sj news logo

Pedro Point Headland and San Pedro Rock. Pacifica, CA 2014. Canon 5DSr. Click to order a print. Next Workshop: Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on: April 23-26, 2016

Welcome to the April 2016 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

We are just now putting to bed an interpretive project on Pedro Point Headlands for the Pacifica Land Trust. So it seemed appropriate to share some of the 3 year long process, a photographer's opportunity to make a difference, and screens from the project.

This month's View From Here column discusses the Virtual Pedro Point Project I've been working on the last few years. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments. Our Tutorial Section explores some of the advantages of video editing in Photoshop.


  • 2016 Spring Workshop Schedule has been posted with these and other great courses coming up. See what a great experience students have had on Steve's Workshops by exploring Workshop Testimonials.

    Fine Art Printing April 23-26, 2016. Join Steve for the high craft hands-on immersion into making your photographs real on paper. Steve has been printing digitally since 1989, longer than anyone teaching printing, and delivers on the promise of education with remarkable clarity and enthusiasm. According to one recent student, the "experience was terrific."

    Flora and Form May 5-7, 2016. 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 beautiful forms, your own emotional reactions, and studied composition.

  • Highway One: May 14-15, 2016. The coastline south of San Francisco in San Mateo County is one of the most beautiful stretches of land and sea anywhere. From eroded, rocky shorelines, to cliffs, long beaches, redwood forests and small towns, this coast is complex and varied. We'll spend the day roaming the coast and mountain roads, stopping at state parks, county parks and checking out the lunch options along the way.

photo review

Steve in daily group discussion with his December Image Editing Workshop.
Photos by Fiona McDonnell.

Scholarships and Mentoring

As part of our ongoing commitment to photographic education, there is one student scholarship spot in many of our classes. Please pass the word along.

For discounted time studying with Steve, keep in mind our Mentoring Program.

With all of our busy schedules and limited budgets, destination workshops or classes become a challenge, but many of you still have questions you need answered, or feedback on some new work. We want to remind you of our Virtual Online Consulting Program. This service allows all of you out there around the globe to consult online live with Steve on technical, aesthetic and workflow issues using Skype and your webcam.

Our Essays and Tutorials from the past couple of years can now be found on our Newsletter Archive and some on Google Blogger.

We hope you can come by the gallery and see the new Panoramic Prints we've added to the National Parks Gallery, and the Exquisite Earth exhibition with its accompanying very special Exquisite Earth Portfolio 1. We invite you to join us on a workshop, rent lab space, or just say hello and let us know what you are up to photographically and what you might like to see us offer. We value your input.


Workshop Testimonials



San Pedro Rock and Surf. 2016.

Sunset and Surf. San Pedro Rock. 2016.
Canon 5DSr

11x13 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each.

This recent newsletter banner print was so positively received, that we decided to make it our featured print this month. The nearing sunset, misty light and breaking surf made it quite a view.


2016 Workshop Schedule
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on: April 23-26, 2016
Flora and Form: from Orchid Gardens to Digital Lab: May 5-7, 2016
Highway One: May 14-15, 2016
Pt. Lobos and Carmel. A Canon Workshop May 21-24, 2016
RAW to Print Bootcamp: June 6-10, 2016
Golden Gate: June 25-26, 2016
Printing Photographic Beauty: July 10-16, 2016. Maine Media Workshops
Vision and Craft Bootcamp: October 2-8, 2016. Maine Media Workshops

printing class

Waiting for Moonrise on Cadillac Mountain. Acadia Workshop. 2015. Peter J Sucy..

Speaking Events (see below)

Follow us onlinesjphoto twitter facebookfacebookgoogle+ bloggerblogger





Surf. Devil's Slide. 2016. Canon 5Dsr

There is endless fascination in breaking surf. When the afternoon breeze blows back the wave cap, combined with the back lighting, the effect can be stunning.


Purchase a print of this photograph

Scenic Values video from Virtual Pedro Point. 2016.
Canon 5D III.

by Stephen Johnson

Documenting and Interpreting a Place.

