Dark Skies, Desert Beasts: Night Photography in Borrego Springs, California - Atlas Obscura Trips
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Dark Skies, Desert Beasts: Night Photography in Borrego Springs, California

from $1,470 USD per person for 4 days, 3 nights
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  • 14 People Maximum
  • Easy Activity Level
  • Road Trip
See Dates
Trip Overview

Atlas Obscura is joining forces with National Parks at Night to offer you a one-of-a-kind night photography workshop under the full moon in the early spring desert. Accompanied by two expert photography instructors, we’ll journey deep into the desert of Southern California to explore and photograph the Dark Sky Sculptural Oasis of Borrego Springs, one of 16 International Dark Sky Communities—a town with zero stoplights and where stargazing is practically a nightly ritual. Cameras in hand, we’ll explore the more than 130 towering desert sculptures surrounding the town, a number of which pay tribute to prehistoric creatures that once roamed this same desert. The waxing moon will illuminate the landscape each night, providing the perfect backdrop to light paint the desert beasts. During the day we'll learn about night photo techniques, light painting, and post-processing. At night we’ll allow ourselves to be transported back in time—outfitted with 21st-century lenses—by the mesmerizing glow of moonlight on the rapidly awakening desert landscape.

  • Expert instruction on how to focus, compose, and light paint
  • Daily lectures, post-processing, and image reviews
  • After-dark desert exploration


Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.
National Parks at Night
In Partnership with National Parks at Night

Trip Leaders

Lance Keimig
Lance Keimig is best known for night photography made at the intersection of the natural and built environments. Based in Hinesburg, Vermont, he is the author of two books, including Night Photography—Finding Your Way In The Dark, which has been translated into seven languages. Keimig is a partner in National Parks at Night, an organization dedicated to promoting and preserving our national parks through photographic education. He's taught night photography for the past 20 years at the New England School of Photography, The Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, The Houston Center for Photography, Maine Media Workshops, the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, and for Atlas Obscura. He leads independent workshops across the country, and international photo tours around the world. 
Tim Cooper
Tim is a photographer, author, and educator who can’t imagine a better way to spend time than basking in the beauty of the natural world while sharing his love of photography with others. While teaching at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, he also worked as a commercial photographer for The North Face, The Ritz Carlton, Vasque boots, 3M, and The International Heart Institute. Tim is the author of several training videos and e-books, including The Realistic HDR Image and The Magic of Light Painting, and his work has appeared in Travel & Leisure, New York Times Magazine, Outdoor Photographer, Fly Rod & Reel, Modern Luxury, and Private Clubs.

Additional Info

Arrival & Departure

You'll need your own means of transport for this workshop. We recommend that you arrive in the afternoon or evening on Monday to give yourself time to join Lance and Chris for dinner and settle in before the workshop begins on Tuesday at 10 a.m. As for the workshop's conclusion, you should plan to depart after dinner on Friday. If you'd prefer to drive out the next day, you can extend your reservation another night.

Activity Level & Daily Schedule

Keep in mind that this workshop is fairly active. You should feel comfortable remaining outside and on your feet for long periods of time, especially after dark. We will often be walking on desert sand, dirt paths, and other uneven ground.


Our group will be staying at the Palm Canyon Hotel and Resort in Borrego Springs. Members of our group will receive a 10 percent discount. In addition to hotel rooms, the property offers Airstream and vintage trailer rentals, as well as RV hookups and campsites, a pool, and a fitness room. Our daily meeting room is at the hotel. Information on how to book your accommodations will be sent after you sign up. 

  • Expert guidance and mentorship from two talented National Parks at Night photo instructors.
  • Daily lectures, image review sessions, photo instruction, and post-processing.
  • Our final group dinner, as well as water and snacks throughout the workshop.
  • Brand-new headlamps for your nightly photo sessions.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans and photographers, excited to explore all that the night sky has to offer!
  • Transport to, from, and around Borrego Springs.
  • Accommodation (We have a 10% hotel discount code for the Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort in Borrego Springs for all travelers).
  • All lunches and three dinners.
  • Photography equipment and gear. (We'll send a list of what you'll need once you sign up!)
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
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Trip FAQs

Workshop participants must have at least basic photo skills, know their cameras well, and be comfortable shooting RAW in manual mode with a DSLR or high-end mirrorless camera. Night photography experience is not necessary, but even folks with extensive experience shooting at night will find this class challenging, stimulating, and inspiring.

5E544819-7447-4B4E-A8D9-B542A98FA478 Created with sketchtool.
Everything I hoped for and more; as was advertised and more. An excellent introduction to nighttime photography and image processing.
—Manny P. (May 2018)

Upcoming Departures

  • Mar 7–Mar 10, 2020
    from $1,470 per person
Booking and payment processing partners may vary with departure date.
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