White Sands National Park, New Mexico September 4-10, 2024


Tuition: $1825
Deposit: $300
Dates:</strong/> Aug 31-Sep 6, 2024
Type of Excursion: Workshop
Skill Level: All Levels
Duration: 7 days
Group Size Min: 4 Max: 6

  • Landscape
  • Composition
  • Exploration, Personal Style, Vision & Awareness
  • Camera Operation
  • Exposure, Working with light
  • Workflow
  • Filters, Time Lapse, & Long Exposure

  • Instruction, image review & feedback
  • One-hour pre-workshop Zoom meet-n-greet & prep
  • Accommodation
  • On-site transportation
  • Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Admission to sites on itinerary and necessary permits
  • Mike’s Book: The Ecology of Photography: Senses &

  • Transportation to/from home and gateway city
    of Alamogordo, NM (pickup at El Paso by arrangement)
  • Alcoholic beverages and personal snacks
  • Personal items & expenses
  • Fees for activities not included in the itinerary
  • Travel insurance (highly recommended)


Gift Card

Explore the beautiful, minimalist landscape of New Mexico’s White Sands National Park, a dramatic environment of shifting contrasts, lighting, patterns and textures with a backdrop of the rugged San Andres and Sacramento Mountains. The night sky in this part of the Southwest is one of the darkest in the nation. If you are interested in doing some astrophotography, that can be included in the schedule. We’ll be in the area just after the new moon. In 2019, human footprints spanning from 23,000 – 21,000 years ago were discovered in the park (reported in 2021), dating human occupation of North America nearly 10,000 years earlier than thought. The footprints were discovered in multiple layers of sediment from the periodic drying of the glacial lake that once existed in the Tularosa Basin before the dunes. We’ll have a “Pistachios and Petroglyphs” day, traveling north a few miles to the Heart of the Desert Pistachio farm and the Three Rivers Petroglyph site where there are 21,000 petroglyphs easily viewed and photographed from a well-established loop trail about 1 mile long. And no trip to White Sands can be without lunch at the best barbecue joint in the Southwest.

The white gypsum dunes reflect the colors of the sky, from golden yellow, orange, and red of sunrise and sunset to the pastel pinks and blues of twilight, adding to the ethereal mood of this unique place.

115 mi2 of protected dune fields within the park is home to numerous plant, animal, and bird species, though yucca is the predominant and iconic plant of the landscape.

Our base will be in Alamogordo, about 20 minutes away from the sand.

Emphasis during this workshop will be your interpretation of the stark dune environment using your senses and perceptions to search for simple, elegant compositions using elements to give depth, graphical design, and abstract impressions from broad panoramics to up close macros. We’ll discuss in a group and individual one-on-one guidance about using light and shadow to create form, improving composition, setting exposure under difficult lighting conditions, abstract impressions, and sensing and perceiving the environment to help find subjects and make meaningful photographs. Each student will also receive my book The Ecology of Photography.

Arrive to Alamogordo by 5pm on the first day. We will have group introductions, orientation, and possibly an evening photo shoot on the first day. Our accommodation in Alamogordo will be determined by the number of participants. I prefer a vacation rental where we can easily socialize, fix meals, and organize. But a local hotel is also an option. You’re welcome to bring your own vehicle, but will be responsible for your own entry fees into the park if you do not have a pass. I will have a van so we can travel as a group. See below for arrangement for pickup from the airport in El Paso.

The closest airport is El Paso, TX (ELP), about 1.5 hour drive from Alamogordo. It may be possible for you to be picked up in El Paso if you coordinate with me and my arrival. Otherwise you will need to find your own way to Alamogordo. Albuquerque is another fly-in option, and is about a 3.5 hr drive. If you plan to visit other sites in central or northern New Mexico or Arizona, like Chaco Canyon, Shiprock, the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Santa Fe, etc., then Albuquerque will be a convenient gateway. Near Alamogordo are Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Roswell, and Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.