Sandra Lee Photography | 2018 Badlands National Park Spring Escape




Presents … SOUTH DAKOTA – A Photographic Workshop


Badlands National Park Spring Escape

June 4 – 9, 2018


With trip leaders – Sandy Zelasko & Irene Hinke-Sacilotto



"Badlands & Bison"

                                                  “Badlands & Bison”




During this South Dakota photo tour, we will explore Badlands National Park and locations in the vicinity. On most days, we will be in the field at dawn to take advantage of the early morning light. Likewise, we will end each day’s activities at sunset. When the sun is low in the sky, the light accentuates the relief and texture of the land. Colors are warm and the contrast soft, so details are not hidden by the dark shadows present at noon-time. At dusk and dawn, animals are more active and easily located. We will reserve mid-days for rest, reflection, image transfer, and travel between locations. There will be a variety of photo opportunities, including both scenery and wildlife.

                                                                     “Badland Formations and Changing Light”




Once the site of an ancient sea, the South Dakota Badlands have been transformed over thousands of years into the land you see today. Layers of sediment and ash were eroded away leaving behind multi-colored rocks and boulders balanced on pedestals of stone. Eroded canyons and isolated buttes stand as testament to the power of the wind and rain. At first glance, the land seems sterile, yet close examination reveals a variety of creatures. Agile bighorn scale steep canyon walls. Pronghorn antelope and bison graze on the succulent prairie grasses while hawks circle overhead. A loop road travels through the northern portion of the park providing easy access to unusual geologic formations and favorite wildlife haunts.


An active prairie dog town lies along Sage Creek Rim Road. The colony’s occupants are enjoyable to watch and photograph as they groom, nibble on grasses, and romp playfully with their siblings. Now and then a shrill alarm call ripples across the colony warning of a potential intruder — perhaps a badger or coyote in search of a meal.


South of the Sage Creek area in the second unit of the park is Sheep Mountain Table. At the base of the plateau are formations with rocks balanced on limestone pedestals. A rough dirt road climbs to this high, flat plateau which is isolated from the surrounding terrain by deeply cut canyons. On top, the views are spectacular. Dirt roads extend like fingers to a variety of vantage points on the rim of the table.



           “Nibbling Prairie Dogs”                                                                                                      “Sheep Mountain Table”



This Badlands National Park Spring Escape photography workshop begins Monday, June 4, 2018 at 3:30 PM and ends Friday, June 8, 2018 at noon. Photographers of all levels are encouraged to participate. A low student to instructor ratio affords individual attention and flexibility.


Please plan to arrive and check into your hotel in Wall, South Dakota in time for the group orientation at 3:30-5:00 PM, June 4, 2018. Orientation will be held at the Best Western Plains, 712 Glenn St, Wall, SD 57790 in the breakfast room. The orientation will include participant introductions, discuss safety and ethics, logistics of the trip, your goals for the workshop and a slide show of the area with images from your instructors.


Plan your trip to include at least four overnight stays in Wall, SD beginning June 4, 2018 checking out Friday, June 8th unless you are extending your stay beyond the scope of this workshop. You are responsible for transportation to and from Wall, SD and throughout the park every day. You can reserve and pick up a rental car at the airport in Rapid City, SD if you are flying in for the workshop. Rapid City (RAP) is the nearest airport to Wall and is approximately 55 miles or a one hour drive east on Interstate 90.


Wall, SD has one hometown grocery store, gasoline, lodging, eateries and of course the famous Wall Drug (where you can shop till you drop). Your trip leaders will be staying at the Best Western Plains (mentioned above) and highly recommend you book your stay here also. Mention this workshop and they have a discounted rate set aside for you. Book by calling (not via the internet) 605-279-2145 and referencing the name of this workshop, Badlands National Park Spring Escape.


Your instructors have an exciting workshop planned for you however, note that this itinerary will be flexible in response to weather, lighting, availability of animals, client safety and/or desires of the group. Midday hours are set aside for lunch, on your own or with the group, personal errands, a nap, image review or you can continue shooting. Your instructors will be available and welcome your questions although they will need time to review upcoming activities.


A typical day will go something like this: Meet before civil twilight (this time of year that will be approximately 4:30 AM depending on where we will start the day), to photograph sunrise, scenery and wildlife in the area. Depending on what we find, we may stay in a location a significant length of time before moving on to the next scheduled spot. We will break for lunch (picnic or back to town) and then resume photographing in the afternoon until twilight (approximately 9:00 PM). There is no night photography scheduled for this workshop but you may wish to include this opportunity in a dark sky region. We will have a Third Quarter moon with 53% left side illumination on June 6th. Use foreground objects to add scale and content to your image.   


Plan your breakfasts to go and have snacks, water and lunches available in the event we stay longer at a location than anticipated. Your hosts will have water and snacks for you while in the field but we suggest planning carefully by purchasing food for lunch on days we will not have access to a store or a restaurant. Please let us know if you have food allergies or a medical condition that might conflict with our snack choice. We will do our best to accommodate your needs. Bring a refillable water bottle.


