Milky Way and Night Sky Photography

Alabama Hills, Eastern Sierra


June 28 - 30, 2024 (Fri - Sun)
July 26 - 28, 2024 (Fri - Sun)


The Mount Whitney Gallery
126 N Main Street
Lone Pine, California



Class limited to 7 students.

Sold Out!
Contact us to get on the wait list.



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. 


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.
  • Timelapsing.
  • Know how to quickly adjust your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Even if you aren’t fully comfortable with understanding these settings, know how to change them.
  • 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.
  • Know the basics of the Develop Module and Masking Panel in Lightroom / Adobe Camera Raw.
  • Understand the basics of layers and masking in Photoshop.


Joshua Cripps – Professional Photographer and Guide

Josh is an acclaimed landscape photographer and educator from Lone Pine, California, where he owns and runs The Mount Whitney Gallery. He gives presentations for companies like Nikon and leads exciting photo tours around the world. Josh’s Milky Way photos were featured by Nikon in the global launch campaign of the Nikon D750.


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.


Day 1

Arrive at the Whitney Gallery after lunch (the exact time will be sent to you in advance of the class).

  • Afternoon: Classroom sessions on beginner night sky photography, camera settings, and Milky Way planning using PhotoPills.
  • Evening / sunset: dinner break.
  • Post-sunset until late: Milky Way and astro photography shoot.


Day 2

  • Late 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: dinner break.
  • Sunset until late: Blue hour, Milky Way, and astro photography shoot.


Day 3

  • Late morning: intermediate post processing techniques.
  • Midday: class ends.


Weather and Conditions

July workshop:

Typically Lone Pine in July is very hot and clear, with day time temperatures in the 90-100 range, and nighttime temperatures in the 60s – 80s, making it extremely comfortable for shooting astro in the wee hours of the morning.

September workshop:

The Sierra typically enjoys beautiful fall weather in September. You can expect warm days and cool nights, with clear skies most nights.


This area has some of the darkest skies in the US, and the workshop is timed to coincide with the new moon. Having stunning star visibility is almost assured. However, in July there is a possibility of thunderstorms. 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.


Camera Gear You Should Bring

  • Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera
  • Lenses. We highly recommend 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:
    • 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
    • Midrange, 24-70mm
    • Short telephoto, 70-200mm
  • A sturdy tripod
  • Comfortable camera backpack you can hike up to 1 mile with
  • Remote shutter release
  • Rocket blower and shammy cloth, lens/sensor cleaning fluid, lens wipes, sensor swabs
  • Extra batteries, charger, and memory cards


Recommended Clothing and Items

We 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
  • A wide-brim hat and sunglasses
  • Wool or synthetic socks
  • Sturdy footwear that you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy. Lightweight hiking boots or hiking shoes are recommended for most outings. 
  • A large water bottle and sunscreen
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Trekking poles

COST - $695

Tuition Includes:

  • All classroom instruction.
  • 2 guided astro and Milky Way shoots.
  • Post processing instruction and Q&A.
Class limited to 7 students.

Not Included:

  • Airfare / transportation to Lone Pine.
  • Transportation during the class.
  • Lodging and meals.
  • Personal items, souvenirs, passport/visa fees as applicable.
  • Optional activities.
  • Trip insurance.


Fully Insured and Permitted, Leave-No-Trace Advocates 

We take pains to ensure our activities are 100% above board. We obtain all the necessary permissions, certifications, and insurance required in order conduct our tours.

We are also strong advocates of Leave No Trace (LNT) wilderness ethics. We teach responsible photography practices and never sacrifice the environment for the sake of a photo. Our goal is to leave our tour locations in better shape than the way we found them.

Carbon Offset and Planting Trees

We partner with the Give Back to Nature Project to plant trees to offset the carbon emissions generated by this class. 


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.

Questions? Email Us

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