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Full Moon Valley of Fire Landscape Workshop

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Full Moon Valley of Fire Landscape Workshop: March 24-27th, 2024.  $1895 Per Person (includes 3 nights at hotel)

We are happy to announce a new workshop experience near Las Vegas next year.  The Valley of Fire is a Nevada state park that offers some of the most picturesque Western landscapes I've ever seen.  I feel strongly that for photographers, this area is similar but better than Joshua Tree, Arches, and even Death Valley because of the color of the landscape.  It's such a warm red that everything glows, no matter what time of day it is.  The access inside the park is what sets it truly apart from the national parks.  There are many roads, in and out and around the park.  What this means is that you can actually follow the light throughout each day.

The dates are March 24-27th, 2024, which is a Sunday through Wednesday.  That Monday, the 25th, is a full moon.  Imagine shooting moonrise in a landscape like this!  We will gather as a group for the first time Thursday night the 24th for a meet and greet at a restaurant about an hour from the VOF.  There we will get a chance to introduce ourselves to each other and share what we hope to gain from the weekend experience.  Patrick will give each participant a printed schedule as well as some helpful shooting tips for the VOF.  We will also be doing daily texts with the schedule too, complete with google map locations, etc…

Our center of operations will be at the North Shore Inn at Lake Mead.  The location of the hotel is just 30 minutes drive from the entrance to the VOF, which is really important as we will be getting up early every morning to go out for sunrise.  There are only 15 rooms available for our workshop which is key as we will be going in and out of the park every day twice a day for both sunrise and sunset.  This hotel is the closest one to the park entrance.

Our schedule will be dictated by the times of sunrise and sunset each day.  At that time of year, sunrise will be at 6:33am so we will be leaving the hotel at 5:30am each day.  We will shoot for a couple of hours, working the light as the sun rises.  By about 9am, the early morning light drama is mostly done and we will head back to the hotel for a rest.  We will have class every day in the conference room of the hotel from 1-3pm.  Here, PM-R & Alex will lecture and offer examples of his work in the VOF, give tips for camera settings, and then starting Friday afternoon, we will begin doing participant image critiques.

Here is a likely schedule that is subject to change for various needs:

Sunday Mar. 24th

3p                   Check into hotel

4:30p-6:45p    Sunset (6:55p) in VOF

7:30-9p           Evening gathering over dinner at La Fonda Mexican Restaurant 

Monday Mar. 25th This is the Full Moon Day!!!

5:30a           Depart Hotel for VOF & stage for sunrise (6:33a), then move around location PM-R will be with group and offering hands on help and assistance.

9:00a           Return to hotel for rest/breakfast & lunch on your own                                             

This is also your editing time for the afternoon critique session

1:00-3p        Class & Image review/critique

3:30p          Return to VOF for sunset image capture set

6:55p          Sunset (twilight ends at 5:51p

6:30p          Return to hotel

Tues. Mar. 26    

5:30a           Depart Hotel for VOF & stage for sunrise, then move around location                                               

PM-R & Alex will be with group and offering hands on help and assistance.

8:30a           Return to hotel for rest/breakfast & lunch on your own

1:00-3p        Class & Image review/critique

3:30p           Return to VOF for sunset image capture set

6:55p           Sunset (twilight ends at 5:51p)

6:00p           Workshop Group Photo location TBA

7:30p           Return to hotel

8:00p           Pizza & beer on pm-r at BreakfastLunchPizza here 

Wed. Mar. 27,    

5:30a           [Optional] final visit for sunrise in VOF

9:00a           Final Image review & awards  

11:30a           fCheckout and head home


The workshop experience will get each participant the chance to shoot in the Valley of Fire 5-6 different times when the light is absolutely at its best.  Shooting landscapes here is easy.  Everywhere you look there is something beautiful to capture, but the very best light of the day is fleeting, and if you are not ready for sudden and fast changes, you can easily miss the shot.

Each time we head out, I'll set a different location inside the park that will be a good place to start when the sun rises  Once you get the image you want, it's off to the races!  The light  comes up fast and we need to move as much as possible and capture everything we can in that area for about 1.5 hours.  The lower the sun is, the more drama is there, the higher it gets in the sky, the less drama.  There are many different areas inside VOF to pick from.  It's a target rich environment.  We will shoot & move, shoot, & move.  I'm using both lenses and changing them out as needed.  It's a gas and time goes fast.  

I love the Valley of Fire. It's one of the best kept secrets in the State of Nevada, if not the West.  If you are a fan of old Westerns, check out the film, "The Professionals," shot here in the Valley of Fire in 1966.  I watched it while I was out there and recognized many of the landscapes I'd been shooting in last September.  The film stars Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Woody Strode, Robert Ryan, and Jack Palance.  Some remains of the movie set are still here and, of course, the slot canyon where the climax of the film took place.  Perhaps we will watch the movie one night at the hotel?

