Sand Dunes, Desert Mountain Landscapes, Salt Pan, and More
March 7–12, 2024
Death Valley National Park features North America’s lowest, driest, and hottest locations and is surrounded by mountains that rise to over 11,000 feet. Covering about 3,000 square miles, it’s larger than Yellowstone, yet most photography workshops barely scratch the surface of what this park has to offer.
This workshop is a unique opportunity to visit and photograph the best of Death Valley in the best light. We will be based out of a hotel that provides access to some of the best places in the park, like the Mesquite dunes, Zabriskie Point and Golden Canyon, the salt polygons of Badwater Basin, Twenty Mule Team Canyon, and more. We’ll venture down to Ibex Dunes, the impressive dune formation at the southern end of the park, which is far less crowded due to its remoteness.
We’ll have our signature image reviews and post-processing lessons in a large private room—but we won’t stop shooting! We’ll be focusing on composition, and we’ll take advantage of our time in the classroom and the field to teach composition from pre-visualization to capture and, finally, post-processing the image.
Muench Workshops is an Authorized Permittee of the National Park Service.
This itinerary is subject to change due to weather, local conditions, and other factors.
March 7, 2024: We’ll meet in Las Vegas at 11:00 AM for introductions, then drive to Death Valley, stopping for lunch and photography. After check-in at our hotel, we’ll head for sunset at Zabriskie Point. This is one of the classic views in Death Valley, looking down Golden Canyon towards Manly Beacon. Shaped by water, these yellow, brown, and red hills offer limitless compositions—both grand in scale and tighter, more abstract images. Across the valley, you’ll see Telescope Peak, which towers above the salt pan at about 11,000 feet above sea level. We’ll end the day with a hot meal.
March 8, 2024: Up early for sunrise to shoot the stunning salt formations at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the park and all of North America! The weather conditions can drastically alter this landscape. The salt can form into fascinating geometric patterns as it dries, or if there’s been enough rain, the basin can fill with water, providing excellent opportunities to shoot the reflections. After breakfast, you’ll have time to gather photos for our image review and instruction. We’ll have lunch while we work through your images, discussing composition, technique, and post-processing in detail. Sunset will be at Mesquite Dunes, another iconic location in Death Valley. The dunes are set against majestic mountain backdrops. The ripples and edges of the dunes offer a multitude of compositions. As the sun sets, through the blue hour, and into the night, the character of the dunes is ever-changing. Depending on the conditions, we may shoot the dunes under the moonlight as it highlights the ripples with the stars above.
March 9, 2024: Sunrise at 20 Mule Team Canyon. While similar to Golden Canyon, 20 Mule Team has a quality all its own, and the best time to photograph it is definitely as the soft light changes just before sunrise. The quiet beauty of this canyon is captivating.
After breakfast and some downtime, we’ll pack lunch and head for the Joshua Tree Forest of Saline Valley. Along the way, we may stop for mud cracks in Panamint Valley. We’ll also make a quick stop at Father Crowley point, where you may be able to witness a military test flight in “Star Wars Canyon.” But the highlight of the day will be the Joshua trees. This large stand of Joshua Trees offers abundant photographic opportunities. We’ll stay here through sunset and then back to the hotel for dinner.
March 10, 2024: Today we head back to Zabriskie Point, but this time to capture the light as the sun rises. This is an opportunity to explore the possibilities of this viewpoint under different lighting conditions. After breakfast and a little downtime, we’ll get a packed lunch and head down to Ibex Dunes at the far southeast corner of the park. These dunes are much more remote and less traveled than Mesquite Dunes and have a very different character. After sunset, we’ll drive back up for a late supper.
March 11, 2024: This morning is your opportunity to photograph Mesquite Dunes at sunrise. Often this is the best time to photograph them, especially if there’s been wind overnight, wiping out any lingering footprints and adding definition to the ripples and edges of the dunes. As the sun rises, the light is ever-changing, and when it finally breaks, it lights up the ripples in stark relief. We’ll enjoy a hot breakfast and some time to gather images for our next image review and instruction. Over lunch, we’ll discuss and learn from your photos during our review session. Sunset this evening will be either Cottonball Basin or a return to Badwater Basin, depending on conditions.
March 12, 2024: On our final morning, we will photograph mud cracks on the valley floor as the sun rises and then—while the light is still soft—the stunning colors in the rock formations of Artist’s Palette. After breakfast and checkout, we will drive back to Las Vegas for flights out anytime after 2:00 PM.
Moderate: You must be able to hike up to two miles over uneven ground or sand dunes with moderate elevation gain.
Arrive McCarran International Airport (LAS), Las Vegas, Nevada before 10:00 AM on March 7, 2024. Flights out can be made after 2:00 pm on March 12, 2024.
What to Bring
Please see our page How To Prepare For Your Workshop. We will send you a detailed information document 90 days before your workshop. This document will include specifics of where and when to meet, gear and clothing recommendations, and more.
- Double occupancy lodging. Single available for $900 supplement.
- All meals, soft drinks, and snacks during the workshop
- All permits and park fees
- All transportation during the workshop
- Image reviews and post-processing instruction
- Photographic guiding and instruction from 2 pros
- Travel to and from Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Passport and visa fees (if applicable).
- Any meals or accommodations before or after the workshop dates.
- Items of a personal nature.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Travel Medical and Trip Cancellation Insurance (optional, but recommended).
- Anything else specifically not listed as included.
- Single rooming available for $900 supplement.
“I wanted to really express my appreciation and joy for this past week's workshop. I learned so much, loved experiencing Talor's boundless excitement about what we were seeing, and really gained so much from talking and being around the others in our group. Also David's willingness to ask for and make mid-course corrections during the workshop as well as his patience in teaching made it a very dynamic experience. ”
“I have been on well over 30 workshops in 25 years. It is so refreshing to see that the instructors frequently don't carry a camera and really are intent on helping us get our best shots. ”