I have been serving on the board of the Pacifica Land Trust for about 15 years. During that time I have been able to help with photography, graphic design and various other ways. As the PLT has managed the prominent headlands here in Pacifica, the Pedro Point Headlands, we have been working on many projects related to its restoration from motorcycle damage, and to get the land managed in a permanent parkland status. Promoting an understanding and appreciation of this place became an integral part of that process.

About 5 years ago, I was up on the headlands for a walk with my friends Michael Black and Mike Vasey, flushing out an idea for a cell phone based interpretive program about the headlands. It sounded like a great idea, but none of us wanted to go out and raise the money for it, so the idea incubated for awhile. In 2013 we lost Michael Black.

Two years ago, the Pacifica Land Trust applied a grant from the California Coastal Conservancy under their Explore the Coast program to build a cell phone compatible interpretive program for Pedro Points Headlands here in Pacifica. It seemed the money might come from the heavens for our incubating project.

I prototyped the project as a website to demonstrate to the state what we had in mind. We received half the funding we asked for, but were happy that the idea would now be made real. Of course my speculative web site started making it real before there was any funding.

As we are now wrapping up that project, I thought I would share some thoughts about the place, the project and the role as image-makers we can play in helping to preserve open spaces and natural settings.


A Place. Pedro Point Headlands.

walking into solace
into forest
shelter from urban life
truth in the forest
vertical surround
walking up the creek trail
climbing into open sky and brush
trees become sparse
the air starts to taste of salt
with hint of surf
then a precipice
dropping to the sweep of surf and rock
to eternal sea
fog, sun or clouds
the Farallon islands usually in sight
sometimes lost in white

edge of land
great precipice
complex folding land
forest, grassland and seascape

enchanted refuge from surrounding towns
distant vistas
mix of life and form
micro climates

some dangers
poison oak
fatal cliffs
potential mountain lion


A Few Photographs from the Virtual Pedro Point Scenic Values Gallery


Coastal Prairie and Linda Mar Bay. Pedro Point Headlands, Pacifica, CA. 2014.
Canon 1Ds III

An increasingly rare example of Coastal Prairie sits atop Pedro Point Headlands. Development and spreading forests have encroached upon the the coastal prairie habit leaving relatively few examples of this environment remaining. The effort to keep the planted Monterey Pine forest from spreading throughout the headlands was in no small part to preserve this habitat.


Eucalyptus Forest. Pedro Point Headlands, Pacifica, CA.. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

The introduced Tasmanian Eucalyptus trees dominate the forests of the headland. Many have argued that these non-native forests should be removed. Not only does this devastate the site for decades, it also does not recognize that despite the fact that it might have been preferable not to have California so inundated with Eucalyptus, these forest do now provide their own own unique evolved novel ecosystem where life thrives.


The Devil's Slide Coast. Pedro Point Headlands, Pacifica, CA. 2015.
Canon 5DSr.

The spectacular ocean vistas are a fundamental part of what makes this place so special. For me, Pacifica's coastline and these headlands are one of the reasons I have stayed in the bay area and Pacifica specifically.

When the collapsing Devil's slide portion of Highway One was bypassed by the tunnel, the old highway became a paved pedestrian and bike trail. It is one of the more spectacular trails I've seen. It's connection now to the Pedro Point Headland to the north with the evolving trail system makes possible a true walk through wonderful vistas.



San Pedro Rock. Pedro Point Headlands, Pacifica, CA.. 2014.
Canon 5D III

The upheaval of revealed geography of Point San Pedro, or San Pedro Rock, is one of the most dramatic geologic revelations I have seen. The verticality of the upturned sedimentary layers, the scalloped erosion and the sheer majesty of these stones standing up to the sea, is a rare sight. Couple that with breaking surf and surfing seals and it make for quite a dance as well.

chainsaw man

Sword Fern. Pedro Point Headlands, Pacifica, CA.
2016.Canon 5DSr.

The eucalyptus forest has a rainforest feel with its fog-fed moisture and density. Hosting a wide variety of plant life, from ferns, to wild flowers to poison oak, the springtime is usually very lush. Recent rains have filled the air with a fecundity that mixes life breaking out with decay that feels deeply real earth.

grass and sun

Aerial, Pedro Point Headlands, Pacifica, CA. 2015.
Canon 5DSr.

