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Eastern Sierra Fall Color, Mono Lake, Bristlecones, Alabama Hills Photo Tour

Sep 28 - Oct 4, 2023

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Join me as I co-lead a fun and diverse photography adventure in the eastern Sierra Nevada's with one of my favorite landscape photographers, Joshua Cripps!

California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range drops off dramatically into the high desert country of the Eastern Sierra. From towering granite peaks, to picturesque lakes, to fantastic forests, the scenic and varied landscapes are a photographer’s delight. This photo tour will visit such icons as Mono Lake, the Alabama Hills, the Owens River Valley, groves of quaking aspens, and much more.

On this photo tour you will be able to create beautiful photos of the breathtaking and varied landscapes of the Eastern Sierra. During this tour we will be photographing dramatic granite peaks, snowmelt-fed alpine lakes, fascinating rock formations and arches, cascading streams, the ancient Bristlecone Pines, and otherworldly Mono Lake tufa towers. On top of that, early October is the best time to photograph aspen trees as their leaves turn blazing gold and crimson.

The Full Moon.

We timed the beginning of this trip to coincide with the September Full Moon. Just imagine: moonlit granite spires, the moon rising behind a stately Bristlecone, or setting beyond the magnificent Sierra Crest. These are all things you’ll experience on this tour.

The Milky Way.

With the full moon occurring at the beginning of the tour, the final days of the trip will allow for beautiful dark night stars.

Dates: September 28 - October 4th, 2023

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Class Size: 9

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Spots Available: 6

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Difficulty: Easy - Moderate

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Investment: $4395 (Lodging & Meals* Included)

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Prepare for scenes like these:


-"If you're considering attending one of Sean Parker's workshops, let me say as an alumni that after spending a few informative and inspirational days with Sean, you will be prepared to photograph EPIC star pictures of the kind that you now can only dream about. I highly recommend that you book Sean's workshop now!" -Tony Prince

-"This workshop was wonderful to attend. Each individual student got as much assistance and instruction as needed. The opportunity to create dramatic images becomes much easier after working with the Starman, Sean Parker." -Gary Smith

-"After attending Sean's amazing workshop, I took the post processing class. The photo was nice to start, but after learning how to edit, the whole thing popped! It made a world of difference. I would highly recommend his workshops!" - Amy Utter

The Tour Experience

Who is this Photo Tour for?

This Eastern Sierra fall photo tour is for upbeat, adventurous photographers who appreciate a wide array of landscapes and scenes. If you love intimate details of colored aspen groves as much as grand landscapes, then this trip is for you. There is a wonderful range of subjects and scales to explore in these areas, and photographers open to all kinds of different shots will find great joy on this trip.

Experience Level

This tour is for photographers of all experience levels, from pros to novices. That being said, you will get the most out of this trip if you understand the basics of exposure and composition.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to know your camera. Understand how to change the settings, how to zoom in to 100% on Live View and on Playback, and how to quickly access the histogram and menus. When the good light is changing rapidly, simply knowing how to work your gear quickly and efficiently will set you up for success.

Group Dynamics

This is a group trip, and morale is a key factor to everyone’s enjoyment. Our favorite kinds of photographers:

– Roll with the punches and go with the flow.

– Respect people from different backgrounds and different styles of shooting.

– Can laugh when Mother Nature throws a monkey wrench into the plan.

– Look for reasons to be excited about the landscape, regardless of the light or conditions. The Eastern Sierra and Payahuunadu (Owens Valley) is a world-class location for photography, no matter whether it’s totally overcast or blazing blue skies. Photographers who are fixated solely on “epic light and clouds” are going to miss out on a lot of beauty. So be open to the opportunities in each moment.

If this describes you, we’d love to have you aboard this tour. Negative, complain-y, or high-maintenance “everything needs to be my way” photographers need not apply. In short, this tour is for anyone who wants to explore and photograph stunning scenery with a fun group of like-minded people. The trip is limited to 9 participants for a small, personal feel.

