My Favorite Outdoor Classroom

Photographing the South Dakota Badlands

A HDR image I captured on my first photo safari in South Dakota in 2011.

The first time I experienced South Dakota was on a photo tour with Nikonians in 2005. I had just gotten the new Nikon D2x DSLR, and that was my first serious photo trip shooting digital. I’ll never forget the awe I experienced seeing the otherworldly rock formations there for the first time.

The badlands are perfect for monochrome landscapes, allowing you to focus on light and texture

I returned to the Badlands in 2011 to lead a photo safari there, and I’ve been fortunate to go back with clients every year since then. The Badlands is a magical place for landscape photography, because you never know what you’ll experience when you’re there. The towering rock formations, amazing overlooks, and incredible skies are just some of what makes South Dakota an incredible landscape photo destination.

When to visit the Badlands?

In early summer, the Badlands is lush and green (and often wet). In fall, the greens make way to browns and gold as the late afternoon light paints the rock formations there. In winter, you’ll need to brave cold, windy conditions but you can get images of snow-covered rock formations that are incredible.

Fog fills the Pinnacles Overlook, 2014.

A landscape photographer’s dream environment

In the Badlands, you can explore a tremendous range of landscape photography styles, including:

With the right clouds overhead, the Badlands is an amazing place to try your hand at long exposure photography.

Unless you visit the badlands in winter, the days are long. Despite having to wake up pretty early in order to be set up for sunrise, the long days offer me the opportunity to really sit down with my clients to work through the three major components of digital workflow:

  • Composition
  • Exposure (Camera settings )
  • Post-processing and image output
First light in the Badlands, 2015
Dramatic skies called for a wide-angle lens (2012).

Join me in the Badlands!

2019 marks my 9th consecutive year of teaching photography in South Dakota. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced enthusiast, this outdoor classroom has something to offer everyone who is interested in capturing dramatic landscape images. Every day we’ll be treated to something new and exciting!

My 2019 Badlands Safari is limited to 8 photographers. Early registration closes May 31st.

One thought on “My Favorite Outdoor Classroom”

  1. I too love photographing in the badlands. My first time there was in one of your workshops. I have been back to photograph it again and enjoyed it greatly. It’s a beautiful place to go and your workshop showed me several great places to go!

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