The headlands as land form jutting out to sea has been a subject of mine many times over the years. When Canon loaned me their new 50 megapixel 5Dsr a year ago, renting a plane and doing some aerial work above this jut into the sea became a real priority. I was very pleased with what I was able to do, and ordered a camera as soon as it was available.

...continued top of right column of the essay

vpp home

Home Screen Virtual Pedro Point..

The Virtual Pedro Point Experience

Go to VPPT.ORG to experience the program. We need feedback, so please let us know your comments, everything from typos, to video feed challenges (which we are working on), to ideas for how to make this a better experience.

The Intro page talks briefly about the place and this project

steve and al

Virtual Pedro Point Introduction Screen.

Categories include Maps and Trails, Life (flora and fauna), Earth Sciences (geology, water and weather), History, Restoration, the six Learning Stations, and some contact, credits and donation possibilities.


Earth Sciences Screen. Virtual Pedro Point.

Videos and text lead the visitor around the Headlands discussing what they are likely seeing, and explaining how this place came to be, what lives here and how to get around.


Geologist Jerry Davis on Pedro Point

We were very fortunately to have biologists, geologists and naturalists help us along in our understanding on the headlands. Although their videos creates it own throughput challenges, we though the first person guides would be a critical touch.

Thanks go Mike Vasey who helped the project from the very beginning, Fiona McDonnell for managing the project, John Plutte for the video work and Erick Leskinen for the mobile website implementation. Our credits page on the site ltists everybody who helped. Of course, my fellow board memebers of the Pacficia Land Trust, deserve much thanks for supporting this project.

Of course, as you look through the project, and you find that you want to help continued development on the project, you can always make a tax-deductible contribution to the Pacifica Land Trust through the VPP PayPal link.

A few more Memories of my friend Al Weber

Some additional material on my friend Al Weber who passed away in February. This video is from our last class visit to his studio in 2014.

web gallery weber talking

Here are some stills from a class visit in 2009 and an audio recording from that same visit by my friend journalist Brian Barger.


A Few Al Weber Links


Please let me know any comments you might have on this column.


Recently at SJ Photo

Most of my energy lately has been spent finishing up the Virtual Pedro Point project, which required building some more video editing skills in Photoshop where I can actually accomplish some real color correction. (see the Tutorial)

I posted a new gallery of my glass plate collection by Frank Day Robinson of the Merced County California region form the 1920s.



Portrait. Merced County. circa 1920s.
5x7 glass plate. Frank Day Robinson

Many of my podcast and bibliography links have broken over the years. I am slowly rebuilding all of the links as I can.

Doing this reminded me of some long-over due video renderings, including my talk on With a New Eye: The Digital National Parks Project at the Eastman House in 2012. All we had was iPhone video, but I have all of the slide show stills and the Museum has high quality audio. So I started assembling the pieces into a prototype of my talk.

This, of course, led to looking again a web photo galleries which were created in the mid-1990s, and looked terrible to me. So, naturally, I created a couple of new HTML 5 galleries of my national parks work.

Parks Gallery Selections (HTML5) or (Adobe Flash)spacerwhite sands


Parks Gallery Selections Black and WhitespacerDenalithmb


The park by park page I used to have in place looked so bad to me, that I pulled it off for now, knowing how much work it was going to take to rebuild it to my aspirations. As this is the 100th. anniversary of the National Park Service. this work has been much on my mind.

Getting the planned for full exhibition out would be great, as would getting the basically done book out as well. Having gone through two publishers, that for various reason didn't work out, I have recently gotten some bids to print the book, $100,000 in China, $200,000 in the US. I do think a book about the American national parks ought to be printed in the United States. We will see...

please email your comments to us



Consulting Programs and Speaking Events

Virtual Education: Our Virtual Consulting and Mentoring Program is working well. Readers of this Newsletter can still get a discount by mentioning this reference when you enroll.