This is truly a magical place and I know I'll be coming back here every chance I get from now on.  Every sunset and sunrise offers a new opportunity to make amazing photographs here.  It's a tremendous target rich environment that always offers a rich pay-off even if you come up empty 50 miles away in the casinos.

Night-time temps at the VOF will be in the mid-40's with highs reaching the mid-60's in March.  We will see the low temps for sure early each morning but afternoons should be mild by comparison.  Please dress accordingly.  Layers always work best so plan to bring a jacket that you can open or take off as the temps rise.  I strongly recommend a Merrill type boot, something that covers your ankles but is also lightweight.  We will be able to park in various parking lots spread out throughout the VOF and there are restrooms (rustic with no water available) strategically placed on the roads.   But even though this will be a car-based experience, you will need to be able to walk on sand, uneven terrain, and over a lot of rock outcroppings.  I was really glad I brought my high-top Merrills and they were perfect for the terrain as they give extra support for your ankles should you start dancing "the twist." Jeans are perfect for the desert, just ask any cowboy. 

There are a couple areas in particular like Fire Wave (slot canyon hike 1.5 miles in and out with elevation gain), Mouse's Tank, and Fire Canyon Road will make you want to find a path to walk down from the overlook to see more of the massive canyon/Silica Dome.  If you don't want to hike you certainly don't have to and the pull-off parking areas are a great places to shoot from if you'd rather not get off the tarmac.

Water is key ion the desert, even when it's cold.  If you are from where everything is green all the time like I am, you cannot drink enough water out here.  Dehydration can sneak up on you.  "Dang, I never get headaches..."  I will be supplying you with Gatorade or water each time we leave the hotel to keep your electrolytes up.  Adding water to that is a mixture that will ensure you stay good to go as we crawl around in search of the perfect angles every day.

As I write this in Las Vegas after spending the week in the VOF, a couple of big shows are getting cancelled due to Covid outbreaks here.  March is a long ways away but let it suffice to say that if you show up to this workshop you need to be feeling good in all aspects.  In the days leading up to your departure for coming into Las Vegas, if you feel bad, have the sniffles or a cold, you need to take a COVID test BEFORE you fly.  We are all adults so please make the best decision for your own health as well as for the rest of the group.  If you have any questions about this, contact me.

My role with all of you during the workshop is the facilitate your having a good time, help you with any questions you might have about your gear, exposure information, and about photography in general.  I will have a camera and I hope to make some photos while I'm with you but my priority will be the participants.  I shot there for a whole week last September so I'd be ready to help any of you during the workshop.

Tuition for the Full Moon Valley of Fire Workshop is $1895 per person.  If you have a spouse that wants to come along on our outings but not shoot, we can offer a $350 discount as long as you share a room ($1545).  Same goes if you and a buddy want to share a room.  Tuition covers our welcome dinner at La Fonda as well as Pizza night at CABLP and three days worth of entrance fees into the Valley of Fire.  Airfare in and out of Las Vegas and ground transportation, & lunch every day are up to each participant.  My plan is to carpool once we are there.  I'll get a small van for myself so if there are any participants that have issues driving after dark, I'm your man.  Otherwise, we can car-pool and keep the vehicle numbers down.  Last, when we get closer to the date, I will put up a facebook page that is specific to our workshop so we can get to know each other in advance and hopefully some of you can share car rental costs.


Patrick Murphy-Racey: Patrick Murphy-Racey has a storied career that spans his Photojournalism degree from Marquette University, his work for five newspapers over a seven year period, then 12 years working for Sports Illustrated, followed by a long career as a freelance photographer and videographer.  While PM-R still shoots still photography and video assignments for many different kinds of clients, he concentrates on education.  PM-R has made a living solely through making pictures for the last 38 years.  Murphy-Racey has an active YouTube Channel, “PM-R TV”, where he drops educational videos a few times each week.  PM-R loves to teach other photographers who are hungry for new knowledge and new experiences.  He loves to ride motorcycles on long trips, especially out West.

 Alex Kent: Alex Kent has had a passion for photography for well over two decades. His photographic interests are broad ranging from travel, adventure, and nature to architecture, abstract, and portraiture. With over 17 years of professional teaching experience across a broad range of demographics he brings an approachable methodology to his presentations. He’s an avid outdoorsman and child-at-heart, so you may find him on the edge of a cliff, submerged chest deep in water, or even climbing a tree to “get the shot”. Alex currently serves as President of the Arkansas Outdoor Photographer's Club (AOPC) and works as a commercial photographer, educator, speaker, and guide. You can view his work and more at

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