Vermont Night Skies and Light Painting Photography Workshop

Milky Way Arch

Aug. 2-4, 2024 --- Join me, professional photographer Loren Fisher, as we get away from city lights and explore photographing at night, astrophotography and light painting. You don’t have to head out west to find darkness, we’ll go to remote Vermont locations that offer tremendous views of the sky. I have mastered the technique of light painting: using flashlights to illuminate large objects in the dark. The combination of stars and light painting make for incredible images.

Even if you have never photographed at night, this is will be an exciting exploration of your capabilities, it is much easier than it seems, if you follow the proper steps.

Photos of the night sky can be pretty boring if there isn’t something in the foreground. We’ll make traditional shots with silhouettes but we’ll go beyond that and do light painting to illuminate large foreground objects. I’ll have different flashlights we will use including my big one that can light things up from more than a ¼ mile away.

I’ll show you how to find the Milky Way’s galactic center – the brightest and most colorful section – which will be visible from about 10:53 p.m. to 2:47 a.m. during our workshop. If we are lucky we’ll capture some shooting stars. Our cameras will see more shooting stars than we will! When reviewing your photos, you will learn how the tell the difference between a meteor, airplane or satellite streaking across your image.

One of the trickier things about night photography is focusing your camera, I’ll show you some great methods to make sure you are in focus. We’ll delve into long exposure noise reduction and when it should and shouldn’t be used. You’ll learn how the focal length of your lens affects how long you can leave the shutter open without seeing movement in the stars. We will photograph star trails using multiple exposures and learn how to put them together in Photoshop and the StarStax program.

If we happen to hit a cloudy night, we will still make some fun and exciting photos by doing creative light painting of Vermontish things like a covered bridge, a cemetery, a barn or a pond.

You don’t need a lot of specialized equipment for photographing the stars but you need a camera that makes clean images with ISO higher than 2000. A wide and fast lens is needed, I use a 15-35mm f/2.8 zoom on a full size sensor camera. If you are using a crop sensor, you want at least a 12mm lens or wider. F/2.8 is important, you can get away with f/3.5 but any slower and you won’t be happy with your results. If you don’t have a fast wide angle lens this might be a good time to rent one. You’ll need a sturdy tripod and a remote shutter release, I recommend a wired one. Wireless work but you better have spare batteries! An intervalometer is needed to shoot star trails. Many newer cameras have one built in, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll want to pick one up, it can also serve as your remote shutter release.

You will want to have a small flashlight, a headlamp works best so your hands are free to handle your camera. The flashlight you use needs to have a red filter. Since it takes your eyes over 20 minutes to adjust to full darkness, you don’t want to pop on a bright light and make your eyes (or other people’s eyes nearby) readjust. The red light gives you enough light to see your equipment but won’t affect your vision. We’ll talk more about equipment well in advance of the workshop.

We will be based at my art gallery in Woodstock, VT, a quaint New England village named by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the most beautiful towns in America.

We won’t be doing much hiking or walking, you’ll be pretty close to the car the whole time unless you like to wander away from the group. I recommend wearing hiking boots since we will be out in fields, around ponds and in rough ground in the dark. Waterproof boots are recommend since dew tends to build up quickly in the fields. You’ll receive more clothing suggestions after you register.

Since we will be out late, I won’t have any planned activities during the day but I’ll give you an extensive list of great sites to visit for other photo opportunities.

I’ll suggest a couple of fine hotels in Woodstock, you will receive more info once you register. If you would rather find your own lodging, Woodstock is home to many B&Bs, motels and the large, but expensive, Woodstock Inn. There are some chain hotels nearby. I can help suggest other places to stay.

Since our schedule will be a bit wacky and we are going to be in locations away from towns, we’ll grab food on the fly and plan late night snacks. One evening I’ll have pizza for everyone (including gluten free if needed). I can’t shoot when I’m hungry, so you can be sure I’ll have a plan for us.

Local transportation
is included in Loren’s 12 passenger Sprinter van. Or, you can drive your own car. I’ll have full detailed addresses for you.

