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Capturing Light: Masterpieces of California Photography, 1850-2000

Oakland Museum
March 3 through May 27, 2001

Museum display with Apple PowerBook computer and prototype Better Light Scanning camera in foreground (both circa 1994).

Stephen Johnson's "Dune and Brush, Death Valley, 1995"
from With a New Eye

Capturing Light focuses on rare, vintage works by approximately 100 noted American photographers working in the state over the past 150 years. Stephen Johnson's digital landscape work is included in the show, and is the final image in the exhibition catalog.

Oakland Museum Exhibition Website

Stephen Johnson: Artist's Statement

"My world as a photographer is changing. And it's looking much more like the world I see with my eyes. For me, the advent of digital photography is not about manipulation. Quite the contrary, it is about seeing more clearly, with less interference and delay from the inspiration.

I'm recording colors in my photographs that escape film. Highlight detail is holding and shadow detail is opening up like never before. I am making the first archival color photographs of my career. Grain has vanished. I'm seeing the photograph, when I am photographing, on the spot, when I should. As it always should have been.

The fumes of the darkroom are being displaced by the flicker of a screen. Lung disease, supplanted perhaps, by CRT radiation. Art has always been about risk.

Photography has always seemed magic. The shutter clicks, and some unseeable change occurs on silver coated plastic. Nothing seems to have happened. The weight of the film does not increase with the burden of the light it carries. It is a secret, to be revealed by the spirits in the darkroom. Later.

Now the photograph appears as the image is being recorded. There is evidence that something has happened, visual evidence that a photograph has been made. And it can be studied, probed, rephotographed if necessary. And worked closer to perfection and beauty.

I feel energized and stimulated to work. It is a very exciting time to be involved in photography."

Stephen Johnson Home Page

Last updated on March 7, 2001. For information: sjphoto@aol.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2001, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved.