Do You Know Where to Find Elmer's Tree? (Hint: Joshua Tree!)

Elmer's Tree is found near the "Barber Pole" tree in the Queen Valley area of Joshua Tree National Park.  Park folklore says that the tree was named after Elmer Camp,  a park ranger, who used to park his truck at the tree to watch for lightning strikes during the monsoon season.  This Joshua tree suffered substantial limb loss due to the heavy, wet snow that fell last winter.  If you wish to get some great photographs, join us on six workshops where we will share with you great techniques and wonderful venues!

October 17 Keys Ranch Nightscape Photography

With new digital camera technologies, night time has become the right time to make spectacular images! Unlock your creativity and take your photography to a new place in this one-night workshop on the photographic techniques after dark including wide-field astro-photography, light painting and light drawing. Learn how to photograph the night sky with your DSLR camera. Read more

November 6 - 8 Mastering Landscape Photography

What goes into making a great landscape photograph?  We will provide practical guidelines on the gear you need and how to get the most out of it, the creative use of exposure and sharpness, the use of composition and light to create a mood or convey what inspired you to take the photograph, the magic that happens in the digital darkroom and how to unleash the artist within you.  Read more


November 14 Photographing the Hi-Desert

Grab your camera and put on your hiking boots for this intensive all-day photo shoot in Joshua Tree National Park! Craig Fucile will guide the class in seeing the natural beauty of the park through the camera lens. The class will begin with early morning light at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve followed by a mid-morning instructional program. The afternoon session will relocate to a special “photographers only” session at Keys Ranch, focusing on how to capture the buildings and historic remnants at this remarkable homestead. Read more


November 20 - 22 Photographing Soda Springs and the Mojave(new)

Join us for an opportunity to stay in an exceptional part of the California Desert and devote three days to making new photographs. The class is based at the Desert Studies Center, south of Baker, CA. The Center— also known as Zzyzx (zy-zix)— lies inside in the Mojave National Preserve and is a former health spa with interesting buildings, palms, ponds, springs, plus fine views of Soda Dry Lake and desert mountains. Read more


December 5 Winter Light: Photographing the Desert Preserves

Join us for a day of photography in two special desert places off the beaten track: Whitewater Preserve, and Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve. From the Whitewater River, to McCallum pond in an oasis of California fan palms, you’ll experience the beauty of water in the desert. Winter is an excellent season to photograph the low desert, with its cool temperatures, longer shadows and views of distant peaks. Read more


December 5 - 6 Night Sky Photography

If you enjoy photography and are fascinated by the desert night sky, this two-day hands-on workshop is for you! Noted TWAN sky photographer Dennis Mammana will teach participants how to use even the simplest of cameras to create magnificent celestial portraits without resorting to composites and fakery. Read more


To protect the class participants, instructors and the volunteer team, we have reduced class sizes by as much as one third, to accommodate physical distancing in the classrooms, parking lots and trails. We understand that having smaller class sizes may impact the ability of some loyal participants to join our programs, but a safe environment is paramount. Despite reducing class size and the resulting impact on registration income, the Desert Institute has not increased registration fees


Join acclaimed photographer Ellie Pritts as she gives an inside look at some of her most well-loved photos from Joshua Tree. Ellie is an internationally recognized creative named one of TIME's top photographers to follow in the US. In 2017 she was recruited for the launch of @apple on Instagram. She now manages her own social media marketing agency, Supermassive Social.