General Itinerary

Our itinerary is organized to visit some of the most spectacular locations in this special part of California. The tour is 7 days, giving us tons of opportunities to shoot. We’ll set a relaxed pace on the trip, with emphasis on shoots during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, with breaks in the middle of day for meals, optional side-trips, or transit between locations.

Day 1, Arrival Day.

Arrive in Bishop, California, prior to 1 pm. Meet at our group’s hotel for orientation and introductions. We will plan to shoot sunset and moonrise this night.

Days 2 – 6.

We will spend the next five days exploring the most beautiful locations in the region. With his extension knowledge of Mono Lake, the Sierra, the White Mountains, and Payahuunadu (Owens Valley), Josh will lead you to his favorite spots for landscape photography. You can expect to see certain iconic locations, such as South Tufa, Silver Lake, Minaret Vista, McGee Creek, and the Alabama Hills. But there will be far more off-the-beaten path spots that are unique to this tour. The full moon is September 29th, and we will plan many of our shoots on the 28th and 29th around it. These rare experiences are not to be missed!

Day 7, Last Day and Departure.

After a final morning shoot somewhere in beautiful Payahuunadu we will enjoy a last meal together before the tour disbands at approximately 10 am.

 A Typical Day:

5:35 am – meet in the hotel parking lot and drive 15-20 minutes.

5:55 am – walk up to 30 minutes / 1 mile over gentle, rocky ground to our shooting location. 6:15 am – arrive on location 30 minutes prior to sunrise and begin exploring and shooting. 6:45 am – sunrise.

8:30 am – wrap up morning shoot, and walk back to the cars (up to 1 mile). 9:00 am – breakfast (included).

10:00 am – break.

Midday – lunch, rest, import photos, optional talks on approaches to landscape photography.

3:15 pm – leave for afternoon shooting session. Drive 30-60 minutes.

4:15 pm – hike 15-30 minutes / 1 mile over rocky or sandy ground.

4:35 pm – arrive on location 2 hrs before sunset to explore, see the landscape, and shoot. 6:35 pm – sunset / moonrise.

7:15 pm – wrap up afternoon shoot, and return to cars.

7:30 – 8:00 pm – arrive back at hotel for dinner.

— Note that these times are given as a general sense of what to expect. Exact meet times, drive times, and hiking distances will vary day to day. Some drives are as short as 5 minutes, some are as long as 90+ minutes. Some hikes are 2 minutes, some are 30 minutes. We do our best to spread out the long drives and hikes, but we always let the conditions guide us to the best spots each day.

What’s the difference between a photo tour and a workshop?

This is a photo tour, meaning that we are focused on getting you to the right places at the right times to create amazing images. Our goal is to help you connect with the landscape on a personal level so that you can create more meaningful photos. This trip is about having the best possible experience in the Sierra, Mono Lake, the White Mountains, and the valleys in between. That means in addition to shooting we are also enjoying meals together, learning the history of these areas, and allowing for down time so that you can stay rested and excited. We set a relaxed pace during the tour so that you will enjoy each day, rather than feeling exhausted, burned out, or mentally fatigued. This trip is FUN, not boot camp.

If you are looking for a workshop, where we focus on learning specific skills, such as photographing small scenes, black and white photography, sand dune photography, moon planning, or post processing, please check our schedule.

We are here to help, without overwhelming you.

In the field your guides are always available to answer questions, provide guidance and feedback, and give you ideas of how to approach your photography. In short, if you have questions we’re here for you. At the same time, it’s important to avoid spending every field session cramming your brain full of as much photography knowledge as possible, as this only leads to overwhelm and an inability to retain anything.

Your guides will also be shooting photos during the trip, both to provide examples and ideas, and so that you can see the scene through our eyes, get inspiration, and learn about our approaches to photography.

