2024 dates – Eves 6pm-3am – Sun 7 Jul or Sun 4 Aug or Sun 9 Sept or Sun 6 Oct or Fri 8 Nov or Fri  6 Dec   — 

Introduction – Deep Sky for Photographers

This workshop is designed to take you from basic Milky Way style landscape photography into more advanced and fascinating Deep Sky capture. Although taking shots of only distant objects in the night sky without elements of the earth, is a stylistic leap, and can be regarded as more ‘technical’ than artistic, you can still take images which provoke wonder, mystery and appeal – and really add something special to your overall portfolio. But there is indeed a big jump from simple fast wide lens Milky Way shooting on a standard DSLR or mirrorless camera through to complex, multi tens of thousands of dollar, computer driven deep sky imaging using car sized telescopes and specialised cooled cameras but, there is a middle ground, which this workshop explores.

The Blue Mountains are one of the first places west of Sydney where ambient light ceases to be a major issue in astro photography. In the Southern Hemisphere, well from our position in the Blue Mountains, the impressive Milky Way core doesn’t really come much above the horizon between October and March. But there are plenty more things to capture for the aspiring astrophotographer – who wants to go beyond a sweeping bright Milky Way over a dark moody landscape. 

With relatively fast and lightweight telescopes that almost feel like high end DSLR telephoto lenses, combined with very portable tracking devices that fit on normal solid tripods, the world of deep sky imaging is both affordable and easy to learn. This workshop shows you how you can confidently use your own camera body and capture beautiful nebula, distant planets and amazingly detailed moon shots.


You will bring your own camera body and use Gary’s three provided ‘scopes’. Two very high quality long telephoto-like refractor telescopes are designed for tracking and one large reflector telescope for planetary and distant object shooting using video vs stills. Gary has adapters for each and can work with all Canon, Nikon and Sony bodies. If you have a medium fast telephoto yourself, that is also recommended for some aspects of what we will be shooting.

The actual scopes may change but at the time of writing these include: Williams Optics RedCat 51mm (the world’s sharpest 250mm) and Founder Optics 86mm (568mm) and a 8″ mirror reflector/dobsonian large 6ft long scope. There are 4 tracker systems that will be used, the lovely Goto iOptron CEM26 with iPolar which can take up to 11kg payload, one iOptron SkyGuiderPro with iPolar alignment and two portable camera trackers. Each participant will try each to see which works best for them during and after the workshop.

You capture the shots on your camera throughout the session. It is recommended that you also bring a laptop with the equivalent of Photoshop to do basic stacking, or Gary will highlight free software that can do this for you at least two weeks before the workshop.

Focusing on easy moon photography, more complex wide and tracked Deep Sky work and more distant planetary imaging, this workshop begins at 5 or 6pm on the listed date and runs to around 2- 4am depending on the participants stamina and prevailing conditions. 

Example Itinerary

This workshop is designed to capture a range of ‘targets’ through the night, while still keeping things moving and quick vs the more involved all night ‘data’ capturing one image using computer guided large systems. These include:

Astro Cam learning optional


  • 6pm Introduction to the workshop, scopes, tracking, processing… basic more advanced AP (astrophotography) techniques including polar alignment for perfect tracking followed by
  • 7.30pm Single shot AP various aspects of the moon & Milky Way Core (some combined with landscape) – or straight to nebula depending on interests of group
  • 9.30pm After dinner, intro to 10″ reflector photography, 1200mm ‘Reach’. Our planetary targets may include Mars, Jupiter or Saturn or others visible in the sky.
  • 11pm. Some basic processing of previous shots followed by introduction to ‘photographer stacking’ techniques for the rest of the evening
  • 12pm Tracking our first Nebula including Orion, rising in the east, and Carina in the south, impressive and relatively easy to locate/track deep sky objects
  • 1.30pm Processing our nebula stacks and deciding on some final targets to shoot which may include: Magellanic Galaxies, Open Star Clusters, other Nebula like Lagoon, Trifid, Cats Paw, War and Peace, Rosetteor wide aspects of the edge of the Milky Way.
  • 3-4am Close


  • Personal instruction from Gary in the field and in his Training Gallery.
  • Use of professional wide field telescopes / refractors and 8″ reflector scope.
  • Group dinner and late evening snacks/drinks.
  • Transportation from your hotel/vehicle to locations and Gary’s Pulpit Rock Gallery Training room in a luxury 4WD car
  • Use of laptops for post processing instruction if required.
  • If requested, workshop certificate (sent via mail) and exposure of your best image on Gary’s social site/s 

Any questions please email Gary




Cost: $450 per person. In the event of only one out of two booking on a workshop 1 week out, either a full refund will be given or the participant moved to an agreed future workshop. For One-on-One workshops email gary@garyphayes.com 

Please read the Cancellation Policy before booking … 


SUN NIGHT 7 Jul 2024 ‘Deep Sky, Moon & Planets Workshop’

Full amount $450


SUN NIGHT 4 Aug 2024 ‘Deep Sky, Moon & Planets Workshop’

Full amount $450



SUN NIGHT 9 Sep 2024 ‘Deep Sky, Moon & Planets Workshop’

Full amount $450



SUN NIGHT 6 Oct 2024 ‘Deep Sky, Moon & Planets Workshop’

Full amount $450



FRI NIGHT 8 Nov 2024 ‘Deep Sky, Moon & Planets Workshop’

Full amount $450



FRI NIGHT 6 Dec 2024 ‘Deep Sky, Moon & Planets Workshop’

Full amount $450



Note: workshops will only take place with a minimum and maximum of 2 participants so as much personal attention can be given to each photographer and we are more flexible in moving between locations. Full payment for workshops are due 2 weeks before the workshop date. Gary has full public liability insurance covering the group in Blue Mountains NP and his training gallery, an EcoPass for commercial workshops in the Blue Mountains so all appropriate permissions prior to the workshop will have been setup with NSW NPWS office. 

Pre-requisites for most workshops

You will be sent a detailed planning email specific to your workshop, but this gives a little orientation

  • PASSION: It is inspiring to Gary and the other photographers if you have a great attitude and can make the best of whatever the weather throws at us or your expectations of the workshop. We will come away with great pictures regardless.
  • BRING: A good quality solid tripod and familiarity with using it.
  • BRING: A decent quality DSLR or Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera and have a working knowledge of it.
  • BRING: A fast medium telephoto (60-100 ish). Or combinations in zoom lenses.
  • DO YOU: Have a moderate level of fitness and able to walk confidently on rocky terrain with camera equipment (this will vary on each workshop but call for information if in doubt). Gary is not liable for equipment damage, so use protective camera bags at all times when moving between locations or exploring new spots as a group.
  • BRING: For night workshops, headlamps and if cold then some extra layers, gloves, beanies, scarves etc
  • READ: It is recommended that you orientate yourself with the mountains by reading my introduction post A Landscape Photographers Guide to Visiting the Blue Mountains Australia which helps break down the geography and refers to many of the locations we will be exploring.