A Crash Course in Night Photography at a Celebrated, Historic Cemetery

Have you ever wanted to learn the nuances of off camera lighting and night photography? Would you like to create whimsical, colorful images of monuments and landscapes using the light of the full moon? California Preservation Foundation and Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation are offering an exclusive opportunity to learn all of the functions of your advanced digital camera and create sweeping, well-lit images of one of the largest, most renowned memorial parks in California.

This workshop will be limited to 25 attendees, so register early before spots fill.

Colma is a uniquely Californian necropolis. Its 1,500 living residents are outnumbered by 1.5 million buried residents. Among its rolling hills and verdant greenery is Cypress Lawn, home to some of the West's most famous leaders and thinkers, including the Hearst family, Claus Spreckels, and Hubert Howe Bancroft. Cypress Lawn also holds the largest collection of stained glass in the country.

The workshop includes five hours of instruction. A tour of Cypress Lawn's most stunning features will be followed by an in-class study session and an on-site night photography workshop taught by renowned night photographer, Troy Paiva. You'll learn about the history of Cypress Lawn, visit its grandest and most magnificent crypts, and spend 2 hours in the field with hands on instruction on how to use your digital camera in the dark. This course is appropriate for anyone interested in photography, cultural landscapes, San Francisco Bay Area History, and memorial architecture. All skill levels are welcome, though the course will train you in basic to intermediate night photography and lighting techniques.

A camera with manual settings (i.e. an SLR or DSLR), flashlight, remote/manual shutter release, and tripod are required for this course. We recommend that you have a basic working knowledge of the relationship between shutter, iso (film speed), and f-stop in order to comprehend many of the techniques being taught at the workshop.

Tour Leader

  • Terry Hamburg, Director, Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation


  • Troy Paiva, Published Photographer and Pioneer in off-camera Lighting and Night Photography has been using light painted, full moon-lit night photography to capture the American West for 25 years. Mr Paiva only shoots at night, by the light of the full moon, using minutes-long exposures to capture the palpable passage of time onto a single frame. He augments the scene with hand-held light–frequently colored–during the exposure, treating the site like a dark stage set, using theatrical and cinematic techniques to manage the composition, create mood, and lead the viewer’s eye.Since 1999, Mr. Paiva’s website has gone viral repeatedly, spawning over 100 million hits. His imagery has appeared in print in over a dozen countries and two award-winning monographs: “Lost America: Night Photography of the abandoned Roadside West“ in 2003 (Motorbooks International), and “Night Vision: The Art of Urban Exploration” in 2008 (Chronicle Books). His work has appeared in museums and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Sweden and San Francisco.
  • Jon Haeber, Field Services Director, California Preservation Foundation is a published author and Public Historian. He has consulted on interpretive exhibits for museums and nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts and California, and played a key role in the historic preservation study for a Henry Hobson Richardson rail station in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He is the recipient of the 2013 Preservation Award from the Holyoke Historical Commission. Jonathan’s 2011 book from Furnace Press, Grossinger’s: City of Refuge and Illusion, examined the history of the Catskills’ most legendary resort hotel through his own large format and digital photographs, interviews, and archival research. Jonathan has a Master of Arts degree in United States History with a Certificate in Public History from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Geography from the University of California, Berkeley. Jon grew up in a rural town near Roseburg, Oregon. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, or Facebook.
  • Scott Haefner is a professional photographer based in the San Francisco Bay area who frequently shoots in places that most people choose not to venture. Photographing abandoned buildings and other forgotten places, often under the cover of darkness, is what captivates him the most. His work has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, BBC News, Photo District News and Photo Techniques, as well as specials on the Discovery and History Channels.