.



Day 2, May 15th:

This is the official New Moon for the month.This will be the first attempt at shooting the Milky Way we will be utilizing the fishing pier at the park and other items we can find, there is a boat dock not too far from the pier so we might find some boats in the water, we will also try our hands at some light painting on the pier. If the water is calm enough we might be able to capture the reflection of the Milky Way in the water. The photos above show two locations at the park during the same time period.  After the Milky Way everyone will have the option to shoot the sunrise or go back to their motel or campsite for some rest. There is numerous campgrounds and some lodging right on the lake and which should be quite empty this early on in the year. Later that morning (like I said, there will be sleep deprivation) we will critique our photos taken, we won't do any editing just yet, that won't be for the following day, but we can still critique our photos in camera. Our next meeting place will be later that evening at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park which is a designated International Dark Sky Place. For more on the fabulous organization promoting the preservation of dark skies go to their website. Black Canyon National Park network  is one of the deepest and narrowest canyons anywhere. What helps us in this setting is the north-south running of the canyon making for some great leading lines. Areas of the canyon are also known for it's unique rock features on the canyon wall which will make for some interesting foreground elements it is also a spectacular sunrise/sunset location. Again the first night we will try our hands at star trails and in the morning we will shoot the Milky Way. Because of the way the canyon runs star trails might be somewhat of a challenge, I hope everyone is up for a good challenge



Day 3, May 16th:

In the morning we will meet at the same location as the previous night (I will include maps as well as addresses to specific locations). Black Canyon is not much more than 10 miles outside of Montrose, again there is lodging in Montrose as well as nearby Delta and camping all throughout the region including within the park. This is a National Park, even though it is small in area, it still packs a whallop in recreational opportunities. We will be working solely on the South rim of the canyon for consistency and minimal traveling. Due to the nature of the canyon and the position of the Milky Way in the sky this time of year, we will try our hands at doing panoramics, lots of lightpainting of the many Pinyon and Juniper trees on the rim is on the menu as well. If everyone is interested we will attempt to shoot the Painted Wall on the northern end of the canyon. The Painted Wall is behind the tallest cliff in Colorado at over 3,000 feet high

Milky Way Panoramics are quite the challenge yet produce stellar art pieces. This photo shows airglow at Vega State Park

The Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison


Later on in the day we will learn basic RAW editing in both Lightroom and ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) found in Photoshop. We will also learn how to create the panoramics in dedicated software as well as Lightroom's panoramic feature. If you have a Laptop or tablet with Lightroom and Photoshop make sure you have them with you during this time period.


Now that we got that done, should be only a couple of hours going over the RAW editing and building a panoramic, we will rush on over (or mosey on over, however you prefer to travel) to McClure Pass. McClure Pass is near Paonia and Marble in the West Elk Mountains. Here we can shoot sunset at a very spectacular overlook, or if everyone prefers we can shoot sunset at Beaver Lake in Marble just below the pass. Star trails are possible at Beaver Lake but less so at McClure Pass, either way the scenery alone is worth it

Autumn shot at McClure Pass. The mountain on the left (Sheep Mountain) is immediately above Beaver Lake

Beaver Lake in a late April snowstorm. Snow can occur with regularity well into the late spring and early summer here. The peak on the right is part of Sheep Mountain




Day 4, May 17th:

The Milky Way above the mountains as seen from McClure Pass


Not much to actually say about this morning other than what the photo above already tells you. Like the ole saying goes, "A picture is worth a 1000 words". At this point the Workshop will be less intense with no traveling, it will be devoted to improving the photographic skills and mastering the techniques. We will remain in this region until the following day when we head back to our original starting point. I will be providing a large picnic in Redstone, about 10 miles south of Marble, during the day and we can all relax and socialize and share what we have learned and experienced I will also take the time to answer any questions and help anyone who is struggling more in depth. A little exploring in the region is also on the table. We will reconvene at Beaver Lake in Marble for sunset.




Day 5, May 18th:

This is the Grand Finally of the workshop and again shoot up at McClure Pass. This time around I will teach more advanced shooting techniques including taking multiple photos of the same scene involving the Milky Way and then later on stacking them in Photoshop , plus I will teach you how to merge that same Milky Way scene with a photo of the foreground taken a little later when it is a little bit lighter (so as to have detail in the foreground). This will be a 3 part process between Lightroom and Photoshop.

Once it gets light we will head back to our original starting point on Day 1 for the final class session. This will be the final and full workflow of editing the photos from Lightroom and Photoshop, it will be intensive, but we will take our time.

That evening we will have a dinner where I will display a slideshow of everyone's favorite photos from the 5 days of shooting. After the dinner I will send everyone on their way to do as they please



This workshop will be a very intense workshop, we will be doing a lot of traveling and shooting. We will be shooting until late and starting again very early in the morning, it is something that I do all the time and am accustomed to, but you may not be accustomed to it. With that in mind the first few days will have little social events and will be strictly involving the education aspect of the workshop. There are many restaurants and bars in the region (Colorado is a craft beer mecca) if you choose to patronize them, but I really discourage it and I myself will not be participating. However with that in mind, I really intend to make it as enjoyable as possible while still giving everyone a once in a lifetime learning experience. Remember you are out with 10 other people (including the instructor) seeing and photographing something first hand that most people in the world never get to see, that alone should be all the fun and adventure needed.


The workshop will also be held in May, in most regions in the US it is warm and green, but in Colorado it is a huge transitional period where you can have 3 seasons in one afternoon. It can be hot during the day but drop to near freezing or even below freezing at night, but this also makes it a magical experience. We will be traveling from semi-desert and desert to sub-alpine environments in this 5 day period. You will see desert sand, grass, and snow, perhaps all on the same day. Now how much more fun can that be?

With that in mind please come prepared for changing weather, if you are from a warmer climate don't think that you won't need a jacket, believe me you will, I can't stress this enough. Plus don't forget about the elevations, we will be traveling anywhere from 4,600 to 8,700 feet in elevation

Desert Snow at 4600 feet in elevation



There is a minimum of a $300 deposit before registering



After paying the deposit it will take you to the official registration page to complete the registration for the workshop. The remaining balance is due no later than 6 weeks before the start of the workshop


If paying full amount up front you will be given a 10% discount

Full Amount with 10% discount

After paying the full amount it will take you to the official registration page to complete the registration process for the workshop



The remaining balance is for those who paid the deposit and is due no later than 6 weeks prior to the start of the workshop

Remaining Balance (Only for those who paid the $300 Deposit)




Please download and read all forms


Them Rules

Directions to each location

What to Bring Basics