Astromaster La Palma Reviews

Night Sky Photography Workshops, Tours, Talks

Other reviews: Iceland Aurora Tours, Maine Stargazing & Photography, California Nightscapes

Ed Rojas, UK (May 2022) I decided to join the workshop to not only learn from the best in Babak, but to also visit this mythical island and do some night photography. In the end, I can confirm it is real and an absolute paradise for Astrophotographers! =)

The entire week was fantastic. Trekking around the island with Babak and Ana was a pleasure. Every night was a different location with different challenges. The locations were amazing, I felt as if I got to see a good portion of the island in one week. I also enjoyed the suggested approach to photography of telling a story with your images.

The best night, IMO, was of course the night on top of the mountain at the observatories.  Not only did we get a fantastic tour of the telescopes and area during the day, but the night sky was absolutely perfect and breath taking!  The vista, landscapes, zodiacal light, clouds below, the milky way and everything during that full on 24 hour day and night workshop made the whole trip 100% worth it. Take me back!

Babak was very helpful and patient with everyone, Anna and her crew were always on their toes and getting us to the best spots depending on the day’s conditions, and none of it was a hassle for them.  They were VERY accommodating and I really appreciated that.  There was always something to learn – a new technique or approach to this field of photography and I’m grateful for that. 

Babak’s advice, tips and strategies that he shared with us everyday were great to learn about. Not only techniques, but history and scientific theory behind it all really tied it all together and gave this hobby even more purpose.  Then, putting all of this into practice each night was great fun.   It can be a bit exhausting, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!  

Maybe if we could spend a little more time on processing in class that could be good to know and useful. 

Babak let me use his diffuser filter, which was eye opening to me and I definitely need to get one now.  By the end of the week, I had a good amount of practice with my portable star tracker which I have been itching to use for a long time now.

Keep up the great work and enthusiasm. I look forward to joining you all on another trip soon. 

Photos ©Ed Rojas

Bernard Lenssens, Belgium (May 2022) If you want to level up your astro and night sky photography knowledge significantly… nothing comes close to this …. I wanted to attend the workshop again to meet interesting people from different regions of the globe, all sharing the same passion. This was a real opportunity to enhance my level of understanding of the night sky and how to shoot high quality images.  The daily classroom lectures and the nightly itinerary were perfected balanced. My expectations were exceeded. I enjoyed the overall ambiance of the team, I enjoyed the group, and the teacher. But above all: the quality of the explanations, and the simplicity and humility of Babak and his team. The important technical skills I learned included mastering deep sky photography with a star tracker, learned about deep sky photography, constellations, and deep sky objects. And I also used longer focal length lenses (instead of using only wide angle lenses). 

Photos ©Bernard Lenssens

Brian Fanning, Oregon (May 2022) I really appreciated Babak’s work and wanted to learn from someone who was an expert in the type of photography I enjoy. The workshop exceeded my expectations. I got all of the astrophotography education and opportunities for photography that I expected, but I also really appreciated Babak’s lectures. One of my favorite aspects of the Astromaster workshop was the scientific education that accompanied the photographic instruction. I don’t think I’d ever heard about, let alone seen, zodiacal light before this course. But Babak Tafreshi’s excellent classroom instruction prepared me for this amazing sight. This workshop provided me with a better understanding of time lapse techniques and how to incorporate time lapse photography into my artistic vision. This workshop significantly improved my photography skills by providing me with the information and feedback to refine techniques I’d already started to develop as well as multiple opportunities to practice those techniques.

Photos © Brian Fanning

Amirreza Kamkar, Germany, (May 2022) I wanted to join the Astromaster Workshop to visit the island itself and learn from Babak. The lectures and photography sessions cover all the topics and were complementary. It was an amazing workshop, several photo sessions at great locations at night, and daytime classes about various topics (technical, post-processing, light pollution, storytelling, etc) in daytime.  Babak provides insights about storytelling as a photojournalist, in addition to all the great technical lessons. The most important technical skill I learned during this workshop experience was mainly the potential of post-processing in ACR/Lightroom and how to do that correctly.