Quechee Dam

Maximum number of participants: 11

Aug 2-4, 2024

$529 for returning clients
$559 for early registration by April 30
$599 Regular registration

Our tentative schedule
, which may change:

Friday, Aug. 2
6 p.m. meet at my art gallery and get to know each other and talk about our fun time together. I’ll get us some pizzas and we’ll head out at 7:30 p.m. when we shoot Blue Hour and light paint a barn, shoot star trails over the barn and then the Milky Way over another barn. After that we’ll go to a private property to photograph the stars and Milky Way reflecting in a pond.

Back to Woodstock by 1 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 3

Our day together starts at 4 p.m., we’ll meet at my house and spend a couple of hours talking about post processing and how to get the most out of your images. We will use Photoshop and StarTrax to put together multiple star trail images that we shot overnight. We then do a bit of driving and head north to photograph the stars at one of the coolest locations in Vermont. There we will find an old one-room school and a unique covered bridge placed over a small pond up on an open hillside.

Back to Woodstock by 2:30 a.m.

Sunday, Aug. 4

The night’s shooting starts at 7:30 p.m. as we photograph Blue Hour color on the meandering Ottauquechee River as we light up trees on other side. Then we go to an old truck and light paint it. After that it is off to a private property where we can shoot star trails and the Milky Way over a pond.

Back to Woodstock by 2 a.m.

About Woodstock, Vt.:
Woodstock, Vermont, population 3,000, was the winner of a 1997 national contest conducted by the Ladies Home Journal magazine as the “Prettiest Town in America.” In 2018 it was named one of Conde Nast Traveler’s 30 Most Beautiful Towns in America.

It is home to Marsh-Billings National Park, the only working farm National Park and has three covered bridges. It is a visual town, with visitors coming by the busload to snap pictures.

From Frommer’s: For more than a century, the resort community of Woodstock has been considered one of New England’s most exquisite villages, and its attractiveness has benefited from the largesse of some of the country’s most affluent citizens. Even the surrounding countryside is, by and large, unsullied — it’s pretty difficult to drive to Woodstock via any route that isn’t pastoral and scenic, and by the time you’re here you’re already feeling as if you’re back in some other, slower-paced era. Few New England villages can top Woodstock for sheer grace and elegance; its tidy downtown is compact and neat, populated by galleries and boutiques. The lovely village green is surrounded by handsome homes, creating what amounts to a comprehensive review of architectural styles of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and you could literally throw a stone (but don’t) from the town center and hit a fine covered bridge. Read more:

Getting to Woodstock, Vt.:
Driving to Woodstock is 2.5 hours from Boston, 4.5 hours from New York and 1.5 hours from Burlington. Woodstock has nearby access to I-89 (heading north to Burlington, VT south to New Hampshire and Boston) and I-91 (heading south to Hartford). For online driving directions, Click Here

Flights arrive daily in Lebanon, New Hampshire (20 minutes from Woodstock). Click Here for more information. Domestic flights arrive daily in Manchester, New Hampshire, or Burlington, VT (both 90 minutes from Woodstock). International travelers may fly into Burlington, VT, Boston or Hartford, CT. There is a quality bus service from the Boston airport (and New York) to nearby Lebanon, NH, I can help you get to Woodstock from there.

Amtrak stops daily at White River Junction, 14 miles from Woodstock. Click Here for schedules to and from Washington, D.C. (via New York), Montreal, Canada and Boston.

Deposits and Cancellations:

I must receive notice of your cancellation in writing, at which time I offer the following refunds:60 days or more before workshop: Full workshop payment minus $25 credit card and handling fee.59 to 30 days before workshop: 50% of workshop cost minus $25 credit card and handling fee.29 or fewer days before workshop: no refund. If you must forfeit your workshop fee we will refund your full payment, minus $25 credit card and handling fee, if I can fill your spot.

No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a workshop. Workshops are sold as a package only.

If a workshop is cancelled, you will receive a full refund of any money paid, but I will not be held responsible for your other expenses, such as airline ticket, hotel deposit or rental car, that may be associated with the canceled workshop. I suggest you purchase trip insurance to be safe.

Email Loren at [email protected] or call 802-332-6611.

If you have haven’t driven in Vermont much, they drive the speed limit and expect the same from you. When the speed limit is 25, don’t drive 35 or you’ll get a ticket.