Places high on our list to photograph are:


  • Pinnacles Overlook
  • Robert’s Prairie Dog Town
  • Sage Creek Area
  • Badlands Loop Road
  • Cedar Pass Area
  • Door, Notch, Window and Fossil Exhibit Trails
  • Buffalo Gap National Grasslands
  • Sage Creek Rim Road
  • The town of Scenic

“Northern Flicker”

Text Box: “Northern Flicker”Sheep Mountain Table (Stronghold Unit, if roads permit)



This workshop is designed for the nature photographer. We will spend time in the areas with the best photographic possibilities and lighting. Conditions in the field will vary. There will be a small amount of hiking on boardwalks, over rocky areas but mostly on level, well-worn paths. We will search for wildlife such as bighorn sheep, prairie dog, pronghorn antelope, bison, mule deer, birds, flora and more. We should encounter all of the above and will concentrate on getting the best possible images while adhering to responsible wildlife guidelines set forth by the National Park Service. June is a perfect month to see newborn animals and we will be extra careful not to disturb our subjects.




  “Mule Deer Mom & Newborn”

Text Box:   “Mule Deer Mom & Newborn”

  “Blue Grosbeak”

Text Box:   “Blue Grosbeak”



PRICE: $1095 per person, five days – Open to 8 participants (Minimum of 4 participants necessary at the quoted price. Note: In the event there less than 4 participants, a small group supplement of $250 will be added to the price above for each person.)


Start date/time: June 4, 2018, 3:30 PM          End date/time: June 8, 2018, noon


Deposit: $300 to hold a spot in this workshop. Balance is due by May 4, 2017. Make your payment out to Sandra Lee Photography and mail to 15864 Severino Lane, Valley Center, CA 92082 or call 760-749-2174 to process your credit card. Visa, MasterCard, check and money order are all acceptable forms of payment.


What is included:

< >Two instructors/trip leaders, Sandy Zelasko and Irene Hinke-Sacilotto.Field sessions, personal instruction and image critiques when our schedule permits.Combined 30+ years of instructional experience.Snacks and water during the workshop. 


Not included:

< >Lodging, airfare to/from, transportation throughout the workshop and meals. Participants are urged to ride-share to shooting locations.Badlands NP entry fees. Please bring your America the Beautiful pass or senior pass that will cover your entry fee. Vehicle $20, valid for 7 days, Individual $10 pp 16 and older, valid for 7 days. If you ride-share, one pass will cover four passengers in one vehicle. Trip insurance. You are encouraged to purchase trip insurance in case of an unforeseen emergency which requires you to cancel. 


Cancellation policy:  

< >Cancellations 75 days prior to workshop, full refund, less $50 processing fee.Cancellations made between 74-46 days prior to workshop, forfeit deposit.Cancellations made 45 days from the start of the workshop are non-refundable.          



  “Yellow Mounds Area”

Text Box:   “Yellow Mounds Area”                         


   “Prairie Dog Alert”

Text Box:    “Prairie Dog Alert”




To help plan your trip, visit the Badlands National Park website at Workshop dates were selected so that participants may have an opportunity to explore additional attractions in and around the Black Hills of South Dakota. Below are a few helpful links for planning your trip.


Lodging suggestions:

< >Best Western Plains - Book by calling (not via the internet) 605-279-2145. Mention Badlands NP Spring Escape for a discounted rate.Americas Best Value Inn - 8 - Cabins Motel - Lodge - 


Additional attractions in the Black Hills region:

< >Mount Rushmore - Parks - State Park - Rapid City - Cave National Park - 


Suggested packing:

< >Bring a laptop with photo editing software. (A more extensive packing list will be sent upon registration.) 


If you have questions, please feel free to give either instructor a call. Sandy can be reached at 760-749-2174 and Irene can be reached at 410-679-2873.





   “Baby Bighorn Sheep”

Text Box:    “Baby Bighorn Sheep”    


   “Kestrel with meal”

Text Box:    “Kestrel with meal” 




   “Badlands Storm”

Text Box:    “Badlands Storm”



Sandy Zelasko, DBA Sandra Lee Photography is an authorized permittee with the National Park Service and maintains a CUA Permit in Badlands National Park for the purpose of field guided photography instruction. 




  “Western Bluebird”

Text Box:   “Western Bluebird”           


  “Pronghorn Early Morning Light”

Text Box:   “Pronghorn Early Morning Light”





  “Sunset & Clouds”

Text Box:   “Sunset & Clouds”

  “Third Quarter Moon”

Text Box:   “Third Quarter Moon”





  “Bighorn & Badlands”

Text Box:   “Bighorn & Badlands”





Thank you for considering Sandra Lee Photography Workshops and Osprey Photo Workshops & Tours for your Badlands National Park Spring Escape adventure. We know there are many photography workshops to choose from. You will find our small class size leaves time for enhanced personal attention and photographic discussion. Please visit the links below for more information.