2009 Needles / Canyonlands Back-country Photo Workshop

2009 Needles / Canyonlands Backcountry Photo Workshop with Moab Photo Tours

4-7 May 2009

Special Guest Instructor Tom Till

The Moab Photo Tours 2009 Needles / Canyonlands Back-country Workshop will be 4 days/3 nights, Monday-Thursday, May 4-7, 2009. The Needles is a beautiful but very rugged and relatively inaccessible section of Canyonlands National Park, characterized by many red sandstone spires which give the area it’s name, along with arches and Native American rock art. It is accessible only by serious 4WD or by long hikes. Our Workshop will provide that serious 4WD access. It should also be prime wildflower/cactus blossom time then as well at this time of year. We’ll be approaching a full moon during the Workshop, so we should have some sunsets with the moon in the image. Additionally, we can do some moon-lit night landscapes with light painting. World famous landscape photographer, Tom Till, will be our guest instructor along with Moab Photo Tours owner, Jon Fuller, on this workshop. You can see some of Tom’s outstanding photography at www.tomtill.com.

Day 1: The current proposed itinerary has us leaving Moab by 8am on the first day. We’ll head out for the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, which takes about 1.5 hours to initially reach, stopping to photograph Newspaper Rock (a famous petroglyph panel) on the way in. We will spend the rest of the day exploring remote Lavender Canyon, with its arches, prehistoric ruins, and beautiful varnish-patterned walls. We’ll spend the first night in one of the group campgrounds near the entrance to the park.

Day 2: For sunrise, we’ll photograph the Six Shooters Peaks before going into the main section of the Needles District. We’ll go in over the infamous Elephant Hill 4WD trail into to the Devil’s Kitchen and shoot sunset there. We camp at the Devil’s Kitchen, and shoot sunrise there the next morning.

Day 3: After the sunrise shoot and breakfast, we load up and move on toward the Chesler Park area, stopping to photograph Indian rock art pictographs on the way. Before lunch we’ll hike up the narrow Joint Trail into Chesler Park. If possible, we will come out of the park through the south and into Beef Basin, photographing Indian ruins on the way out and camp the last night at the Big Pocket Overlook on Cathedral Point. Sunrise at the Big Pocket Overlook is a spectacular image. If the south road out of the park is impassable, and it often is, then we would come back out over Elephant Hill, and drive to Cathedral Point from the other direction.

Day 4: We’ll be back late afternoon of the fourth day. I’m counting on getting at least 3 sunrises and 3 sunsets, with some night photography thrown in while we’re camping. All in all it should be a great trip. The outfitter will provide three 4WD vehicles with experienced 4WD drivers, (who will also be our cooks), and the sleeping bags and tents, etc. This is primitive camping, with pit toilets (outhouses) available at most of our camp sites, but no showers. The old outfitter’s trick is to bring Wet Wipes with which to take a spit bath every evening. It works great and takes the worry out of being close!

Cost for the Needles Backcountry Workshop is $1595 per person, and includes 4WD transportation from Moab, through the Needles and back to Moab, park entrance fees, camping gear, and all meals from departure until return. It also includes personalized photography instruction. Gratuities for the driver/outfitter guides (which is usually 10-15% and makes up a major part of their income) are not included in the cost of the workshop. The workshop fee also does not cover the cost of transportation to and from Moab nor any lodging or meals before or after the workshop.

Additionally, the Moab Photography Symposium is also being held on April 30-May 3 in Moab immediately prior to the Needles Backcountry Workshop, and is a great event to attend to maximize your visit while here. The final cost for this symposium has not yet been published by the organizer, but will probably be in the $100 range for the four days, with extra charges for some individual workshops. The website for the 2008 symposium is www.moabphotosym.com. The updated website for the 2009 Symposium should be up before too long, but no firm date from the organizer for that yet.

We have room for a total of 9 photographers in the Needles Workshop, with myself and Tom Till as other photo guide to accompany us, in addition to our three driver/outfitter guides. For images of last year’s Needles Workshop, go to www.moabphototours.com/ and go to the Workshop Album on the Gallery Page. If you are interested in this workshop, contact me by email at jon@moabphototours.com to reserve a spot.

This 2009 Workshop is sold out. Last year’s workshop sold out in only three days. If you would like to reserve a space for the 2010 Workshop, contact me at jon@moabphototours.com.

Great 2008! What’s New for 2009?

2008 was a great year for Moab Photo Tours. We added many new clients this year, got to work with many returning clients again, and helped lots of people get some really great images of this area. Feedback from a number of this year’s clients indicated that they had won various photo competitions with images made on our tours. We were also able to help a number of people advance their photo skills to the next level as well. I personally had a full-page image published in the Showcase section of the May issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine, in addition to other publication credits through the year.

Chris Conrad, who was originally on the website as a guide, has moved on to other things, and we wish Chris well in his new endeavors. Replacing him is Dan Norris, a long-time Moab photographer and owner of Canyon Color Graphics. Dan has been published extensively and is a great instructor and guide. Dan functions primarily as my back-up when I am unable to do a tour, or on those occasions when we have more than one group wanting tours the same day. Dan also assisted me for our Moab Photo Tours Needles Back-country Photo Workshop in May 2008. Dan has been a good friend for the 16 years I’ve lived in Moab, and we’ve shot together a lot over the years. he is an outstanding photographer.

Moab Photo Tours is also expanding its reach outside the Moab area. I was able to take some tours down to the Cedar Mesa area, south of Moab, to photograph some very photogenic ancient native American ruins. You can see images of some of these ruins in the Cedar Mesa Album in the Gallery on the website. In November, I traveled to Panama and Costa Rica for a 3-week photo scouting trip to explore the possibility of taking photo tours to these two countries. Since I once lived in Panama for 3 years, I was already quite familiar with the area. I have done quite a bit of travel and photography throughout Latin America over the years, and love the photo opportunities to be had south of our borders. I had a great trip, coming home with 3200+ images to edit, and making some good contacts in the travel industry in both places. Panama and Costa Rica, while being neighbors, are quite different photographically. Costa Rica is primarily spectacular nature photography, while Panama has not only great rain forest photography similar to Costa Rica’s, but also old Spanish ruins, very photogenic indigenous tribes, French colonial architecture, and the Panama Canal itself. Keep an eye on future blog entries for details on these trips. I will be adding Albums in the Gallery for both these locations in the (near?) future.

Also upcoming for 2009 will be the addition of a Shopping Cart on the website. This will allow anyone to order a print of any image of mine that they see on the website. This applies only to my images, and not images in the Clients Gallery. (The images in the Clients Gallery do not belong to me, and I do not physically possess file sizes large enough to make prints even for the photographers who do own these images.)

We will be repeating the Needles/Canyonlands Back-country Workshop in May this year, expanding it to 4 days instead of three. We will have a surprise announcement concerning that workshop soon, so stay tuned. More on this upcoming workshop in a future blog. If you are interested in this workshop, please email me at info@moabphototours.com as soon as possible and I’ll send you more information. We actually only have two spaces still available, and the advertising in Outdoor Photographer has not even come out yet.

Stay tuned for more information. Best wishes for 2009, and Happy Shooting!