Quick Photographs from a 2013 Visit

Flora and Form: from Orchid Gardens to Digital Lab


Thursday Evening April 6, 2017 7-10pm through Friday-Saturday April 7-8, 2017. 9am to 5pm

Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery and Shelldance Orchid Gardens. Pacifica, California.

$495.  Registration online or by phone 650 355-7507.    There is one scholarship spot in this class.

Topics Include

  • Composition
  • Digital Exposure
  • Still Life Photography
  • Macro lenses
  • Extension Tubes
  • Depth of Field Expansion (Focus Stacking)
  • White Balance
  • RAW Processing
  • Image Aesthetics

Have you ever visited a nursery or greenhouse, and thought about how great it would be to capture the beauty, color, line and form of an orchid, or unusual succulent that inspires you and preserve it in a photograph? Access can be hard, and using a tripod can be impossible and not allowed. Perhaps you hesitated because you felt the need for instructional help with the technical, aesthetic and compositional framework to make it happen.

This workshop is designed to enable careful photography exploring the wonder and beauty of orchids and other-worldly flora. We want to encourage slowing down, taking the time to make a well-crafted photograph built from these beautful forms, your own emotional reactions, and studied composition.

We are lucky to have this exclusive and private access workshop at the very special Shelldance Orchid Gardens Nursery. (voted Best Specialty Nursery in Northern California by San Francisco Magazine.)

Filling an evening and two full days, this workshop is designed to help you make stronger photographs by empowering your craft, vision and compositional skills along with some specialized technique for flower imagery. Tripods are encouraged.

Older Workshop PDF

John Klingel Show

Student John Klingel
John Klingel Show

May 2013 Flora Class

A Few Photographs from Shelldance Orchid Gardens

Workshop Details

Evening Pre-Meeting: We will begin at the studio/gallery, from 7pm-10pm the first night, with topics covering: macro and other appropriate lenses, camera settings, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, lighting, depth of field expansion techniques with tools like Helicon Focus, tripod usage and the important steps in setting up interesting compositions.

Day 2: We will meet from 9am-5pm at Shelldance Nursery on Hwy 1 in Pacifica, CA. Shelldance Nursery is a very special place and unique among nurseries, as it is modeled after a tropical rainforest and offers an impressive collection of orchid varietals, cacti, succulents and the largest private collection of bromeliads in the world! We will walk about the rooms, taking full advantage of the compositional opportunities found in the sensuous line and form of the colorful orchids, bromeliads, flowering cactus, otherworldly succulents and architectural features of the greenhouse.

Specially issued discount coupons will be available at the nursery if you fall in love with your models while photographing and would like to provide a loving home.

Day 3: We will meet from 9am - 5 pm at the Studio/Gallery where we will work in our Digital Lab. You will be guided through a workflow process from offloading your photos, to working with RAW processing and image editing techniques.

These two days and an evening will be spent exploring the tools really needed by photographers for fundamental image control in the camera and finishing. Color correction, careful tonal control, and preserving options into archive versions of your files will be our primary concerns. Software concentration will be mainly on Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS6. A number of images with various challenges will be worked through to satisfaction during the course of the workshop. Full lab access is provided. Some previous exploration of Photoshop is useful.

As is always the case, Stephen's workshops are full of information and he works to create a relaxed atmosphere where questions are answered, inspiration is at the core and people return for more.

Overnight Accommodations near Stephen Johnson Photography in Pacifica, California

Credit Card Registration by phone 650 355-7507


bioPhoto by Fiona McDonnell


Stephen Johnson

A photographer, teacher and designer, Stephen has been teaching and working in photography since 1977. His books include At Mono Lake, the critically acclaimed The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland and Making a Digital Book. He runs his own photography, publishing and design company--scanning and designing his photographic books using a Macintosh computer and since 1994 photographing in the field with digital view cameras.

Current projects include With a New Eye, his groundbreaking and historic all digital national parks project, a new book Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography for O'Reilly, ongoing portfolio development and extensive lecturing.

Stephen's pioneering work in digital photography, desktop color separations and digital imaging has included software and product development for clients such as Apple, Adobe, Eastman Kodak, Leaf, Ricoh and SuperMac. His work with Adobe includes the creation of the duotone curves shipped with their Photoshop software.

His photographic clients have included the Ansel Adams Publishing Trust, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Friends of Photography. Johnson's photographs have been widely published and collected internationally.

Apple Computer recognized Steve in 1997 with a ColorSync Profiling Excellence Award along with his good friend Bruce Fraser. In 1999, Folio Magazine declared the publication of Johnson's digital photographs in Life Magazine to be one of the Top 15 Critical Events in magazine publishing in the twentieth century. Stephen Johnson was named as a 2003 inductee into the Photoshop Hall of Fame, recognized for his achievements in Art. Canon named Steve as one of their Explorers of Light in 2006. In 2007 X-Rite named Stephen as a founding member of their exclusive Coloratti group of photographers and educators honored for their skills in color management.

In 1997, Life Magazine described Stephen Johnson as an artist that "...applies science to nature and creates art." His images create "...an intimacy that brings subject and viewer close in ways conventional photographs cannot." 

The Photographer’s Gallery wrote in 1998: “Stephen Johnson's photography rides on the "bleeding edge" of photography's transition to a digital media. Schooled in the traditions of fine-art western landscape photography, Johnson has taken his understanding of traditional photographic processes and brought those skills to bear on the emerging technologies and aesthetics of digital photography. He has pushed technology companies to rise to the best of what imagemaking can be, and pushed his own vision of how we see and record light in the natural world. This has led him to conclude that the way we have traditionally captured images with silver-based photography has been a poor and distortive view of the real and rich world before our eyes. His photographs look almost "unphotographic" in their clarity and purity of color. He shows us a world we know, but rarely see on paper. His is a truly remarkable vision.”

Refunds and Cancellation (note changes)

This workshop is financially dependent on adequate class registration. Where minimum enrollment requirements are not met, the class will be canceled, and a full refund given. You will be notified at least one week in advance if a workshop is not going to take place. Student initiated cancellations received prior to one month before the workshop will receive credit for a future workshop of similar value, a 50% credit will be given for notice received at least 2 weeks immediately prior to the workshop (a full credit less a $50 overhead fee will be given if another student is able to fill the spot from a waiting list). No credit will be given if cancelled less than 2 weeks prior to the workshop. Credits need to be redeemed within one year.

For information on these seminars email info@sjphoto.com or call 650 355-7507.

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Last updated on March 8, 2017 . Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2016, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.