Got Questions? If you have any questions about the tour experience, please email workshops@joshuacripps.com

Location & Accommodation

This tour meets in Bishop, and disbands in Mammoth Lakes, California. For this trip we recommend flying into into Reno, Los Angeles, Burbank, or Las Vegas, each approximately 4 hours by car from Bishop.

Transportation during the tour

Participants are responsible for transportation to, from, and during the tour. However, during the tour we carpool as much as possible so that you can spend time with your fellow photographers, as well as minimize our impact on the landscape.

Most of our locations are within a 30-60 minute drive, though some locations can be as far as 90-100 minutes each way. Trust us, they are well worth the journey.

*The itinerary, meeting and departure points may vary depending on expected conditions in the fall.


Lodging is included in the price of the tour. By default everyone gets their own room in our hotels. If you are attending the trip with a friend or partner and would like to share a room, you will receive a discount on the tour tuition. You may also book your own accommodation at these locations (or nearby). You are also welcome to camp if that is your style. After you have registered for the tour we will discuss the lodging options with you.

WiFi and Cell Coverage

All our hotels have complimentary, high-speed WiFi. Expect good cell coverage in all towns, with hit-or-miss coverage at our shooting locations.

Equipment & Clothing

Camera Gear You Should Bring

– Digital SLR or Mirrorless Camera

– Lenses. We highly recommend you have the following four lenses (or equivalent) to take advantage of the wide variety of scenes you will experience:

– Ultra-wide, such as a 14-24mm or 16-35mm

– Midrange, 24-70mm

– Short telephoto, 70-200mm

– Long telephoto, 100-400mm or 200-500mm (essential for moon photography)

– A sturdy tripod

– Comfortable camera backpack you can hike up to 1/2 mile with at elevation

– Filters (10-stop ND, 6-stop ND, Polarizer recommended)

– Remote shutter release – Rocket blower and shammy cloth, lens/sensor cleaning fluid, lens wipes, sensor swabs

– Extra batteries, charger, and memory cards

Recommended Clothing and Items

Due to variable conditions, we recommend bringing multiple layers of non-cotton clothing, like Merino wool, fleece, or synthetic fibers.

Specifically you should bring:

– Base layers for top and bottom

– A warm jacket and pants

– A windproof rain jacket

– A warm hat and gloves

– Lighter layers for warm days, like a sun hoodie or long-sleeved sun shirt

– A wide-brim hat and sunglasses

– Wool or synthetic socks

– Sturdy footwear that you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy. Lightweight hiking boots or hiking shoes are recommended for most outings.

– A large water bottle and sunscreen

– Flashlight or headlamp

– Trekking poles


Early October is the peak time to experience fall color in the Eastern Sierra. Aspen leaves are changing from green to gold, and sometimes even crimson. The Eastern Sierra escarpment gives us effortless access to 6,000 feet of elevation change throughout marvelous granite canyons, ensuring endless options for finding beautiful fall foliage.

October also marks a time of seasonal change in the weather, as late summer’s stable atmosphere begins to break up. Expect a wide range of conditions, from partly cloudy, to sunny, to possibly even rain and snow.

Overall, temperatures could range from 75°F down to 20°F, so be prepared for a range of conditions. Expect wind (and possibly lenticular clouds) at any time.


Fitness and Physicality: Low-Moderate, 4/10

This Eastern Sierra photo tour is appropriate for photographers of most fitness levels. You should have good balance and mobility. Hiking is minimal, perhaps up to 2 miles total each day. However, we will be at elevations as high as 11,000 ft on this trip. Expect walks of up to 1/2 mile each way to reach certain shooting locations.

Walking in the mountains can be strenuous at elevation and we recommend preparing for the trip by walking at least a few miles per week leading up to the tour. You also may wish to arrive a few days early to acclimate to the altitude. All participants are expected to carry their own camera, personal gear, and water during the tour.

