Stephen Johnson: Digital Landscapes

January 9 through February 20, 1998
Opening Reception: January 9, 1998, 6 to 8pm
Lecture: February 5, 1998, 7 to 9pm

The Photographer's Gallery
536 Ramona Street
Palo Alto, California 94301
650 328-0662

The Exhibition

Landscape photographer Stephen Johnson will be exhibiting recent large format digital filmless photographs at the Photographer's Gallery, 536 Ramona, Palo Alto, California from January 9 through February 20, 1998.

Johnson is in the final stages of photographing his digital national parks project, "With a New Eye," and will be showing selections from this work and other recent digital photographs.

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.


Throughout his career, Stephen Johnson has sought to explore landscape and its magical interplay of light, color and form. From his early work in the Sierra Nevada and at Mono Lake, to his extensive work in California's Great Central Valley, Stephen has maintained a consistent palette and vision.

Pastel color, an emotional response to the natural wonders of the planet, and a concern for endangered lands are themes that run throughout his work. In recent years, Stephen has turned to digital photography, finding great satisfaction in the immediacy, resolution and color fidelity offered by his digital camera.

Stephen's latest project, "With a New Eye," is an all-digital look at our national parks. Selections from this exquisite body of work will be included in this exhibition of his digital photographs.

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

Multi-node QuickTime VR 360 degree of entire gallery (8.9mb downlaod)
QuickTime VR 360 degree View: Front (700k downlaod)
QuickTime VR 360 degree View: Back (700k downlaod)

Invitation in PDF format.
Print Inventory in PDF format.

Review in Palo Alto Weekly

Stephen Johnson Home Page

Last updated on January 31, 1999. Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©1997, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved.