General Overview & Itinerary Information
Please read our Mission Statement for info regarding Mike's teaching style.
After reading through these basic guidelines please visit the 2020 Workshop Dates & Locations page for specific workshop offerings.
Taylor Photography has all necessary permits & insurance and Mike is certified in first aid & CPR.
These small group night photography workshops are designed to be technically informative, casual and most of all fun. Our goal in teaching these courses is to share everything we know about shooting the night sky so that you can capture images that feature the Milky Way, stars and constellations, cloud formations, meteors, etc. while also incorporating important landscape elements. Although we cannot promise that you’ll get to see the Northern Lights (although there’s always that chance!), we can guarantee you that the in the field instruction, assistance and technical expertise that you will learn are the elements of night photography that you will retain and take with you on your next adventure.
Mike will teach you the essential tips, tricks, light-painting techniques and composition ideas that will take your stargazing photography to the next level, all provided in a casual manner with a humble sense of humor. Mike also teaches advanced night photography skills including time lapse, star trails, panoramas, and exposure blending techniques for intermediate to advanced astrophotographers.
While no knowledge of night photography techniques is required for these workshops, please understand these are not Photo 101 classes - you should have a decent working knowledge of your camera gear and how the Exposure Triangle (aperture, shutter speed & ISO) works. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. Thanks.
Dates & locations:
These workshops have been planned around the New Moon dates. New Moon refers to the cycle when the moon is not present which leads to darker skies and the best chance to see the Milky Way, constellations, and the other impressive sky features mentioned above. Multi-night workshops with processing sessions are available as well as one night workshops. One night workshops have been scheduled with two dates in mind so that we can pick the best night according to the local weather forecast. Check out our 2020 Workshop Dates & Locations page for specific workshop offerings. If you prefer Private 1-on-1 instruction we can do that as well - simply contact us for rates and schedules. Although we are based in Maine, Mike is available to accommodate anyone who wants instruction in the US or anywhere else provided our schedules coincide and his travel and lodging expenses will be covered.
Mike is also open to teaching a course using moonlight as a tool for foreground lighting or if you want to capture shots involving the moon - as always, simply contact us for scheduling.
Multi-Night Workshops: Itineraries for In The Field shooting and Classroom Instruction times are listed on each workshop page. We will try to keep to the scheduled times as much as possible but we are flexible when it comes to planning around weather and the needs of our participants.
One night workshops: We will spend 2-3 hours during our meet-and-greet and 4-6 hours photographing in the field for a total workshop time of approximately 8 hours. Please also see the Weather section below.
Each workshop has different photographing times and those times are listed under each specific workshop page. Whether it's a Multi-Night or One Night workshop, we’ll arrive at a predetermined spot for a meet-and-greet and to review camera settings & other pre-shoot details to ensure everyone is informed and ready to get the best shots possible of the night sky. We’ll discuss the “how-to’s” of setting up your gear for awesome night shots by incorporating important landscape characteristics as well as the night sky features. We’ll talk about how/when these features move through the sky during our shoot and how to capture them via still photography and by using star trails & time lapse techniques. We’ll discuss the Exposure Triangle (aperture, shutter speed & ISO) and how night photography differs from most other genres, focusing your lens at night, white balance settings, how and when to use in-camera noise reduction, planning for your night shoots, general astronomy including the moon, the Milky Way, Polaris & constellations, as well as information on viewing & photographing the Northern Lights.
All participants will receive a PDF covering the essentials of night photography before the workshop as well as a hard copy of the handout to go over during our meet-and-greet sessions.
While we are photographing the night sky, the instructors will take time to talk with each participant individually, answer questions, help with any troubleshooting issues that arise, suggest ways to improve your composition & lighting, and make sure that you understand the technical aspects of shooting in the dark so that you can continue your night photography adventures with confidence.
Gear & Clothing – what you need to bring with you:
● Your DSLR Camera that is capable of full manual mode including focusing and high ISO settings - full frame bodies are highly preferable (crop sensor bodies will certainly work, they are just not optimal)
● Your camera’s user manual (you should familiarize yourself with this anyway to use your camera to its fullest potential)
● Camera lens capable of f/2.8 or faster – wide angle lenses of 24mm or wider work best (although lenses capable of f/3.5 minimum speed can work they are not optimal)
● Tripod – A strong, solid tripod is an absolute necessity for night photography
● Extra camera batteries
● Extra memory cards
● Shutter release cable / wireless remote
● Warm clothes – you can always take layers off
● Decent boots/shoes
● Headlamp or flashlight with red light capability
An intervalometer (camera timer) if you are interested in capturing time lapse or star trails - most Nikon cameras have built-in intervalometers within their menus, most Canon & Sony cameras do not
Snacks/drinks/cooler - anything you want to eat or drink during the shoot
Notebook and pen for taking notes
Fold up / camping chair
Acknowledgement of Risk form:
All participants must sign an Acknowledgement of Risk form. There is quite a bit of paperwork that we need to have filled out to be able to hold a workshop including permits, certifications and insurance but this is the only paperwork that you have to sign or worry about.
Lodging, Transportation & Meals:
Participants are required to provide their own lodging, transportation & meals unless noted otherwise. We are happy to recommend some local hotels/motels or campgrounds in the areas where we will be photographing.
Shooting at night always depends on the weather — it is next to impossible to capture the features of the night sky when there is rain, heavy cloud cover or fog, etc. For one night workshops we are flexible on the dates — for instance if the weather is not cooperating on a Friday then we’ll try for Saturday, and vice versa. Ultimately we will keep to the scheduled workshop times as much as possible and go out shooting unless a safety issue arises. Even if the viewing conditions aren’t optimal we promise you will come away from our workshops with the skills listed above to capture the night sky like a pro.
All of our workshops have the investment amount listed per participant. We always offer an Alumni discount of 20% if you've taken a previous workshop with Taylor Photography. If you have a friend or significant other who would like to attend the workshop but not participate, they will still need to register as a participant by paying 50% of the investment amount and sign the required acknowledgement of risk form before we head out into the field. It is important that we have an accurate headcount for each workshop. Please contact us with any questions.
A non-refundable 50% deposit is required to reserve a spot or you may pay in full. The full balance is due 60 days before the scheduled workshop date in most cases or your reservation will be subject to cancellation.
If you have any hesitation about signing up, check out the Testimonials page where clients have shared their experiences.
Please use the PayPal buttons linked on each workshop page. If you prefer to send a check or money order simply contact us.
Cancellation / Refunds:
If you need to cancel your reservation we will be happy to reschedule your spot for a future workshop provided you contact us ASAP. If a workshop needs to be canceled for any reason, we will reschedule it as soon as possible by discussing logistics and schedules with all participants.
We always recommend that participants purchase traveler/trip insurance to safeguard your investment (airfare, hotel, tuition, etc) in the unfortunate event you are unable to attend a program due to emergency, illness or otherwise.
Mike & Sonia