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Lembert Dome Panoramic, Yosemite, 1997. Email to order a print. Next Workshop: Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on September 8-11, 2012

Welcome to the August 2012 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

Longing to get up to the high Sierra before summer is out, thinking of so many good times in the realm of 10,000 feet, hoping I get over there before the Mono Lake workshop in October, I need to wander a bit and see the stars from so high...

This month's View From Here column reflects on our recent Raw from Raw class and the abstraction we pursued. We hope you enjoy reading it and perhaps will send us some comments. Our Tutorial this month discusses Black and White or Color.



2012 Canon Print Set

The next section of our popular printing workshop Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on runs from September 8-11, 2012.

There has been so much interest in the new Photoshop and so much reaction to some posts we've done on the new and deeper CameraRaw, that we've scheduled another section of Photoshop CS6 and Photographers Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, 2012.

So many of our students tell us they struggle with composition, so in response, for the first time in a few years, we're offering one of our One Day Photography Seminars, Beauty in Photography: Inspiration and Composition November 3, 2012. Keeping in mind people's limited budgets and recurring requests, these one-day classes are an effort to keep photo education affordable. This class addresses one of the most difficult areas of photography, why are interest is drown to a scene, and how to craft an image reflective of the inspiration.

We're going back to one of our favorite places in December, Pt. Lobos and Carmel December 1-3, 2012. Whether on this workshop or at another time, you must visit Pt. Lobos, so why not join us for a group photo journey?

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 announced last fall.

Our busy schedules and limited budgets often keep us from destination workshops or classes, 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 Google Blogger.

We hope you can come by the gallery and see the Exquisite Earth exhibition, 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



Veggie Series #3. 2012.

Veggie Series #3. 2012
1x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

Symmetry and slight asymmetry abounds in the natural world ...

Stephen Johnson Workshops and Event Calendar
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on September 8-11, 2012
Raw From Raw: Still Life Studio Hands-on Photography Workshop
September 23, 2012
Photographers & Photoshop Series Photoshop CS6 and Photographers
Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, 2012
Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra October 13-16, 2012
Beauty in Photography: Inspiration and Composition November 3, 2012
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on November 10-13, 2012
Pt. Lobos and Carmel December 1-3, 2012
Death Valley in Winter (full moon) January 24-27, 2013

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Reflections, Pacifica. 2012



...a puddle in a parking lot, at sunset on the Pacific Ocean of course...


Pepper. Veggie Series #4. 2012.

by Stephen Johnson

Raw Form 

I've been thinking about form, organic, sensual form, living objects, the things we grow and eat, the things we subconsciously pick up at a market, the fruits and vegetables that make up so much of our diet. Or ought to. The beauty of these objects, their vibrant color, improbable form and connection to the earth are all compelling sources we instinctively seek.

Our new RAW from RAW class and a visit to the San Francisco Farmers Market, brought a plethora of peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and strange fungus into our lives to serve as models for the class. We needed them as subjects, now feel somewhat overwhelmed at their beauty, imminent decay, and the need to act fast to do them photographic justice before they collapse into something quite different.

The class was fun, very hands-on, and filled with immediate feedback on our work, which was wonderful. In the studio, a slight change in approach shows up immediately. Working with depth of field in such a demonstrable and dramatic way was very rewarding. Making photographs as a depth of field expansion set, then demonstrating how to put them together was also very effective, and fun. (see Testimonial by Alan Kushnir).

It makes me want to wander the beach, collect more stuff, go through the rock and artifact collection, get lost in those most curious things we pick up and hold on to. There must be a reason after all, for me to hold onto so many of those precious jewels of the moment for so many years.


Pepper. Veggie Series. 2012.

Help! Bell peppers everywhere!!!!!!

I feel like we're drowning in the veggies we gathered for the class. Although it is shame they are wilting, it is also a delight that we are eating very well.



...continued top of right column



Cucumbers, Bitter Melon, and Peppers in color and custom black and white. 2012.

Black and White or Color

With the advent of the Black and White Adjustment Layer in Photoshop, whole new worlds of black and white interpretation have opened up to us. The veggies above are a simple example, the tutorial below explores the possibilities a bit further.


Surf at sunset, north Pacifica.. 2012..

Another Surf Photograph

Why do we keep photographing scenes we've seen a thousand times before? When do they become compelling once again, and what can the photograph be that makes the new particular experience stand out. A topic we'll explore in the Beauty in Photography course coming up November 3rd.


A few things I would like you to keep in mind...

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 around the country over the next few months, September in San Francisco and Napa, then October in New York.

  • Napa Valley

Napa Valley College. September 14, 2012, 7pm
Performing Arts Center, Napa Valley College
2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy.
Napa, Ca 94558

  • San Francisco

Keynote at PSA International Conference of Photography
South San Francisco. September 20, 2012.

  • New York City

"12 Steps to Improve Your Digital Photography"
Friday, October 26th from 1:30 – 3:30pm.

PhotoPlus. October 2012


Black and White or Color

(excerpt from the book Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography unreleased revised electronic version)

Black and White or Color? A question that has changed in some fundamental ways in this digital age. Now we almost always make our photographs in color through Bayer pattern filters spread across our sensors filtering the light into red, green and blue.

If we want black and white, for the most part, we are starting in color. This is frustrating on one level, because it means if we want black and white, we have to derive the color first, then transform the photograph into grayscale.. This lowers the resolution of the file as compared to what it would be without the color filters.

But there are also some wonderful advantages. It means the black and white world we derive from color (albeit, now on the computer) can be almost anything we imagine, or stumble into through experimentation. The Black and White Adjustment Layer in Photoshop further enables a level of customization that it is almost unbelievable. We can experiment with conversions, customize different areas with masks, and re-imagine the nature of what a black and white photograph can be.

Although Grayscale (BW) conversion can be done in Camera Raw, Lightroom, Capture One and other raw processors, I prefer Photoshop because of the masking and control, allowing different areas to be converted in different ways, as shown below.


From July 2011 Newsletter: Black and White Selective Conversion. Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park. Maine. 2011.




Chard, Veggie Series (color). 2012


Chard, Veggie Series (custom black and white with adjustments shown on graphic to the left). 2012

In the example here, the color file provided the raw material for separating the BW conversion into dark stems on glowing leaves. It's a major tonal shift, but demonstrates the flexibility of the process.


Featured Posters  


Beautiful posters from Steve's National Parks work.

30x24 inches
Price $20.00

More Information

To order by credit card.



note card

National Park Color Notecard 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.




or call to order 650 355-7507



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

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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

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Last updated on August 21, 2012 . Mail comments to:
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