Image and Digital Split-tone prints: Joshua Tree

Workshop with Don Messec

Joshua Tree, Image and Print


February 26- March 1, 2024

Photos taken, Platinum-Palladium prints made onsite

Limited to 5 to foster a strong sense of personal connection to this place.

Daily pressures fade away as images appear in unusual frequency wondering any of the photo-rich locations in Joshua Tree National Park. Vast landscapes give way to intimate spaces often by simply turning around. No one leaves the park not having found inspiration among the light, shadows, rocks and desert plants. The moments of recognizing an image to be made can be profound. And that could be the end of it, finding great images to take, but it is not. Getting to take some of your images, turning them into stunning, hand coated, archival prints elevates the experience to a point of true artistic completeness. Holding a print of an image you shot so recently in your hands adds purpose to the next opportunity to make images.

What happens when you go out on a shoot, then process your best shots, make prints while still on site, and then go out and do it again? You make an immediate and deeper connection to the location. And that is what this workshop is all about, create the complete photographic experience – see, shoot, print, see anew. Understanding how we see only starts with taking a photograph. If you never take an image through processing to print, you may miss an opportunity to grow as an artist. This workshop is your chance to go through the entire dialectic process and then go back out and do more.

Many of you who come for this special experience are committed to both the photography and the platinum-palladium printing. In the past I have taught the negative making the way I work in my Santa Fe studio, which is to use Cone inks in my Epson printer. However, many of you have indicated a real interest in keeping your Epson inks in your printers at home and making negatives with those OEM inks. For that reason, I will be teaching negative making with Epson inks in 2024.

What a gift to have such a concentrated time to connect to sky, earth, light, and self in a truly special place for photography. I love sharing places I shoot and the opportunity to be outdoors with other photographers. The workshop will include exploring and considering interesting shooting locations spread throughout Joshua Tree NP. Starting on day one we will go into the park and start drilling down on why we make images as the land and sky around us fill our thoughts. Some days we may reprieve from shooting to get lunch, discuss digital workflow for printing, and other interesting conversations, returning to shoot during evening light. Weather and light dictate our schedule.

There will be an intertwining of group and personal experiences. You may desire being left on your own to shoot, others may want technical or aesthetic input, shooting advice or digital workflow considerations. Once we are on location, participants typically disperse quickly as the photo rich environments pull at you like Sirens’ songs, each in your own direction. These moments, guided by your own visual curiosity, are important interpersonal moments to close off the distractions in our heads and connect with this stunningly rugged but frail place. Sites are selected that allow, even promote, wandering off for personal shot selection. At the end of the workshop, your biggest whimper will be “why can’t we stay!?”​

When it comes time to make digital negatives, coat paper with photosensitive metals, then expose and process prints, everything you need is provided. Trays cover tables, bathrooms become places to dry freshly coated paper, out in the sun to expose, a little bit of bedlam and a lot of happy gasps fill the time. Printing punctuates the experience. And you will know how to do it at home when you leave.

Covid requirements (if needed): Everyone in the group, including non-participating companions must have been immunized. Social distancing and PPE recommendations will be in effect if needed to maintain CDC and California CDC social distancing guidelines. Each participant must have a vehicle for all trips into the park. Also, a Home Test will be done on the first morning. Having done this now for several years in all COVID effected workshops, the Monday AM test has been key to keeping infections from being spread in workshops.

 Supported by

Link to workshop guide Pdf coming soon


What’s Included

In addition to the field trips, each student will receive enough paper, chemicals, and transparency materials for several prints on 8.5×11″ platinum-palladium paper. Images will be smaller so there is a border around the image to show brush marks and handle prints.

Everything to make negatives and prints: Epson printer, transparency materials, coating metals, brush, trays and chemicals.

What you provide

  • Lodging. there are several ways to stay in Twentynine Palms. Try Desert Vacation Rentals run by my very dependable friend of the workshop Patricia Knight in Twentynine Palms
  • Local transportation. The only airport in Twentynine Palms is a busy military base. If you are flying in the area has several choices, Palm Springs PSP (34 miles), Ontario ONT (89 miles), Las Vegas is more of a drive but it can be a great drive with flight and car deals, San Diego is even closer.
  • Meals. Also plan on snacks and lots of water for long days of shooting and printing. I carry lots of extra water and some snacks. Low blood sugar crankiness not permitted.
  • Digital files in the following formats – PSD, jpg, TIFF, RAW. Some images we print will come from shooting during the workshop but having a few images you brought with you can take the pressure off. For images you may want to see in print bring unaltered original capture files in addition to your processed, manipulated versions. It can be useful to go back to an unmodified file to re-interpret the image once you have a print in hand.
  • Digital camera if you have one. There are no processing labs close enough to shoot film for printing during workshop. However, all forms of cameras are welcome.
  • Thumb drive or other portable read/write media
  • Laptop if you have one. Especially if it has Photoshop and/or Lightroom. If you do not have any of this software consider downloading a trial version for the workshop.
  • Large enough luggage and/or box to pack prints, with stiff protector (cardboard or mat board). Digital printing paper will be 8.5×11. Remember this is field printing which means it works best with thoughtful limits. 

That’s it! Any questions about supplies, please feel free to contact us.

Workshop Itinerary

  • Sunday we will gather for snacks, drinks, workshop orientation, introductions. Time and place TBA
  • Monday morning at park entrance. This will be early, morning light is worth loss of sleep!
  • Remaining daily schedule will be set according to opportune weather-photo. Some evenings we will gather for discussions/demos
  • Bring a lunch and fluids everyday. If it works out that we are in town during lunch to haunt one of the few cafes, if Covid safe.
  • Evenings – select 1 or more images to process to B&W for printing.
  • Two days will be mostly if not entirely dedicated to printing, unless of course, weather is photo fabulous.


Reserve your place!

Registration Form

No deposit required


Flying? look at Palm Springs or Las Vegas

Housing? The first couple registrants can contact me about staying at the same “Ranch” I use. There are 2 additional accommodations there. There are several fine options in Twentynine Palms from cute and dated to contemporary hotels and VRBO.