The Road Behind the Mountains. Iceland. 2009.

On the last Southwest Workshop....

"It was the trip of a lifetime"
-Curt Kiest

To sum up in one word: Superb! Going out with Stephen to photograph extraordinary sites at dawn and dusk made me rethink what and how I photograph… Stephen is a great teacher... continually attentive to student needs, always ready with suggestions for improvement, he is quite a presence. A week after the workshop my head was still spinning with ideas. I am deeply grateful to Stephen and my fellow participants for having made this trip so memorable.
-Andrew Stern


White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly, 1977..
see Southwest Journey Workshop. August 9-20, 2009.



Welcome to the August 2009 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.

I'm writing from Iceland, about to start my way home after a wonderful week of exploring with some fine students and good Icelanders. The week was full of visual wonders.

It is always very hard to pick some brand new photographs to show, but the newsletters often force my hand and some understanding of what I've just done. That is good because I examine the work while it is all still fresh in my mind.

In this case this quick turn-around is particularly important, as I'm about to embark on my Southwest Digital Journey Workshop, where I will no doubt will make many more photographs.

Rapidly approaching, the Southwest Workshop is the last workshop of the summer, and still has a few spots. This is a rare opportunity to spend days getting to know the southwest with my photographic assistance along the way. It should be a spectacular 12 days, and it would be great to have a few more join us on this adventure. So why don't you make a last minute impulsive choice to join us on this adventure? With al of the places I want to take groups, I probably won't do this one again for many years.

In October, the exotic Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra Workshop will take us to this high desert sea surrounded by strange tufa towers, volcanic cones, and an unearthly high desert setting, all touched by autumn color.

The Death Valley in Winter workshop is scheduled for January 28-31, 2010.

Our last two studio workshops are our carefully planned sequence of professional digital photography classes—Professional Image Editing September 19-22 and Fine Art Digital Printing September 26-29. Join us if you need help with these topics, I believe we provide an exceptional learning environment and facilities.

In these difficult economic times, fields such as the arts are challenged. I appreciate your continued interest in my work, and the classes I offer. If you can help us get the word out on the workshops, please be in touch. Referral credits are now available, giving you 10% off the next workshop you take for every enrollee you send to us. Please let people know about our Internship and Workshop Scholarship program, a great opportunity for young photographers.


Workshop Testimonials


Southwest Digital Journey. Last chance to Register!

Intern and Scholarship Programs

Video of Steve's Maine Media Workshops Artist's Lecture. Thanks to Patrick Durante. Needs Apple QuickTime plug-in.

New DVD: Matting and Framing

August 2009


Aerial over Myrdalsjoekull Glacier, Iceland. 2009.
Canon 1Ds Mark III
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each

My three-hour flight over central and southern Iceland was amazing. There were literally hundreds of photographs to choose from for this month's print from the flight. Sometimes we just have to make a choice, and this scene near the end of our flight struck me with the contrast of color and light, glacier, rain and sea, all stacked up rather nicely I thought.

We're offering an 11x14 inch print, matted to 16x20 and ready to frame for $195, framed in silver for an additional $75, wood for $150. This print at this price is offered through August 31. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by September 15th.

About the Program
Each month we offer a signed, original print, at a special price. This is a great opportunity to own a very affordable fine-art photograph. Orders are taken for a 30-day period, then printed and shipped within two weeks after the close. When it's over, it's over, these prints won't be available again at this price.


Waterfall on Rocks. Iceland. 2009

Iceland, Workshops and the American Southwest

Writing from Reykjavik this morning, in for a week-long workshop with Focus on Nature, thinking about the week just gone by and the next few weeks ahead. Life is full of activity lately, too full in some ways, rich beyond dreams in others.

More than once this last week in Iceland, as I was taking in the breadth and beauty of this island, the sheer privilege of living on this wondrous planet struck me yet again-–the rawness, the cold and slowly flowing masses of ice, the steaming earth, the immensity of what we call an island.

