Spring in the Badlands Photography Workshop


Rugged Badlands formations seem to rise abruptly out of the grassy plains and rise into a crisp sky. When standing at overlooks, the terrain unfolds before your eyes. May in the Badlands is a time when the life is returning to the park, the grass starts to green and some wild flowers start to appear. The bison, bighorn and mule deer are wandering the park after the winter. Calves start to appear. On this Badlands Photography Workshop, we’ll spend three days photographing the park from sunrise to sunset. If the weather looks favorable, we’ll photograph the Milky Way one night. While there will be a short introductory classroom session, expect to be in the field for this workshop.

If full contact me to be added to the waiting list. It’s not usual to get a cancellation. 

Dates: May 14 to 17, 2015 (arrive on the 14th)
Note: If you arrive the 14th, we’ll have a sunrise shoot on the morning of the 15th.
Cost: $499  (A nonrefundable deposit of $100 is due at registration. The remainder is due 30 days before the workshop.) This event is in cooperation with and under a Commercial Use Authorization from the National Park Service.

SKU: Spring Badlands Photography Workshop Tags: ,


Badlands Photography Workshop Itinerary

This Badlands National Park photography workshop combines minimal classroom time with the majority of the long weekend spent in the field. You’ll learn photography exposure techniques, compositional techniques and image interpretation. There’s plenty of time for one-on-one instruction with the small group size. This is the tentative itinerary. We’ll be shooting landscapes for the most part, but if opportunities to photograph wildlife present themselves, we’ll photograph bison, pronghorn, mule deer and bighorn as well, especially when we can include them as an element in the landscape.

In May, the sun rises early and sets late. We’ll shoot most of the sunrises and sunset every day, and spend most of the day in the field. If the sky is clear, there may be the opportunity to photograph the Milky Way over the Badland formations. We will keep the schedule flexible to take advantage of these types of situations as they arise.  We’ll be back in Wall for a late dinner, but our other meals will be in the park. The Badlands is a huge park and remote park, so it’s hard to easily get into town for breakfast or lunch. Be prepared to spend the entire day in the field and bring food.


Most people will drive on Thursday and check in on Thursday. It’s a 7.5 to 8 hour drive from the Twin Cities, so if you leave at 8am, you should get to Wall in time for dinner. For those people flying. I recommend flying into Rapid City, renting a car. It’s about a 1 hour drive from Rapid City to the Wall. I’ll let you know where we’re planning on eating and we’ll have a chance to get to know each other and discuss the weekend’s itinerary.

We’ll shoot the sunrise and golden hours of light before lunch. For anyone arriving on Friday, meet at 1pm for introductions and a classroom presentation that presents techniques for successfully capturing the Badlands National Park. After the classroom session, we’ll head out into the Badlands to photograph the terrain. We’ll photography until sunset.

The day starts early with a morning session photographing the sunrise and then head back out into the field for a full-day adventure. We’ll come back to the hotel after sunset, and you’ll have the evening free to enjoy the town or work on images.

We assemble before sunrise in the lobby to head out for sunrise photography session and stay in the field until noon. The workshop ends at 1pm for those people trying to leave on Sunday. If you’re staying until Monday, we’ll stay out until sunset. You receive access to a private Facebook group to share your photos.

The Weather

The weather is perfect in the Badlands in May. Highs average 72°F and lows average 46°F. Rain storms can and do happen in May. It is the second wettest month in the park with an average of 2.75 inches of total rainfall.

Lodging Partner

The Days Inn in Wall, South Dakota is hosting this workshop.  For workshop participants, they’re offering a discounted room rate of $65 per night starting on Thursday night. We will use their conference room for the workshop classroom and presentations. We will also meet there each morning before heading out for the sunrise. Room rate is not included in the workshop fee.

When you make your reservation tell them it’s a “Bryan Hansel” room.  Days Inn phone number: 605-279-2000

Required Photography Equipment

Camera: A SLR-style digital camera, mirrorless interchangeable system or a point and shoot that allows you to manually set your shutter speed and aperture is highly recommended.

Lenses: A variety of lenses ranging from 18mm to 200mm — longer is better for the full moon — I suggest 300mm. Most of the time, you’ll use something in the 24mm to 120mm range, but the other focal lengths are useful. A macro lens or close-up diopters are handy if we come across any fossils. We’ll mainly shoot landscape, but if we have a chance to shoot wildlife, we’ll get pictures.

Filters: A polarizing filter (example) is highly recommended. ND grads with a holder and rings for your lenses are optional but recommended for sunrise and sunset (See this newsletter for more info about NDs). For this workshop, a 3-stop soft ND grad or a 4-stop soft ND grad works best. In the Badlands, I’ll often use a 3-stop soft ND grad combined with a 2-stop soft ND. A 3-stop hard ND grad can be useful at one sunset location.

Other Suggested Equipment: Bring a tripod, shutter release cord your camera’s manual, a USB thumb drive, waterproof camera bag and a laptop computer.

I’ll send out a full equipment list a month before the workshop.

Registration and Cancellation Policies

Additional information


Dates: December 14 to 17, 2014

Max Participants

10 to 12 depending on skill level of participants


This workshop is for all levels of photographers and works best for photographers using digital cameras. Beginners welcome. Any hiking is easy to moderate and most photo locations are close to the parking lots.

What's Included

Quality small group and one-on-one instruction. Conference room for classroom time. Fun!

What's Not Included

Transportation to Badlands National Park and photography locations. Car pooling is highly recommended. Lodging. Meals.

Lodging Partner

Days Inn Wall in Wall, South Dakota is our lodging partner for the workshop. All classroom sessions will be in their conference room. Room rate is $58.48. Ask for a "Bryan Hansel" room.

Getting There

The Badlands National Park and Wall, South Dakota is located about 55 miles east of Rapid City, South Dakota on Interstate 90. From Minneapolis, it's a 7.5 hour drive via US-169S to MN-60 W and I90 (check Google Maps for the exact route).


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