3 Peaks Photography & Design

Night Sky/Milky Way Photography Workshops at the Paint Mines

2018 Schedule


2018 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. The workshop dates are June 20/21, July 19/20, August 19/20 and Sept 16/17. Space is limited to 6 participants for each date. The cost per person is $199, and part of the proceeds goes to support El Paso County nature centers.

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.

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).

The tentative schedule for each workshop is as follows (see times in chart below):

10 PM - Check in at the main entrance to the park next to the restrooms, check gear, instruction
11:00 PM Hike into the park, setup and photograph the night sky
5:30 AM - Photograph the sunrise
7:00 AM - Leave park

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 6-8 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 during the colder months 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 - 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


Those wishing to stick around for the sunrise portion of the workshop can join us for breakfast at a location to be determined. Breakfast meals are not included in the price of the workshop.

Testimonials from our Night Sky Workshops in Westcliffe

"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

Register - Registrations are taken through the El Paso County Nature Center Public Programs website

Workshop Date
Start Time
Cost Per Person
MW Rise
Spots Left

March 16/17, 2018

2:44 am
New Moon
April 14/15, 2018
11:30 pm
12:51 am
New Moon
June 20/21, 2018 10:00 pm $199 10:27 pm 1:48 pm Call 719-520-6388 6
July 19/20, 2018 10:00 pm $199 10:13 pm 12:52 am Click Here 6
August 19/20, 2018 9:00 pm $199 9:28 pm 1:15 am Click Here 6
September 16/17, 2018 9:00 pm $199 8:36 pm 11:53 pm Click Here 6
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