3 Peaks Photography & Design

3-Day Night Sky/Milky Way and Horse
Photography Workshop
in Westcliffe, CO

June 18-21, 2020

Part of our proceeds go to support Dark Skies, Inc.

Workshop Date
Cost Per Person
Spots Left
June 18-21, (Thurs-Sun) 2020



Also Check Out Our Night Sky Workshops at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Join us for 2 days and 3 nights of photographing horses and the night sky in Westcliffe, CO (see schedule below) near the amazing Sangre de Cristo Mountains! Westcliffe is located in the Wet Mountain Valley, and it is one of the most picturesque places in the entire state. Westcliffe is Colorado's first dark sky community, and the world's highest, making it an excellent location for night photography.

All attendees must sign a waiver and release agreement to participate in these workshops. Westcliffe sits at an elevation of 7,867 feet above sea level, and activities will take place between 7,800 and 9,300 feet. If you are visiting from out of state, it is recommended that you first spend some time during your visit to Colorado at lower elevations and drink plenty of water to avoid altitude sickness.

Check out this time lapse video made from images taken at two of the night sky locations.

The cost of the workshop includes instruction as well as breakfast and dinner. Check-in is at 5 pm on Thursday, June 18. Pets are not allowed.

The tentative schedule for this workshop is as follows:

Thursday, June 18

5:00 PM - Check in
6:00 PM - Dinner at Music Meadows Ranch
7:00 PM - Classroom Instruction
9:00 PM - Photographing the night sky at up to 3 locations through sunrise

Friday, June 19 and Saturday, June 20

7:00 AM - Breakfast at Music Meadows
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM - Break/Rest (Students are on their own to spend this time how they wish)
5:30 PM - Horse photography at Music Meadows
8:30 PM - Dinner at Music Meadows
10:00 PM - Photographing the night sky at up to 3 locations through sunrise

Sunday, June 21

7:00 AM - Breakfast at Music Meadows
11:00 AM - Checkout

Times are subject to change based on weather, sunset conditions and the times the Galactic Core of the Milky Way is visible.

We'll keep an eye on the weather, but we don't have any control over Mother Nature. If the sky is cloudy, we will spend time photographing the barns and the windmill at two of our locations and practicing light painting techniques. If the weather is poor, we will spend time discussing post-processing techniques at the rental house.

What you will learn

This workshop will be limited to 20 people and will be lead by Mike Pach with assistance from three other photographers. Keeping groups small will ensure that each participant gets the individual attention they need to learn ...

how to photograph horses with auto-focus tracking
how to photograph the Milky Way and the stars as points of light.
how to photograph star trails.
light painting techniques (we will supply the lights needed).
how to post-process your images in Photoshop and Lightroom.

What to bring

Camera Gear - You should be familiar with your camera gear and have the knowledge to adjust your aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance while in manual mode. You should know how to switch from auto to manual focus and view the histogram on your LCD screen. We recommend that you familiarize yourself with all of your equipment before attending a workshop and suggest that you practice operating your camera in the dark so that you get a feel for where the buttons and dials are located.

Camera - your camera should be capable of shooting at 3200 or 6400 ISO in order to get photos of the Milky Way and stars as points of light.

Camera manual

Extra batteries

STURDY tripod! - A $20 Wal-Mart special will not be adequate


Lenses - Lenses in the 14-24mm range will produce good results for the night sky. You will need a lens that opens to f/2.8 or larger in order to photograph the stars as points of light. Bring other lenses for sunset, sunrise and wildlife photos. You will be interacting with the horses, so you will have the ability to use both wide and telephoto lenses.

Other Gear

Warm clothes - It's best to dress in layers with insulating layers close to your body. Windproof jackets and pants are recommended to keep you warm in windy conditions.

Gloves and a winter hat - It's not unusual for temperatures to drop down into the 30's and 40's at high elevations during the summer months. Having these items will help keep you comfortable throughout the night.