I had arranged for an airplane rental to do some aerial work the first day. So even before the workshop started, I took a deep dive into the Icelandic landscape. The flight was magnificent. I love to fly, love the abstract patterns and landscape comprehension possible from the air. It is such a complete departure from land bound experience, approached only by high lookouts and flying dreams.

The plane was not ideal, low wings and plex gull-wing doors with only a small fold-down door for photography. But I made it work, both with my Canon 1DsIII and a borrowed PhaseOne Camera with the P65 back.

The view was extraordinary, from abstract glacial ice, to braided streams and deltas, light glowing through sky and air as it only can also seen from the air, tight circles of repeating form, almost complete disconnection from up and down with a great effort not to loose myself to motion disturbance. Our pilot, Snorri, was a third-generation Icelandic aviator, he knew the country and the wonder. It was a great start to my week.

First Look Aerial Gallery

First Sorts Canon Gallery

Iced Hills and Sky. Iceland. 2009


Colored Wall, Lon Valley, Iceland. 2009

The Workshop

We gathered in Reykjavik for an afternoon of introduction and lectures, then a nice dinner out on the town. As a vegetarian, I was very pleased with the many offerings almost everywhere I went, even three vegetarian places right on the main street. Of course, whale and puffin were also on some local menus.

Monday morning we met Icelandic photographer Gudmundur Ingólfsson, his big yellow Italian van (named the yellow hen) which was to be our workshop transportation, and started our journey to south Iceland.

some workshop people photos

We headed for water and ice. Our first a stop the falls at Seljalandsfoss. Then off to a fantastic glacial overlook at Svinafells. Of course, these names are from my GPS map log, I can never remember the Icelandic names at the time I am told, the sounds are still too strange to my ears. I'm grateful for the GPS.

workshop map


Lava and Hills, The Road Behind the Mountains. Iceland. 2009

Over the next days we found long valleys and meandering rivers, towering cliffs, floating icebergs and remnant iceberg clear ice on the beach. The trip behind Myrdalsjoekull Glacier on "road behind the mountains" with it's striking vistas, volcanic upheaval and colored mountains made for a wonderful day. It is a very rugged country with a very unique beauty.

On Friday, I was photographing a waterfall tumbling and cutting through the rocky desert, watching rainbows form and reform. As I stood up, my Canon 70-200mm lens dropped out of my jacket and went tumbling over the falls. There was a moment, as it dawned on me what was happening, where I could have tried to reach for it. It was almost certain I would have gone with it. The lens was replaceable, our bodies are not. I was proud of that moment of certainty. It is after all, why I have insurance on the equipment.

Iceland is far bigger than I can get my head around. We've always known it as an island, the maps reassure us of that fact, but when there is almost what seems like endless space, it is hard to feel contained. Even though over the course of a week, we drove almost halfway around the country/island, it still seemed like it would take weeks, many back roads, no hurry and a good camper to really come to know this place. Sounds like a great idea. So much to squeeze in, such a big world to see. Workshops have proved a good way of returning and really getting to know a place ...thinking hard about my Alaskan workshop next early August.



Braided Stream. Iceland. 2009

Flying back, I had a window seat with a beautiful view of Greenland and Baffin Island to the south. The view was absolutely extraordinary, looking down on endless ranges of mountains buried in ice, huge flows of glaciers, and a humanless expanse that nearly boggles the mind. I love flying.


Glaciers and Mountains, Greenland. 2009

Looking Toward the Southwest

More than once, as we traversed vast plain of rocky Icelandic desert yesterday, it struck me what an interesting contrast this experience will be with moving across the American Southwest next week on our Southwest Journey Workshop. Space and desert, rock and form, life often clinging on the margins, but tenaciously evolving, adapting, finding a way.

There's more red in the southwest, less green. The topography is more dramatic, but of course, there are no glaciers. Known human occupation is not too different in time, less than a few thousand years. But the people and cultures are so different.

I am really looking forward to being back in my homeland. As a boy of the American West, I do feel most at ease in spaces bigger than an island could contain, more dramatic than the imagination easily grasps–sometimes just outright weird like Bryce Canyon.