Our One on One Program links you up with Steve at his bay area studio, or when he is on the road near you. Keep an eye on when Steve will be near your town.

Catch Steve Live: Steve will be speaking here and there over the next  few months..

  • Central Oregon Community College. Saturday November 5th.
  • Napa College. November 17th.
  • Pacifica: At the Gallery
    Come by and talk with Steve about his ongoing Exhibitions of work on display

Canon Sponsors Steve to speak at Universities, Colleges, Photo Groups and various events around the country. If you would like more information on arranging for Steve to do a Canon sponsored event, go to: Canon SJ EOL talk


Steve Lecturing at Photo Plus. New York City. October 2014.

Custom Workshop Scheduling

People often want to take workshops and the dates just don't match up with their schedules. Sometimes they watch the newsletter and webpage for years for their interest, free time and the workshop to all coincide. We've decided to be proactive in creating a forum for potential students to tell us what you need and when you can take a class. Please email us with workshop ideas and suggestions.

More formally, we are experimenting with a workshop poll to determine when interested people can make particular workshops they really want to take.

Currently we have up a few workshops to experiment:

Workshop Polls Homepage

Video Editing in Photoshop


It seems I learn something everyday. It is a reminder of how much there is to learn, how much possibility that exists, and that I clearly have ambitions to accomplish far more than is reasonable.

Having said that, video editing in Photoshop has some unique power, and customization tools that are not immediately obvious.

Color correction in video is often near impossible with video editors. In my opinion, Apple's redo of Final Cut made it even worse. However, in Photoshop, you can use all of the familiar and powerful color and tone correction controls, such as Adjustment Layers to tune the appearance of the video to a degree that is astounding by comparisons to other software packages.

It is also true that some special effects like pan and zoom are available within Photoshop although not immediately apparent as some controls only become live if the video cut itself is turned into a Smart Object.

Adobe has some good tutorials on-line with my friend Julieanne Kost.

Video Masks in Photoshop Video
Panning and Zooming in Photoshop Video

Previous Tutorial and Technique Posts


Photoshop Video with added adjusted audio re-imported, adjustment layers for color correction and a sharpen filter on the video after being transformed into a Smart Object.

The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop

Featured Products


gift certificate

Gift Certificates for Prints and Workshops!

Emailed or shipped with beautiful gift note card.


Life Form Note cards

5x7 inches,



Click to Purchase

12 image Note card set with envelopes featuring photographs from Steve's new Life Form work.

Printed by Steve in his studio in very limited numbers on a color laser digital press


gift certificate

National Park Note cards

note card

National Park Color Note card Set
Stephen Johnson
12 cards/envelopes $20 set

From "With a New Eye" Beautiful 300 line screen offset reproductions with envelopes in clear box. A great gift.


gift certificate



Please come visit us at our gallery and see our original prints in person. The subtle detail of the prints and the beautiful texture of the fine art paper have to be seen to be understood. And while you're here, browse through our books, cards, posters, and specially priced prints.

We're happy to mail you a copy of our product catalog, just send a note to or call us.

We're located at:

Stephen Johnson Photography at the Pacifica Center for the Arts
1220-C Linda Mar Boulevard, Creekside Suites, 5-7
Pacifica, CA 94044
(650) 355-7507



Pacifica Center for the Arts from Linda Mar Boulevard

Studio Lab Rental

We're open by appointment. To find us, use our map online at:

Google Map to Studio
Yahoo Map to studio

Studio directions and site layout.


We've sent you this newsletter because, at some point, you told us you were interested in hearing from us.

If you'd like to unsubscribe, change your email address, or give us comments about the newsletter, please send a note to

Newsletter Subscribe

To communicate with us regarding the list, email:

Newsletter Archive


Home | Fine Art Prints | Products | Workshops | Announcements | Online Gallery
Consulting Services | Contact Info | Site Index | Related Web | Mailing List


Stephen Johnson Photography at the Pacifica Center for the Arts
1220-C Linda Mar Boulevard, Creekside Suites, 5-7
Pacifica, CA 94044 650 355-7507

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gallery Hours are by Appointment.

Last updated on April 12, 2016 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2016, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide