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‚ÄčAmazing photo ops!

Sandi Wheaton has been photographing the southern California desert ever since its surreal beauty captured her heart during her first visit in 1995.  Her first love was Joshua Tree National Park, but later explorations shifted her focus to abandoned Route 66, and the Salton Sea.  Her award-winning images from these areas has been published and exhibited widely in both Canada and the USA. Now's your chance to explore and photograph these isolated locations with someone who knows where to get the best photos, and when. (more about Sandi's work at You'll also enjoy the camaraderie, collaboration and friendship of fellow photo- and desert-lovers during this photo safari tour through the California desert. 

Note that all levels of photographers are welcome on this tour.  Those not desiring instruction will love the freedom to simply explore and shoot on their own at each location.  Instruction will be provided ongoingly, according to group needs, and often much is learned from casual sharing between participants' varying opinions, their work and experiences.  During some afternoons, we will stay at our home base and share and discuss work as a group, as well as do more structured teaching as required.  (Please note that this is more an exploration/shooting trip, and so we will not delve much into image editing and processing.)


May 9-16, 2020 


Fly into Palm Springs, then drive with group to the Salton Sea area.   During our time in the desert, we will visit a variety of gorgeous national and state parks, as well as many fascinating abandoned sites, reminiscent of old Route 66, and some downright post-apocalyptic scenes (Salton Sea).  See "Itinerary" for more details.

How much?

Tour, ground transportation, airport transfers, and accommodations: $1795 (USD) single room ($1350 pp if sharing a room).  *Return guests are eligible for a discount, contact Sandi about this.*

This fee includes all ground transportation during the tour, entrance to state and national parks visited, and Sandi's services as your tour guide/director, on-location photo instructor, planner, leader and a driver for eight days and seven nights.  (Note that all prices are in US dollars.)

Flights and meals are not included.  We will be staying in comfortable, clean, fully-equipped 2 bedroom homes in a gated community at the foot of the Chocolate Mountains, overlooking the eastern shore of the Salton Sea.  Each bedroom has a double or queen bed, and has its own bathroom attached.  Each home also includes a living room and full kitchen, as well as large outdoor deck and barbeque.  We will be able to buy groceries and make meals together at times, saving time (and money) and being flexible to best take advantage of shooting opportunities.  There are also two swimming pools and four hot tubs for our use, as well as other facilities including laundry and a gym. 

Transportation and food: We will travel as a group in a van with room for our gear.  Bottled water will be provided for the duration of the trip.  When shooting in isolated areas, we will use lunches and snacks that we bring with us, and there will be coolers on board to keep our food fresh.  Meals can also be had at local restaurants while we are on location, as the group desires.  We can enjoy group meals cooked at our accommodations as well.

Location, location, location!

Please note that this tour is designed to get you, the photographer, at the right place at the right time for the best photo ops.  Consequently, many of our meals will be of the "boxed lunch" type on location.  ...and that's what this tour is all about: location, location, location!  This is not a luxury tour - this is a down and dirty, exploring the desert, get great pictures tour!

Are you in?

If so, great!  A deposit of $500 is required to hold your spot and reserve your hotel rooms.  The balance is due by April 1.  This will be a very small group tour, maximum 6 people - so don't delay.

What to pack?

Photo gear: Do bring a tripod, for those long exposures during sunset/sunrise, and at night.   Bring many memory cards for your camera - you don't want to run out of room and have to skimp on your shooting out here, because there are so many awesome shots to be taken!  Additionally, you may want to bring a sensor cleaning kit or air blower in case sand or dust get into your camera.  A circular polarizing filter is an extremely useful accessory to capture those clear, deep blue desert skies.

Sun gear: The sun is very strong in the desert and you need to protect yourself, as we will be outside most of the time.  Be sure to pack a hat, sunblock, and sunglasses.  Additionally, our accommodations feature swimming pools and hot tubs, so do bring a swimsuit to enjoy a dip.  (Tip: a ziplock baggie is a great way to carry your wet swimsuit in your suitcase.  In fact, ziplock bags are immensely useful for packing many sorts of items - pack a few!)

Clothing: The days will be generally hot and sunny (averages in the high 20s/low 30s Celsius), so bring shorts and T-shirts - but know that nights get surprisingly chilly in the desert.  Definitely bring a jacket and/or sweater and long pants, as the average night lows are around 10 Celsius.  You may want sandals for city and poolside use - but these will not do for desert shooting.  Be sure to bring closed shoes and socks to protect your feet from being pricked by cacti and other nasties.  For example, the Salton Sea is lined with piles of dead barnacles, and these sharp bone-like bits can quickly get into your shoes and cause real aggravation - so, the more the shoe covers your feet and ankles, the better.  If you have room, you may even want to pack rubber boots, to allow you to wade into the water or mud in places (not required; just an idea for those adventurous types).