Mount Rainier Workshop FAQs
I get lots of questions about the Mount Rainier Workshop. Here is a list. Please reach out if you have any additional questions.
What is your cancellation policy?
A deposit is due when you register for a workshop.
The remaining balance is due exactly 90 days (May 12th, 2023) prior to the workshop start date. You will receive an invoice 100 (May 3rd) days in advance to pay the remaining balance. Alumni will automatically receive a 15% discount on the remaining balance. If the remaining balance is not paid by the due date, we reserve the right to retain any amounts paid toward the workshop by you, and to release your spot in the workshop.
Cancellations by Participants
The detailed Payment and Cancellation Policy can be viewed HERE.
Cancellations by The Night Photography Workshops
Workshops involve a lot of preparation, both by us and by the participants, so we will only cancel a workshop in extreme circumstances: when safe photography is impossible, park closures, etc. We will almost never cancel a workshop due to weather, as these types of conditions can make for some dramatic and exciting photo opportunities. If we are forced to cancel a workshop for any reason, your entire amount paid will be refunded to you. In the event of a cancellation by us, we are not responsible for any incidental costs you may have incurred including travel, lodging accommodations, car rentals, etc. We recommend that you purchase travel insurance to deal with these situations.
Can I bring a friend or spouse?
The short answer: Sure. Here's the long answer: (a) Your non-photographer friend or spouse may not be allowed to attend the post-processing, classroom session. Space may be limited. If they travel in the field with us at any time, they will be expected to sign the Acknowledgement of Risk form that all attendees must sign. If they do travel into the field with us, they will not receive instruction from me and should not have a camera in hand (they are not a registered attendee). It is possible I may ask that they do not go out into the field at night with us. Our park permit limits the number of folks in our group. We want to obey park rules and follow Leave No Trace practices.
What am I responsible for?
Attendees are responsible their travel to and from the workshop, meals, lodging, and park entrance fee. Mount Rainier has quite a bit of congestion during the summer. Wait times during the days (to enter the park) can be long. We do not plan on getting into the park during these crazy days and times. However, we will be driving into the park after hours (and after entrances are closed to pay the entrance fee). You will want to take care of your park fees prior to your visit. And do not want to get caught in the park without paying the fee. This webpage can provide you with more information and allows you to pay online and get a digital pass for 7 days. Many times, a separate line is created (if it is crowded in the park) for folks with digital passes and National Park passes.
Where do you recommend to get lodging?
We will be shooting in the National Park (mostly on the north and east side of The Mountain). Here are some options for lodging.
Town of Packwood Hotels:
There are plenty of cabins throughout the area on AirBnB and VRBO.
Where is the closest airport?
I recommend that you fly into the Seattle-Tacoma airport. Packwood, Washington is 2.5 hours away. However, if you are looking at the route during the winter months, Google and Apple maps will show the path is longer (as the direct path is closed due to snow).
What equipment should I bring?
What if I do not have the equipment you recommend?
There are several places to rent cameras and lenses (and other equipment). Aside from your local camera store (not box stores or chains), there are some companies that will rent via internet and will ship the equipment to you. We have personally used the following companies and would recommend them:
There is also a company in Seattle, Glazer's Camera, that will rent equipment too.
What about the weather?
Weather during August in the Pacific Northwest can be warm during the days and cold at night, especially at higher elevations. We will be shooting between 5,000 and 7,000 feet in elevation. Check the weather forecast ahead of time. Bring layers, a warm jacket, wool hat, and gloves for shooting at night. I have even used toe warmers in August!! We suggest you check the Required & Recommended Equipment page. Also check Mount Rainier National Park's Weather Page: https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/weather.htm
What if it is cloudy?
Yeah, that is always my fear. However, we can switch plans and do some some light painting and car trails. On peak night of the Perseids, if clouds roll into the area (heavy thick - like "we are not moving clouds", we may head to the east side of the mountains to find clear skies for the meteor shower.
How much hiking is involved?
All of our photography is within a mile from our cars. While we won't be doing much "hiking," it is important to have a good pair of hiking boots with ankle support. We will be hiking up a few hills and slopes. In addition, walkways and trails can be muddy or slippery as well.
Are there restrooms nearby?
Most all of our photography area will be close to restrooms. There are a few locations that might be without. I will let you know what to expect prior to going to each location.
How much driving will we be doing?
Mount Rainier is a fairly large park and all of the wonderful places are anywhere from 45 - 90 minutes from our hotel room (one way).
Do I need to rent or drive a 4x4 vehicle?
No. We will be on all paved roads at Mount Rainier with no plans to be on any roads that require a 4x4.
Will we be shooting during the day at all?
Yes. As a group, we are usually shooting the landscape during sunrise and sunset. For the Mount Rainier Workshops, we will also visit some river beds, lakes, wildflower areas, and waterfalls for other amazing landscape photography opportunities. If you want to capture some long exposure images of the waterfalls, be sure to have an ND 6 or ND8 filter for your lens. Other than the classroom time we will have together, participants will have time to explore the landscape on their own (or sleep) during the day.
When do we sleep?
For the Mount Rainier workshops, we will stop photographing around 1:30 - 2:00 am most nights. On peak night of the Perseids (Sunday night into Monday morning), we will plan to shoot all night. The meteor shower peak will be in the early morning hours. Of course, you are not required to be out with us the entire time. If you are tired, get some sleep. We recommend that you bring a chair with you while we are out. Here is one that is easy to travel with and can fit easily into a suitcase. In addition, bring your hotel pillow and blanket, in case you decide to take a nap in the car. Most the the day is open for attendees to sleep.
Will there be a post-processing session?
Yes, we will meet at the Packwood Senior Center on Saturday from 11:30 am - 3:00 pm (these times may change). Bring your laptop and external hard-drive and make sure you have the latest version of Lightroom, Lightroom Classic (not the cloud version), downloaded to your computer. I will cover editing in Lightroom for a majority of the session. However, I will still make videos from our photos and post on a website for you to view post workshop. As I expect to make the composite image from all the meteors on peak night (after the workshop).
When do we receive a detailed itinerary?
Once you have paid the final balance (at 90 days prior to the workshop, March 12th, 2023), you will receive a general itinerary. As we get closer to the workshop (within 7 days), I will fine tune this itinerary with more specifics. This itinerary will be on the cloud and it will change over time due to conditions and events in the park.
I am fairly new at night photography, is there anything I should do to help prepare for this workshop?
Yes! Shooting in the Pacific Northwest in the summer can be a challenge with timing! Our nights WAY shorter. For example, on August 13th, Mount Rainer will see 5.5 hours of darkness and the galactic core will only be visible for 2.5 hours. On that same night in Big Bend National Park, there will be 7 hours of darkness (and the core will be up for 4.5 hours). Why is this critical to tell you? if you are new to night photography and are not familiar with your camera and tripod. You will be spending most of your time fiddling and figuring out with your camera and looking down. At the end of the night, you may be frustrated by the amount of time you didn't use shooting - or you may even miss an incredible meteor (we will be there during the Perseid Meteor Shower!) I highly encourage you to spend some time preparing by following my Things to do to Prepare for the Workshop. Don't just do this once...do this several times in your living room until you feel comfortable. You will benefit from this for sure!
What's in my bag?
Just in case you want to make sure you bring everything (or compare your list to mine), I am sharing my packing list for Mount Rainier. I do think it helps people get a sense of what to bring! You can view it here.