Star Trails and Light Painting Workshop

This is a past event

12 people went

Location image of event venue


RSVPs are now closed for this workshop because the workshop is full. If you have paid but are not on the RSVP list, contact me. If you have RSVP'd and not paid, sorry, I don't think we can accept any more people as I had originally intended on keeping the number to eight as it is. There may be one person in this category. However, Randy and I are already discussing the possibility of another star trails and light painting workshop later. -Ken


Star Trails and Light Painting Workshop by Ken Lee
April 5,[masked]pm-midnight (1 hour break for breaking down equipment and eating before heading out to the field)
Fee: $100 (due March 5th; see below for details).

Photography during the day can be challenging; photography in the dark can be even trickier. But you can do it. Join a group of other like-minded photography enthusiasts and learn how to make eye-popping star trail and light-painting photos in a fun, no-pressure, easy to follow environment.

Examples of some photos using the techniques of star trails and light painting that will be taught can be seen here:

In this workshop, you’ll learn how to:

- Create star trails
- “Light paint” foreground objects with inexpensive flashlights and other light sources
- Photograph numerous images in succession out in the field and then demonstrate stack those images using Photoshop and StarStax to create magnificent nighttime images (bring something to write notes on...and you may bring a laptop or whatever loaded with Photoshop and/or StarStax!)

This workshop is geared toward digital photographers who know how to use the basic functions of their camera.

What to bring:

Your DSLR camera. If you have two bodies, bring both. The camera must have Manual Control and Bulb Mode. You should be familiar with using the camera, particularly since you are going to be physically adjusting it and altering your settings in the dark.

A remote shutter release control. This can be wired or not wired, although wired is probably more reliable. You need this to be able to shoot without physically touching the shutter button, which can introduce vibrations, not good for your images. And you may also want to lock down your shutter for longer exposures or for stacking to create star trails.

Lenses. Wide angle lens are often preferred for night sky photography, but feel free to bring a range of lenses.

Lens Cleaner or Lens Pen. Things get dusty and smudgy.

Tripod. The sturdier, the better.

Extra batteries. Try to bring at least 1-2 extra batteries. Leaving the shutter open for long periods of time can drain the battery quickly. Extra memory cards. You may burn through a lot of memory, particularly if you are stacking photos to create star trails or light paint and shooting in RAW.

Layers of clothing and sturdy shoes. Dress in layers that you can add if night temperatures become cold, which I would count on. Wear good, comfortable walking shoes. I do not recommend wearing sandals. After all, you are walking around at night, so good shoes, even boots, are better.

Dinner. Bring your own dinner, and bring snacks with you. Or bring money so you can purchase dinner between the workshop class and when we are heading out to photograph at night.

Headlamp. This should include a red light (you can wrap this with red cellophane). This is considerably less invasive to others than white lights, and also doesn't "blow out" your eyes at night, requiring that your eyes have to readjust to see at night better.

Water. It may be cooler at night, but it's still the desert, and you will still need to keep hydrated. Bring water in your pack, and keep extra water in your car. We will not be far from the car.

Your sense of fun and flexibility. Night shots require some trial and error, multiple attempts, and, particularly with light painting, a lot of experimentation. Not all your photos will come out well. That's okay. And also remember, we are dependent on the weather. It might be cold or windy or cloudy or hazy. We don't know. So be flexible and have fun.


Please refer to the Resources Attachment for links to many of these things!

- Laptop or tablet. If you can bring a laptop, consider loading StarStax and Photoshop onto it if you want to practice or refer to it. Otherwise, simply relax and take notes. Either way, you're good!

- USB thumb drive

- LED flashlights

- LED head lamp with red light

- gels

- snoots

- speedlights

- lens hood (for protection or for keeping unwanted light out of lens)

- UV filter (for protection of lens primarily)

- hot shoe bubble level

- camera user manual

- something to sit on (folding chairs, an ice chest you can sit on, whatever)

- ice chest for drinks or food if you wish

Borrego Springs, CA has been desginated an International Dark Sky Community by IDA (International Dark-Sky Association), recognizing the exceptional commitment of Borrego Springs to dark sky protection and restoration throughout the community. Additionally, there are over 129 amazing metal sculptures created by artist Ricardo Breceda, which can make outstanding foreground subjects for photographers interested in light painting while photographing the night sky.

To Pay: ( and look for the Star Trails and Light Painting Workshop link at the lower bottom left corner of the page. The workshop is $100. Deadline for payment is March 5. Workshop may be canceled if less than three participants have paid by March 5th (sorry, but thanks for understanding). Workshop limited to first eight who pay.

Upon payment, students will receive an enrollment confirmation. We will meet at 4pm to learn about techniques for shooting star trails and light painting. The workshop will go until 7, later if necessary, after which we go into the field and practice what we have learned.

Ken Lee is a noted night sky photographer who has won the Los Angeles Times Editor's Choice for Summer Photos 2013 and previous years, had a photo chosen by National Geographic editors for the Daily Dozen in the Nat Geo website, won a contest from Lonely Planet Guidebooks, one of a hundred photos chosen from over 130,000 photo submissions, had several photos chosen as Editor's Pick Of The Week by Smithsonian, and more.