Photos © Amirreza Kamkar

Marco Ruiz, Costa Rica, (May 2022) Astromaster is a unique opportunity to learn from the pros in theory and in practice in a place with has one the darkest skies in the world. I enjoyed sharing with wonderful people from all over the world with common interests, and the beauty of La Palma and its people very well represented by Ana and Candy, Babak’s local partners.

I wanted to join Astromaster because I attended a night sky workshop in Iceland in 2019 and it was clear to me that I needed better preparation, that’s why I attend the Astromaster in La Palma. I had to wait 2 years because of pandemic restrictions. The workshop met my expectations by providing for better understanding of composing a night sky photo, and I was able to practice different techniques to achieve success. Every night we would go out to shoot and had to prepare for it, the daytime lectures provided the knowledge that you practice during the night.  Babak and Ana and the group were always ready to help.

The most important technical skill I learned during this workshop was Time lapse for astrophotography, which was very important to me. I had plenty of opportunities to practice this technique in different scenery around the island.  Additionally, I think it is important for participants to arrive at least two days in advance of the start date, especially if you come from another time zone to adjust for time difference,

Photo © Marco Ruiz

Vanessa del Campo, Belgium/Spain (May 2022), It was a great experience, it made me feel closer to the night sky. I enjoyed spending time photographing the stars and getting to know the other participants and being in La Palma, which is beautiful.  I took the workshop because I wanted to learn how to create time lapses of the starry night for a film project. I think I now have the tools to create what I wanted to learn, but I feel I will still need some advice.
My thoughts on the daily classroom lectures and nightly itinerary: I feel that the moments when Babak was explaining how to edit the pictures, time lapses, etc, were not very useful for me because I had never done it, and therefore, could hardly follow. It would have been easier for me if I was doing the same thing on my computer at the same time he was doing it. Or, alternatively, if I was trying alone with my computer and he would come to solve problems or check how I can improve. During the nights, I felt a bit lost too, especially the first days. It was the first time I was taking photographs at night and I did not know where to start. And the fact that all is dark doesn’t help :D. The most important technical skill I learned during this workshop was how to use my camera to photograph the stars. I would have liked to have the opportunity to practice with a star tracker and some other focal lengths, to see what it is about. I would have liked to practice with a telescope and a phone attached to the telescope (I’ve seen some people use it like this to photograph the moon).

Photo © Vanessa del Campo

Klahr Thorsen, New York (May 2019) A great way to keep increasing my skills – Astromaster brought me up to the next level.

Photo © Klahr Thorsen

Alessandro Lavatelli, Italy (May 2019) Physically demanding but definitely worth it. Great to have one of the best skies in the world at night and at the same time nice, sunny days. Here is a timelapse video of our night activity.

Photos © Alessandro Lavatelli

Puya Hosseini, California: (May 2018) Wonderful experience. Great lessons. Even better one on one feedback while shooting. Learned so much and it improved my nightscape photography so much, I’m so grateful.

Photos ©Puya Hosseini

Chirag Upreti, New York (May 2018) This is an intensive and advanced workshop by Babak and his colleague Ana García Suárez. Our group had people with all different skill levels, beginner to advanced and we all learned a lot by the end of the trip. Babak always does a great job of making everyone comfortable with their own skill level. What attracted me most to this workshop was the opportunity to spend a night at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory (ORM), on the rim of the Taburiente National Park, at 2396 meters above sea level. This is such a terrific location because you float above the clouds and the night sky is the best I have seen in transparency. We got to tour the largest optical telescope in the world, Gran Telescopio CANARIAS (GTC) with a staggering 10.4 meter primary mirror. To see the sheer size of the machinery up close is awe-inspiring. From Tajinaste fields, lighthouses, salt pans to these marvels of optical engineering this is an absolutely fantastic workshop to be a part of. There are also special lectures during the day from invited guests that add to the learning element of Astromaster. For our group, Martin Heck came in to teach us details in timelapse photography. If time would permit, I would go to Astromaster every year, it is a GREAT workshop. I was privileged to get two images published in Astronomy magazine that I took on this trip. That itself is the biggest proof of the high quality offered at Astromaster.

Photo © Chirag Upreti
Photo © Chirag Upreti

Emanuele Balboni, Italy (May 2016) Great. I loved the lectures and the shooting sessions. A full time workshop: very challenging but definitely worth it.

Photo © Emanuele Balboni