Bryce Canyon National Park. from the Southwest Series. 1995.



Clogged Heads from Idle Inkjet Printers, Here's a Gift for Mac Users

Here at Stephen Johnson Photography, we've long struggled with idle inkjet printers and clogged printing heads. For a long time I've wanted a solution that would wake up the computer at intervals, print a little test chart, then put the machine back to sleep or turn it off. Thanks to the tenacity of my intern Nathan Feldman, we are giving away an iCal Script to run a Mac Automator script to have Preview print a small CMYK jpeg to put a little ink through the printer once a week, in this case Sunday evening.

We offer this to anyone that wants to try it, but cannot offer any support.

Download package (check back, I thought it would be ready and will post soon.)

Link back to this item on our newsletter if you want to tell others:


Order Now for a signed copy!

Professional Photographers of America 2007 Hot One Awards

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography

Book Reviews
Book Comments online

* Upcoming Workshops
We trust you find our selection of classes interesting and useful for your needs. We take the imparting of information and the empowerment of our students quite seriously. The digital age has considerably enhanced our ability to teach, and we believe, your ability to capture what you see. This program is designed to help you benefit from both of these advances.

We hope you can join us on a workshop.

Referral Discounts

As we are always trying to enlarge our reach out to people to let them know about the workshops, we have instituted a discount policy that can be earned by referring people to the program. It is simply, if they list you are having referred them, and they take a workshop, you get 10% off the next workshop you take from us within one year. These referrals are cumulative and can even bring a you a free workshop. Again, they do have to be redeemed within one year. Deal? Deal

Request a Workshop

We are also starting a new program of letting people request the workshops they want. Check out the Workshops Currently Building List and help us build a list of workshops and people so we can then determine dates. See the workshops page for a list of previously offered classes that we would be happy to teach when we have enough people.

Workshop Scholarship Program

We're restarting our photography workshop scholarship program. We will try to reserve a spot in every class we can, particularly field workshops. To start, we will be be gathering applications from qualifying college photography students who would like to join us on a workshop.

We will be developing an application page, hold received applications, then choose awards as spots become available. Let people know who you think might be interested.

For applications, please email:

A Digital Journey through the Southwest
12 Day Digital Photography Workshop
August 9-20, 2009

Join us on a twelve-day trek through the visual wonderlands of southern Utah and northern Arizona. We'll visit Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Betatakin, Monument Valley and end up at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The trip is designed to be a complete immersion in landscape photography and its digital evolution with the pioneer in digital landscape photography.
de chelly

Professional Image Editing
September 19-22, 2009
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

This is a great chance to explore digital photographic editing with Steve. Hands-on help and demonstrations of his use of editing tools with restraint and finesse will benefit all of your digital photography work. This class is designed with the time to really understand the processes, and to work through difficult images.

Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
September 26-29, 2009
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

This workshop focuses exclusively on improving your fine-art digital printing in our new Digital Lab, primarily using Epson inkjet printers. Concentration will be on inkjet printing with color pigments and black/gray ink combinations on coated and rag papers. Learn from the digital pioneer how he obtains his impressive results during four days of lectures, printing, and feedback in the studio.

We will cover workflow issues, color management, correcting color casts, adjustment layers, custom profile generation, editing and inspection. There being no magic bullet to making good prints, the workshop will also explore old fashioned testing, careful color judgments and interactive honing in on the best print possible.


dusk mono lake
Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra
October 10-13, 2009

The stark and beautiful scenery of this legendary lake is unlike any other landscape in the world. Its alkaline water, desert vistas, volcanoes and unusual tufa towers make it a remarkable place. The presence of this huge lake in the eastern sierra desert is improbable at best, its out of place character is pervasive, at times seeming more lunar than terrestrial.