Post Processing

Post Processing is included in this workshop for attendees in our hotel's business meeting room. Josh and I will teach you our successful workflow all the way form importing to exporting your images. You will learn some of the best ways to adjust your photos and reduce noise that is associated with nightscape photography. We will cover how to enhance your photos through Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, and Starstax. These are programs I use and they are the best for making your images really stand out! Please have these programs installed on your laptop before the workshop. You can download a 30 Day Trial from Adobe. Also ensure that your computer is running at optimal speed and you have an external hard drive with enough hard drive space. 

Investment & Terms


A deposit of $1000 is required to reserve your spot. The balance is due 3 months before the tour. Payment can be made via check, bank transfer, credit card, or PayPal. Payments made via credit card / PayPal incur a 3% fee.

See our cancellation and other policies.

Costs in the area:

This is a remote, rural area with a tourism economy, so expect slightly higher costs. Here are some approximate costs:

Coffee – $3-5

Burger and fries – $15-20

Takeout – $20/person

Large Pizza – $30

Beer – $4-8

Breakfast and dinner are included every day on this tour. Most participants eat a hearty breakfast and dinner, and skip lunch or have snacks.

What's Included:

– An incredible tour of some the most photogenic sights of the Eastern Sierra, Mono Lake, Payahuunadu, and the White Mountains

– Quality, professional, photography guiding and instruction on par with your level as a photographer

– 6 nights of upscale, private hotel lodging

– Breakfast and Dinner every day during the tour

– Delicious, endless snacks throughout the tour – Secret surprises along the way

– A fun, positive, interactive learning environment

– A small group size of 9 photographers maximum

– Memories of a lifetime

What's Not Included

– Airfare / transportation to Bishop, California

– Transportation during the workshop (though we carpool as much as possible)

– Lunch

– Personal items, souvenirs, passport/visa fees as applicable, and gratuities

– Optional activities

– Trip insurance


Use the Register button below to register on Josh's website.  If you have any hesitation about signing up, check out the Testimonials at the bottom of the page where clients have shared their experiences. You will receive a detailed itinerary upon completion of payment before the workshop.


Please visit my Workshop Information & F.A.Q page for more information, frequently asked questions, and general inquiries. If you don't find your answer there, please contact me!

About Your Instructors

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Sean Parker

Sean is one of the most passionate artists I’ve ever known, and it is readily apparent in every photograph he takes. Whether it’s spending long, lonely nights in the desert composing gorgeous star trails or peering into the heavens and gradually coaxing out its natural beauty with advanced telescopes and computer technology, he maintains an unrelenting positive outlook and unmatched work ethic.

Knowing firsthand the amount of work required to produce such high quality material, I have profound respect for the mental fortitude required for the journey upon which Sean has embarked. The true mark of a great artist is the constant desire to learn new skills and improve upon the last work, and Sean has these qualities in spades. He has built his incredible set of skills through countless hours of frustrating trial and error, and the amazing thing to consider is that his current output of stunning imagery is simply the tip of the iceberg when compared to the assuredly brilliant career ahead of him.

I’m extremely proud and honored to have had the chance to work with Sean and learn from him, and I am confident that he will find success in all of his pursuits, for he already has laid his foundation as a humble, driven, and meticulous artist.

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Joshua Cripps

Josh Cripps – Lead Guide and Chief Brine Fly Taster

Josh is a full-time, pro landscape photographer who has spent thousands of hours scouting and shooting in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

Josh grew up in the Sierra Nevada and has been exploring their granite peaks and high country meadows since he was a kid. Josh currently lives in Mammoth Lakes, although his true happy place is the Sierra backcountry. He spends as much time as possible each year in the wilderness, drinking from crystal-clear alpine streams and chasing bears away from his dehydrated pasta. He firmly believes that the Eastern Sierra region holds some of the most beautiful places on the planet and he loves helping photographers shoot the place he calls home.

Josh has been leading photo tours and workshops since 2010, and takes pride in providing a top-notch tour experience.

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