Sturdy boots or hiking shoes

Rain gear - A lightweight poncho will do fine as well as a waterproof parka and waterproof pants.


Water - It's important to stay hydrated at high altitudes



Breakfast and dinner will be served at Music Meadows Ranch on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. The cost of these meals is included in the price of the workshop. Lunch on Friday and Saturday is not provided while students are on their own. Let us know if you have special dietary needs.


Camping is available on Music Meadows Ranch for a total of $20 for the three days. We are working on securing a couple of AirBnB houses to accommodate students for an extra fee. Let us know if you are interested in either of these options.


"Mike, I really enjoyed the workshop on Aug 11/12 (2018). It was the first time that I saw the Milky Way in all it's grandeur, after a few unsuccessful attempts elsewhere. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop led by yourself and Don. The dinner (Thanks Charley!) was scrumptious, and the presentation prior to heading to the field was very useful and informative. The locations were perfect. I appreciate your patience with this rookie. I learned a lot from you and Don and I look forward to joining you again at a future workshop." ~ Kevin Daly

"Hi Mike,
I have attached a reflection I wrote, based on my experiences during the Night Sky Photography class you taught last July. While I'm not sure what your beliefs are about God/religion, the experience for me that night was deeply, profoundly spiritual and I hope that you can hear the depth of gratitude reflected in my words related specifically to you and what and how you taught the class!  I especially liked the way you invited us at one point, right before we left Bear Basin to go back to the ranch, to just stop and look, behold the beauty of the sky, without trying to focus on the next best shot! I remember in a couple of brief conversations with you since that night that the group dynamics we had that night were unique and enjoyable and that you were just coming back from the recent death of your mother, having acknowledged that you were (understandably so) feeling the impact of your loss of her. We had a camaraderie that was unique for a group of photographers from different backgrounds! Part of my own journey includes having experienced the deaths of both my parents and my parents-in-law, but most profoundly, the death of my 15 year old daughter in 2013, so the reflections written and the insights gained from that amazing July night were indeed profound and required some time and rumination to tease out!Anyway, I wanted to again say "THANK YOU" for doing these classes and I hope that this email and attachment will bring some inspiration to you to keep doing them, because there is such a profound meaning behind the different concepts behind photography (ie, perspective, focus, contrast, light, shadow, etc.) that also have a profound association with our lives as human beings!
" ~ Jerry Daniel - Read Jerry's reflection

"Mike & Don were very well organized and prepared to host a great workshop event. It made for a wonderful opportunity to learn with a combination of classroom training, in-field training, and plenty of individual attention. And with stunning locations that were hand-selected & scouted in advance, our opportunity for great nightscape images was fantastic! And there's no doubt ... the area around Westcliffe is excellent for night photography. Keep up the great work gentlemen!"
~ Mike Berenson, NightPhotographyWorkshop.com

"3 Peaks Photography provided access to several outstanding locations for night sky photography. I was extremely happy with the photographs I took." ~ Jim Schoedler

"Night Photography has always been elusive for me and having the small group experience where I could gain tips and try various techniques was amazing! Thank you Mike for the great tips and instruction!" ~ Lisa Kastelic

"Great workshop. Locations were outstanding!" ~ John Hepburn

"I have taken several of Mike's workshops. I have never been disappointed. Mike is very generous with his knowledge. This workshop was no different, it was awesome! I look forward to attending more workshops with Mike." ~ Elizabeth Moe

"I have always been interested in the night sky but previously only photographed the moon. None of the websites I researched mentioned doing things like setting your focus to infinity during the day, or learning how to handle your camera in the dark. Mike Pach did both of those things. I learned the settings I needed to begin with and how to experiment from there. Definitely a great experience with lessons I'm still putting to use!" ~ Sallie Anderson


Contact Mike Pach

Click Here or on the photo below to view photos from our workshops

Workshop Date
Cost Per Person
Spots Left
June 18-21, (Thurs-Sun) 2020




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