Mono Lake can change from a tranquil expanse of silver water to a blue-green stormy sea in minutes. It is a most intriguing place. It is both a challenge and a pleasure to photograph at Mono Lake. But Mono Lake's beauty does not necessarily make it easy to photograph here. The desert sun can be harsh, and the horizon can appear endless. It takes time and patience to catch the subtlety of Mono's moods. The autumn weather should provide some interesting cloud formations. The lake's strange landforms can easily become ordinary when photographed casually. Consequently this place demands a certain intensity to do it visual justice. A primary goal of our time spent together will be to slow down and understand the lake on a more intimate level than might normally be possible.

These four days will be a dynamic combination of a traditional landscape photography workshop while diving deep into the digital age. Technical and aesthetic considerations will be discussed in detail, while we explore this high desert lake and its strange environs.

death valley

Death Valley in Winter
January 28-31, 2010

Transformed from a searing 120 degree desert in summer to January's mild 60-70 degree weather, Death Valley is filled with intriguing landforms, delicate flora, strange mineral deposits and expansive views. Mile high Dante's View overlooks the patterned salt flats of Badwater and the Amargosa River below (the lowest point in the United States). Badwater's still water in turn mirrors the blue and white Panamint Mountains to the West. The lunar landscape of Ubehebe Crater's black volcanic fields rise from the rolling desert at the valley's north end with the steep gorge of Titus Canyon and Red Pass to the southeast

Personal Workshops and Art Consulting

Arrangements can be made to work with Steve individually at his studio or at custom locations. Call for a discussion of the possibilities. 650 355-7507


Steve and Tom
Olympic Peninsula, 2002.

* Check out our workshop web page for information on all of our workshops, including both our field and studio workshops.

UPCOMING EVENTS with Stephen Johnson


Iceland: Mastery of Landscape
July 26-August 1, 2009

Interview on the Workshop


At The Studio Gallery

Galleries open by appointment. 650 355-7507.


Canon's Explorer of Light Photographer - Stephen Johnson
Photographer Lecture Series


An Artist and the Land: Stephen Johnson and the Great Central Valley
University of California Merced. Merced, California.

With a special walk through of the Great Central Valley Exhibit.
Thursday September 17, 2009, 7pm. University Library Room KL 355


Photography's Brilliant Future. Stephen Johnson.

6Sight Future of Imaging Conference Monterey
Monterey Conference Center

November 12. 2009. 9am

Class Visits

Many of my fellow photography instructors have brought their classes by the gallery and studios for talks over the years. I realized I had never made this aspect of our activities here public, so here it is:

We welcome photography classes to visit.



Feature Story in the last issue of Studio and Location Photography. April 2009

7 Photography Questions
Interviews with top photographers to improve YOUR photographs

Podcast #37: Witnessing and Holding the Beauty in Landscape Photography -- An Interview with Stephen Johnson

Guest appearances on Bert Monroy's Pixel Perfect Web TV Series.
Episode 103

Episode 104

O'REILLY podcast
MacVoices Podcast
MacEdtion Radio
DIMA Podcast
Photoshop World Podcast

tsj interview pix

Photoshop World: March 2008 Interview


Parks Book Interview with Dianne Pitman. May 2008


Inside Digital Photo by Scott Sheppard: Stephen Johnson. Sept. 2008


Book Reviews

Barnes & Noble Review: From Our Editors
This is a passionate, deeply personal guide to digital photography by a true legend in the field. If you've been fortunate enough to participate in one of Stephen Johnson's seminars or to view his breathtaking national parks landscapes, you know his book has the potential to be truly extraordinary. And so it is.Johnson teaches sophisticated technique without ever losing track of art. You will learn powerfully important things about digital sensors and high dynamic range photography; about multi-exposure panoramas and scanning; about tone, layers, and Photoshop curves; about Camera RAW Workflow and honest restoration.He roots digital photography deeply in its historical context without ever losing sight of the present -- or the future. He also captures the deep importance of digital photography -- and its ethical implications -- without ever becoming pretentious. And the images? No words suffice.

-Bill Camarda, from the November 2006 Read Only

Book Comments online

"Steve Johnson, one of the true visionaries of the digital photography era, offers us a technical tour de force and passionate artistic overview of the possibilities inherent in this new medium. On Digital Photography should be required reading for every aspiring photographic artist."

