3 Peaks Photography & Design

Night Sky/Milky Way Photography Workshops at the Paint Mines

Tentative 2023 Dates have been posted!

Active military service members, veterans and dependents residing in El Paso or Teller counties are eligible to participate in my classes and workshops and register for private photography lessons for FREE through the Military Arts Connection with a referral from a participating service organization.

2023 Night Sky/Milky Way Photography Workshops at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park

The Paint Mines are located at 29950 Paint Mines Road Calhan, CO 80808. This park is an excellent place for night photography, however, permits are needed to be there after dark. Arrangements have been made with El Paso County Parks to conduct night sky photography workshops at the Paint Mines. Space is limited to 6 participants for each date. The cost per person is $300, and part of the proceeds go to support El Paso County nature centers. Call 719-520-6388 to register.

We Also Offer Night Sky Photo Workshops in Westcliffe, CO

Check out this time lapse video made from images from one of our Paint Mines workshops.

More information about the park can be found on the El Paso County Parks website.

All attendees must sign a waiver and release agreement to participate in these workshops. Register at the bottom of this page. Refunds are not given unless the workshop is cancelled.

The cost of the workshop includes instruction, hands-on practice in the field and a full evening/morning of shooting. The workshops will start after sunset and end just after sunrise (we plan to stay up all night). You should have a good understanding of your camera functions, including how to shoot in manual and how to change your settings.

Click the links below to view photos from recent workshops at the Paint Mines

July 1, 2022

May 5, 2022

April 1, 2022

September 10, 2021

April 10, 2021


The tentative schedule for each workshop is as follows:

We will meet at the main entrance to the park next to the restrooms, then move to the second parking lot after a brief instruction session. If conditions are right and time permits, we'll spend some time capturing some images from the overlook, which offers grerat views of the park, especially under moonlight. We'll hike downinto the park and photograph the night sky among the hoodoos. The hike into the park to the area with the largest hoodoos is approximately 1 mile. The plan is to stick around to photograph the sunrise, but you are not required to stay the entire night.

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 practicing light painting techniques.

What you will learn

Workshops will be limited to 6 students and will be lead by Mike Pach with assistance from Don Savage. Keeping groups small will ensure that each participant gets the individual attention they need to learn ...

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.

Learning materials will be provided to each participant prior to each workshop.

What to bring

Camera Gear

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!!!


Lenses - Lenses in the 14-24mm range will produce good results for the night sky. You will need a lens that opens to f/4.0 or larger (1.2, 1.8, 2.8, etc.) in order to photograph the stars as points of light..

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. Watch the video below to learn how to dress in layers. Not dressing properly is one of the biggest issues I come across with my workshop students, especially those who live in warm locations like Texas and Florida.

Gloves and a winter hat - Having these items will help keep you comfortable throughout the night.

Sturdy boots or hiking shoes - We will be hiking from the main parking lot into the area with the largest hoodoos.

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


Water - It's important to stay hydrated

Snacks - Bring enough to keep you going throughout the night


"I went with Mike to the Paint Mines Night Photography class and I learned so much. All night long Mike would take the time to not only give answers to all of our questions, but would walk us through what we were trying to accomplish. I did much YouTubing prior to this night trying to learn about Night Photography and there is alot out there on it, but None was anywhere close to the quality I felt I received from this hands on in person training. I would highly recommend this course for those who have never done night photography and even those who have and just want to get better. Great Location as well. THANKS!!!!" ~ Walter Steadman

"The Night Sky workshop at the Paint Mines was my first experience with that style of photography, and thanks to Mike's guidance, I took some amazing shots that I would never have been able to on my own. Mike's knowledge of both photography techniques and the local geography are invaluable, and the size and structure of the workshop made it easy to get any and all questions answered. I would highly recommend Mike's workshops, and am hoping to attend another one sometime in the future." ~ Seth Harrison

"Had a wonderful night filled with astrophotography with Mike Pach and 3 Peaks Photography. Lots of help and instruction along with help with composition." ~ Kit Mulligan


Contact Mike Pach

Need extra help?

Do you think you'll need extra help to prepare for the workshop? If so, you can hire Mike for a one- or two-hour Zoom session to brush up on your camera skills or discuss your equipment needs. Message Mike to make arrangements for a pre-workshop session.

Register - Registrations open on January 3rd and are taken by phone at Bear Creek Nature Center. Call 719-520-6387 or 6388.

Workshop Date
Start Time
Cost Per Person
Spots Left
Friday, April 21, 2023 9 PM $300 Call 719-520-6387 or 6388 6
Monday, May 22, 2023 9 PM $300 Reistration opens for all dates January 3rd 6
Tuesday, June 20, 2023 9 PM $300   6
Tuesday, July 18, 2023 9 PM $300   6
Saturday, August 19, 2023 9 PM $300   6
Monday, September 18, 2023 9 PM $300   6


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