Milky Way and Night Sky

Photography Workshop

In this workshop we will cover the beginner and intermediate astrophotography skills necessary to give you confidence in creating stunning Milky Way landscape photos. Join professional landscape photographer Joshua Cripps in the breathtaking Eastern Sierra to photograph the Milky Way in conjunction with the beautiful landscapes of this unique area. Lone Pine will be our base for this class, and we will explore the Alabama Hills as well as the surrounding landscapes in search of our astro photos. 


This Eastern Sierra Milky Way photography workshop is comprised of two classroom sessions, two field excursions, and two processing sessions. In the classroom we will learn everything that goes into making beautiful Milky Way and star photographs, including the required gear, using the PhotoPills App, artistic and technical approaches to shooting the stars, understanding the Milky Way’s movement, planning the shot, problem solving, and best practices. We will work together as a group to plan our shots, then go into the field to bring them to life!

During the class we will have two field sessions to photograph the Milky Way in alignment with the wonderful natural features of the area, such as Mobius Arch, Boot Arch and the other amazing formations of the Alabama Hills. All our shoots will take place after sunset, late into the night to allow for ample opportunities for shooting.

The classroom and post processing sessions for this class take place at The Mount Whitney Gallery in downtown Lone Pine, California.

Day 1

Arrive at The Mount Whitney Gallery in the early afternoon (the exact time will be sent to you via email).

  • Afternoon: Classroom sessions on beginner night sky photography, camera settings, and Milky Way planning using PhotoPills.
  • Evening / sunset: Dinner break + optional sunset shoot.
  • After sunset: Milky Way and astro photography shoot.

Day 2

  • Morning: basic Milky Way post processing techniques.
  • Midday: lunch break
  • Afternoon: Classroom sessions on intermediate night sky photography, blue hour blends, stacking, and more PhotoPills.
  • Evening / sunset: dinner break + optional sunset shoot.
  • After sunset (approx): Blue Hour, Milky Way and astro photography shoot.

Day 3

  • Morning: Intermediate post processing techniques.
  • Midday: Workshop ends.

Note: all times will be sent to you via email prior to the workshop. Itinerary is subject to change at any point.


This class is aimed at beginner and intermediate photographers. Specifically, it’s for anyone who wants to become confident creating beautiful Milky Way and night sky photographs.

Beginning Learning Goals:

  • Learn how to compose and focus at night.
  • Understand the critical aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and white balance settings for stunning astro photos.
  • Exposing correctly to see the Milky Way.
  • Aligning the Milky Way with a subject.
  • Predicting the Milky Way’s location at a given time.
  • Understanding Milky Way seasonality.
  • Photographing the Milky Way with a silhouetted landscape.
  • Simple light painting to illuminate your subject.
  • Basic Milky Way raw processing in Lightroom / Adobe Camera Raw.

Intermediate Learning Goals:

  • Photographing blue hour / time blends.
  • Stacking multiple Milky Way photos for noise reduction.
  • Photographing stars with a long lens.
  • Aligning and blending multiple images in Photoshop (for example, blue hour foreground shot with nighttime Milky Way shot).


This class does NOT cover:

  • Star trails.
  • Polar aligned star tracking.
  • Milky Way panoramas and stitching.
  • Timelapse.
  • Know how to quickly adjust your ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and white balance IN THE DARK . Even if you aren’t fully comfortable with understanding these settings, know how to change them, especially at night.
  • Be able to turn on your 2/5/10 sec timer, and change your shooting mode from single shot to timer and back.
  • Be able to turn exposure bracketing on and off.
  • Be able to quickly zoom to 100% in Live View and Playback.
  • Enable Back Button Focus.
  • Know how to change from autofocus to manual focus and back, be able to move your focus point, and turn on focus peaking.
  • View the Histogram in Live View and Playback.
  • Activate the Level in your Live View.
  • LENR – Know where to find Long Exposure Noise Reduction in your settings and how to turn it on and off.
  • Know how to change the brightness of your screen.
  • Know how to access your Menus, quickly scroll through, change and confirm settings.

Processing Prerequisites:

  • Know the basics of the Develop Module and Masking Panel in Lightroom / Adobe Camera Raw.
  • Understand the basics of layers and masking in Photoshop.
  • Have Sequator (Windows) or Starry Landscape Stacker (Mac) installed on your computer. We will go over how to use them.

This is a low physicality workshop, with 5-15 minute gentle walks to reach our shooting locations.

That being said, there may be some short descents and climbs, the ground is soft and uneven in places, and there may be some rocks to walk over or step up onto. 


  • Carry your own equipment to and from the shooting locations.
  • Have good balance and be comfortable on uneven ground.
  • Be able to squat down and get back up unassisted.
  • Be able to walk over uneven terrain at night (with a headlamp).

Camera Equipment to Bring:

  • Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera
  • Lenses. It’s critical that you have a wide, fast lens for photographing the Milky Way. But bring all the following lenses (or equivalent) to take advantage of the wide variety of scenes you will experience:
    • Required: Ultra-wide, fast lens, such as a 14-24mm f/2.8 or 16-35mm f/2.8
    • Optional: dedicated astro lens like a 20mm f/1.4 lens
    • Optional: Midrange, 24-70mm
    • Optional: Short telephoto, 70-200mm
  • A sturdy tripod
  • A headlamp with a red bulb
  • Comfortable camera backpack you can hike up to 1 mile with
  • Remote shutter release (mandatory for stacking)
  • Rocket blower and shammy cloth, lens/sensor cleaning fluid, lens wipes, sensor swabs
  • Extra batteries, charger, and memory cards
  • Optional: light painting LEDs, gels, wands, etc.
  • Optional but recommended: camp chair

Computer Equipment to Bring:

  • Laptop with Lightroom Classic and Photoshop installed
  • Stacking software, optional – Sequator (Windows) or Starry Landscape Stacker (Mac)
  • PhotoPills App on your phone

Expect warm/hot days and cool/warm nights, with clear skies most nights.

Due to variable conditions, I recommend bringing multiple layers of non-cotton clothing, like Merino wool, fleece, or synthetic fibers. Specifically you should bring: 

  • A jacket and pants
  • A windproof rain jacket
  • Lighter layers, like a sun hoodie or long-sleeved sun shirt
  • Shorts
  • A wide-brim hat and sunglasses
  • Wool or synthetic socks
  • Sturdy footwear that you don’t mind getting dirty Lightweight hiking boots or hiking shoes are recommended for most outings. 
  • A large water bottle and sunscreen
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Trekking poles

Shooting Conditions

This area has some of the darkest skies in the US, and having stunning star visibility is almost assured. However, in the this area can be unpredictable and we make no guarantees regarding clouds, clear skies, rain, sun, or Milky Way visibility. No refunds will be given in the event the weather prevents us from photographing the stars.  

Getting to the class

This Milky Way photography workshop meets in Lone Pine, California, 3-4 hours north of Los Angeles, 4 hours west of Las Vegas, or 1 hour south of Bishop. The class location is:

The Mount Whitney Gallery
126 N Main Street
Lone Pine, CA 93545


Transportation during the class

You are responsible for your own transportation during this class, but we will organize carpools for the excursions.

Lodging and Meals

Lodging and meals are up to you. Lone Pine has a wide array of dining and lodging options, from inexpensive to high end. There is lots of camping in the area. Please let us know if you need lodging suggestions.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Payments are refundable up to two weeks before the workshop, less a $100 administrative fee.

If we cancel this workshop due to unforeseen circumstances, we will refund your tuition or transfer it to another class.

Weather Policy

We make no guarantees regarding clouds, clear skies, rain, sun, or Milky Way visibility. Because we plan to photograph no matter what the conditions are, no refunds will be given in the event weather prevents us from photographing the Milky Way. 

COVID-19 Policy

We do not currently have any COVID-19 requirements. That being said, if you feel sick before the class, please stay home and let us know. We will transfer your registration to another class of your choosing.

This policy will be updated as CDC, WHO, Federal, and state guidelines change.

Acknowledgement of Risks

Please download and sign this form, and bring it with you to the initial meeting. You can also email us a digital signed copy.

Image Use

During this workshop we may take behind the scenes photos and videos of the participants. These photos are used to share among the group, as well as for promotional purposes on our website or other marketing materials. If you would prefer to not have your image appear in these materials, please let us know.

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