-Ted Orland, photographer & writer

...As Johnson says at the books very beginning in a Note from the Author: “I have often also been frustrated at the concentration on the technical aspect of digital photography with so little discussion of the aesthetics and the heart behind the imagery.” Indeed and at the book’s end he uses this frustration to deliver hugely enlightening home run. The book itself is an artistic treasure with a very meaningful subtitle: Text, Photography and Design by Stephen Johnson. Johnson obviously demanded freedom to create. Tim O’Reilly did well when he granted Johnson’s wish. Quite simple the best photography book I have ever seen.

-Gordon Cook's Collaborative Edge
September 9, 2006


Printers I'm no longer using. Make an offer. Must pick up. Donations to educational/charitable organizations will also be considered.

  • Epson 1280
  • Epson 5500 (with lots of ink supplied)
  • Epson 9000 (dye inks and Lyson grayscale set included)
  • Epson 9500
  • Epson 10000
  • HP 5500 Color Laser

Printers being replaced:
  • Epson 2200 $300

Featured Products


GrayCapsTM Digital gray card. The Digital gray card you will always have with you, even among 10,000 penguins.

graycap penguin

Matting and Framing DVD

A one-hour vdiedo demostrating how to prepare, measure, cut your matts, lable and frame photographic prints.

To order

gray cap


gray acr

A Photographer's Journey DVD

A Photographer's Journey is an 8 minute mini-documentary on landscape photographer Stephen Johnson's ground-breaking all digital photography in America's National Parks, With a New Eye. Produced by Apple Computer in 1998.

Additional Features

  • Parks Project Gallery

More info

To order


Visit Our Online Store

We continue to offer a wide variety of Steve's posters, books, notecards and a video or two from our Products page.

There is also a new page devoted just to books and one devoted just to products from our national parks prooject, With a New Eye.

Please take a look and browse. There are many one of a kind items there, available nowhere else.


The Bookstore  

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography

There is something for everyone in this beautiful and definitive guide for digital photography enthusiasts, from cutting edge camera and software techniques to engaging discourse on the history and future of digital photography. Published by O'Reilly, 2006. 320 pages, over 700 color and duotone illustrations.


Art and Fear
by Ted Orland and David Bayles
1993. $12.95

A terrific book. A must read for every artist who has struggled with working, creating, reaching out and hanging in there.


Ted Orland's New Photographic Truths Poster.
24x36 inches. $20.

An underground classic, gracing the walls of university darkrooms and professional studios alike. But now (finally!) it’s available again in a new edition — still illustrated with the same friendly picture of Ansel Adams, but with a text that now includes many newly-discovered and critical digital truths.


Advice for Photographers: The Next Step
by Al Weber
2007. $12

Based on decades of teaching, Weber has collected and organized ideas and suggestions to aid those who would be photographers. A 72-page field manual.


We are now offering rental time in our new lab on an hourly basis during our normal business hours.

By appointment only.
$25 per hour, plus a per print charge

Includes full access to calibrated monitors, fast G5 Macs, Epson pigment inkjet printers, 5000°k viewing lights and color profile creation hardware and software.

Appointments can be made by calling 650 355-7507.
Familiarity with Mac OSX and Photoshop CS4 or Adobe Lightroom 2 recommended. Staff tutorials available for additional charge.

A Great Opportunity!
  • Fully equipped lab
  • Make your own printer profiles
  • Finally have access to the equipment you need


Digital Portraits by
The Studios of Stephen Johnson Photography

  • Instant Feedback
  • Special prices
  • Satisfaction or no fees


  • Artwork Copying
  • Custom Printing
  • Custom Profiles




watercolor by Ralph Putzker


To purchase original prints, see:

11x14 pigment on rag paper $450 from existing prints

•Information on Stephen Johnson's Original Prints

With a New Eye: The Digital National Parks Project


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


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

Map to studio
Studio directions and site layout.


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Last updated on August 26, 2009 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2009, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.