Valley Junkyard Night Photography & Light Painting Workshop

Since 2008 I've taught a series of night photography and light painting workshops in California junkyards with the legendary Troy Paiva. 

Troy has been shooting abandoned places at night since 1989, and has a visionary style of light painting that is amazing to watch. Working directly with him in the field will make you a better photographer. I've specialized in night work for 10 years, and have extensive experience teaching photography and working in the photo industry.

Over a hundred photographers have attended our workshops, and many find them addictive. Half of our attendees are repeat customers. Make the time to do something unique, exciting, and surreal in 2015. A peak experience under the full moon awaits you!

The Spring 2015 workshop was May 1-3, 2015. Future workshop dates are TBD.

The Valley Junkyard is an old-school, post-war junkyard, with thousands of cars from the 1930's to 1990's. Some areas are packed tight with classics, but there are also some clear sections with room to isolate your subject. Perfect for light painting! Pearsonville Workshop alumni will find many similarities between the two locations. All night photographers will find endless possibilities at this amazing junkyard.

The workshop includes 3 afternoons of classroom sessions, and 3 nights of shooting with hands-on instruction. The classroom sessions will include shooting and lighting techniques, constructive feedback, and post-processing tips. At night, you'll have 2 experienced instructors available to help hone your night photography and light painting skills. The workshop is limited to 14 photographers (8 minimum).

Tuition: $975

Workshop Logistics

The official workshop hotel is the Hilton DoubleTree Fresno Convention Center, located at 2233 Ventura Street, in Fresno, CA [Map].  The hotel is where the classroom sessions will be held. And they have waterfalls. Call 559-268-1000, and make sure to book by April 9th to get the special discounted rate.

We recommend arriving on the evening of Thursday, April 30th, and checking out on Monday, May 4th.

At night temps will likely dip into the high 50s after being in the 80s during the day, but you should be prepared for any weather. Make sure to check the local weather the week of the workshop. Significant rain is unlikely, but there are no rainchecks -- we will be shooting, no matter the weather.

Cancellation Policy
If the workshop is full and someone from the waiting list can take your spot, your tuition is refundable minus a $200 cancellation fee. Otherwise your tuition is non-refundable.

We are not responsible for cancellations due to medical or other reasons. No fees will be refunded if you withdraw after the workshop begins. We are not responsible for any fees associated with non-refundable air travel, and recommend the purchase of travel insurance.


While we don't require extensive night photography experience, we do recommend that you have at least attempted low-light time-exposure work in the past. Be prepared to provide us with a link to some work you have online, or e-mail us samples. You must feel comfortable operating your camera in manual mode and understand the relationship between f-stop and shutter speed.

A DSLR, cable release, tripod, and spare batteries are required. We highly recommend bringing a wide-angle lens, flash and a few flashlights. We'll be giving you some gel material samples as well, but if you already have any, bring them. You'll also need a laptop, card reader, and image processing software. A very detailed equipment check-list will be provided via email after you sign up.

Between us we have over 25 years of experience night shooting on film. We are happy to have you along shooting film, however, your film work won't be available for critique during classroom sessions. Let us know if you plan on shooting film and we'll give you some recommendations.

Physical Requirements

You will be spending 3 long nights outside. Temperatures will likely be in the 40s. Strong, comfortable boots and layered, durable clothes are a must. You will be on your feet for 8+ hours each day and night. You will also be spending a lot of time crouching and kneeling while you are shooting. We strongly recommend that you be in good physical condition to attend this workshop.

Workshop Schedule

Our basecamp in Fresno is a 3 hour drive from the San Francisco Bay Area, or 4 hours from Los Angeles. The closest international airport is either Oakland (OAK) or San Jose (SJC). San Francisco (SFO) is not much further away. Fresno Yosemite Airport (FAT) saves you a couple hours of driving, but flights may be more expensive. Whichever airport you choose, try to schedule your trip in order to avoid commute hours for the drive.

We suggest that you arrive the afternoon before the workshop starts. 

The following example schedule is subject to change:

Day One

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Meet and greet at the hotel in Fresno.
1:00 p.m. – Lecture on night photography and light painting technique, and logistics/shooting strategies for the location.
4:00 p.m. -- Classroom ends. Pack gear. Stock up on food and drinks. Travel to the yard.
6:30 p.m. -- Meet at the yard for daylight scouting, photography.
7:48 p.m. -- Sunset (Moonrise at 5:44 p.m. - 95% full)
6:30 p.m. - 2:30 a.m. -- Shooting in the yard.

Day Two

Sleep in and process your images for review.

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Group brunch at the hotel.
1:00 p.m. -- Lecture: Critique images shot the previous night to help you improve your shooting tonight. Bring your best 3 images from last night. Optional: Bring an additional image that didn’t work.
4:00 p.m. -- Classroom ends. Pack gear. Stock up on food and drinks. Travel to the yard.
6:30 p.m. -- Meet at the yard for daylight scouting, photography. 
7:49 p.m. -- Sunset (Moonrise at 6:41 p.m. - 98% full)
6:30 p.m. - 2:30 a.m. -- Shooting in the yard.

Day Three

Sleep in and process your images for review.

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Group brunch at the hotel.
1:00 p.m. -- Lecture: Post-production techniques using Photoshop and Lightroom. Bring 1-2 images for review.
4:00 p.m. -- Classroom ends. Pack gear. Stock up on food and drinks. Travel to the yard.
6:30 p.m. -- Meet at the yard for daylight scouting, photography. 
7:49 p.m. -- Sunset (Moonrise at 7:38 p.m. - 100% full)
6:30 p.m. - 2:30 a.m. -- Shooting in the yard.

Sign up

Contact me to with any questions and to sign up for the workshop!


"I have studied under Joe at several photography workshops over the past 3 years. The knowledge he shares with his classes is voluminous and covers a broad range of topics that usually leave me wanting more and more. His ability to convey complex technical topics such as cameras, post-processing techniques, storage and archival strategies and then effortlessly switch gears to the aesthetics and art of photography is simply incredible. He is an inspiration as well as a wonderful instructor and I'm glad to have continuing opportunities to learn from him." - Denver M.

"This was AWESOME. It was so surreal being in a junkyard on 3 full moon nights in a row. The lighting was exceptional, the place out of this world, the people really cool and the hosts funny, knowledgeable, helpful, accomplished and ready, willing and able to share the secrets and skills they have honed over many years of light painting." - Mark S.

"I really enjoyed my time with you guys.... Forget the photography.... you guys could be a Vegas comedy act." - Art N.

"These guys compliment each other perfectly. They are both friendly and approachable, but speak knowledgeably about all aspects of photography: light painting, equipment, composition, film characteristics, post processing, old cars and trucks, etc. Their enthusiasm for the genre of night photography is infectious, and it makes me want to go out and scout for things to photograph after dark. The venue is unbelievable--there is no way to even scratch the surface of the things available to shoot in a year of full moons. If you have even remotely considered taking this workshop, then do not hesitate." - Dave E.