Star Trails and Light Painting Workshop - Two Day Workshop

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Price: $200.00

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Star Trails and Light Painting 2-Day Workshop by Ken Lee

Two days: July 5th and 6th, 2014.
Hours for both days: 2 pm-7:30 pm indoor workshop; one hour break for dinner, then 8:30 pm -midnight photography in the field. Participants may stay out longer to photograph the Milky Way.

Fee: $200 for both days (due May 20th; see below for details; limited to the first ten participants who pay).

All places to stay are within several minutes of the indoor workshop site. Here is a list of where to stay in Borrego Springs:


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 both through single exposure and by stacking
- 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!)
- “Light paint” foreground objects with inexpensive flashlights and other light sources
- Learn some techniques for photographing the Milky Way

This 2-day workshop is geared toward digital photographers who know how to use the basic functions of their camera, understand ISO, aperture, and exposure length, and have had some experience focusing in the dark and taking night sky photos previously. We will also discuss composition, equipment, and photographing the Milky Way, although this is not the main focus of the workshop. And if people wish, they may stay out past midnight to photograph the Milky Way, as the moon will have set at approximately 12:21 am, providing good opportunity to photograph the Milky Way, which is why we've chosen these dates. There is no hiking involved.

What to bring:

Something to take notes on. Whether this is pen and paper, a laptop, tablet, or using a Sharpie on your forearm, bring something to take notes!

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 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. Although there is no hiking, 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 indoors 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's the desert, after all, and whether blazing hot or cold, 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, and there is no hiking involved.

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. Some will suck. That's okay. And also remember, we are dependent on the weather. It might be super hot or windy or cloudy or hazy. We don't know. So be flexible and have fun.


In a later email sent to everyone who has paid, I will send a 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. I will be using Photoshop CS4 and StarStax to demonstrate techniques. StarStax is a free download for Mac, PC, or Linux. If you cannot bring a laptop or do not have the software, don't worry. Just bring something to take notes and you will be fine.

- USB thumb drive

- LED flashlights

- Electroluminescent wire

- colored gels for their flashlights or speedlights

- snoots

- speedlight

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

- UV filter (for protection of lens primarily)

- hot shoe bubble level

- camera user manual

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

- ice chest for drinks or food if you wish

- gaffer's tape for emergencies (taping the focus ring of your lens down or broken tripods or remote shutter releases or who knows what else)

Borrego Springs, CA has been designated 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. These sculptures 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 2-day workshop is $200. Deadline for payment is May 20th. Workshop may be canceled if less than five participants have paid by May 20th (sorry, but thanks for understanding). Workshop limited to first ten who pay.

Participants must understand that your yes RSVP in participating in any NPL event, that you agree that NPL, Organizers, Members, and Event Host are NOT responsible for your safety or for any injury or damages to your person/property, or that of your guest(s).You have agreed that you have read all the instructions of the meetup event and you assume all the risks of participant in this event.

Upon payment, students will receive an enrollment confirmation. We will meet at 2 pm indoors to learn about techniques for shooting star trails and light painting. The workshop will go until 7:30 pm, after which we go into the magnificent desert at a location about five minutes from the workshop site 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 and 2014 Photography Contest Finalist by Smithsonian, and more. He has donated some of his travel photos to charitable causes and fundraising.