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Afternoon Surf, Pacifica. 2011. Email to order a print. See our next workshop: Death Valley in Winter second session Jan. 12-15, 2012

Welcome to the December 2011 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.

I hope those of you in the US had a great Thanksgiving. I am deeply grateful for all of the support and kind words I hear from you all on the work, the workshops and the Newsletters.  I am also very mindful of all that I have to be thankful for with this wonderful life adventure of exploring our planet photographically and sharing those experiences. May your holiday season be filled with family, friends and love.

The holidays are coming right up! Below is our December 17 Holiday Open House schedule and special deals for the holiday season.  We hope to see or hear from you this season.


  • Pacifica Center For The Arts - Stephen Johnson Photography Galleries and Studio
  • Saturday, December 17, 2011 Time: 12- 5pm


  • Free Posters all day
  • 20% Discount on any Print, of any size
  • Raffle: December Featured Print: 11x14 original signed print
  • Raffle: 50% Discount on a Workshop
  • Raffle: 50% Discount on a Print, of any size


For those who are are unable to attend the Open House, we are also offering discounts on workshops and deals on various items and prints that would make great gifts and can be easily purchased via phone or online and shipped quickly.

Deal offerings Open House Weekend from December 17-18

• 20% discount on any print in any size available
• 20% discount on Spring 2012 workshops
• 20% discount on specially priced family portraits

Gift Idea: The Basic Digital Camera Use Lecture January 19 could be a great gift for friends and family befuddled by their digital cameras. The new Friends and Couples workshop discount could be a great gift, where two enrollments coming in at the same time get a 10% discount on the second enrollment and a referral discount on a future class. That combined with shared expenses can cut the cost of a workshop significantly.


2012 Calendars: Three calendars are available this year, one drawn from the Exquisite Earth work, one from With a New Eye: The Digital National Park Project and one of Pacifica, CA where our studio is located.

This month's Newsletter's View From Here column muses on some precious photographic experiences. We hope you enjoy reading it and perhaps will send us some comments. Our Tutorial this month discusses RAW Processing and Photoshop workflows.

The Death Valley in Winter Workshop running January 7-10, 2012 has filled and we have scheduled a second session January 12-15. Four days of exploring this remarkable national park with great photographic instruction and field work. Death Valley is a place you must go, so why not now?

Our Photographers & Photoshop Series continues in February with the Selections, Adjustment Layers, Tone and Color Workshop February 11-12, 2012.

Our next Fine Art Printing Hands-on class is March 3-6, 2012 which has just been added as the January session filled. Hope you can join us.

Many new workshops have been added to our schedule for the Spring of 2012, Yosemite in Winter, Joshua Tree National Park, Pt. Reyes National Seashore, and California's Highway One San Francisco South. Check them out! As part of our ongoing commitment to photographic education, there is one student scholarship spot in each of these classes. Please pass the word along.

In August of 2012 we will journey back to the land of fire and ice for a 10 day Photographic Expedition to Iceland.  The Exquisite Earth show we have at the gallery has some very abstract landscape photographs from Iceland and we are excited to announce that we will be going back! 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 need 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.

We hope you can come by the gallery and see the Exquisite Earth exhibition, its accompanying very special Exquisite Earth Portfolio 1, 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.

Workshop Testimonials

FEATURED PRINT December 2011


Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia in Acrylic.
Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution. Washington DC. 2011

Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia in Acrylic.
Canon 1Ds III
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

The vehicle that carried the dreams of humanity to explore the cosmos

Follow us onlinesjphoto twitter facebookwordprss


Stephen Johnson Workshops and Event Calendar
Holiday Open House at Stephen Johnson Photography Studios and Gallery.
Saturday December 17, noon to 5pm
Death Valley in Winter January 7-10, 2012 (now full)
Death Valley in Winter January 12-15, 2012
Basic Digital Camera Use: January 19, 2011, 7-10pm
Fine Art Digital Printing January 21-25, 2012 (now full)
Yosemite in Winter February 4-6, 2012
Photographers & Photoshop Series: Selections, Adjustment Layers, Tone and Color
February 11-12, 2012
Fine Art Digital Printing March 3-6, 2012
Joshua Tree March 10-12, 2012
Pt. Reyes National Seashore April 21-23, 2012
California's Highway One: San Francisco South May 19-20, 2012
Iceland. August 24-September 2, 2012


sleeping bear dunes


New Photo Link

SR-71 Blackbird. Air and Space Museum Annex, Smithsonian
Canon 1Ds III

The highest airborne photo platform that we know of, our premier spy plane that I have always found to be among the most beautiful machines we have ever built.


Pad 39B, Space Shuttle Columbia. Kennedy Space Center, FL. 1996. Betterlight Scanning Back.

by Stephen Johnson

Some Precious Photographic Experiences

As the holidays approach, I am filling some print orders, preparing some 2012 Calendars, and exploring the next installment of my Exquisite Earth Series. Working on these, and many other projects all at the same time makes me revisit the full and frequently too full career I've lived.

The journeys, the photographs made, and the many people I've met, all amount to treasures in their own unique ways. I've been deeply fortunate to have fulfilled many of my life's dreams, two healthy and beautiful children who are now young adults, a world explored already more than I might have dreamed as a young man, a level of recognition for my life's work that is very gratifying.

Thinking back through iconic photographic life experience moments, the 12 year old boy in me is not well hidden, nor do I want him to be. I remember so clearly standing atop the launch tower at Pad 39B of the Kennedy Space Center the night before launch, looking across at the massive rocket  and spacecraft that was Columbia, or watching the sun rise within the stone circle at Stonehenge, being inside the inner chamber at the 5000 year old Newgrange, sitting in the House anteroom looking over blueprints of the new Mono Lake Visitors Center to be built by legislation we had just helped pass, or floating in front of an absolute wonderland of Gaia earthwork in an Antarctic berg. It is these moments that I treasure, even more than the photographs I made at the time.

book cover
Dawn, Stonehenge. 1996. Betterlight Scanning Back.
Newgrange. Ireland. 1996. Betterlight Scanning Back.

As these challenging economic times continue to stress so many of us, such gratitude is good to remember. At 56 years old, I can't help but look forward in time too, as I'm young enough to dream of many new adventures, and yet have so much work already accumulated as to not ever have to create any more raw material. That edge of always being driven to create anew, even amidst more work that can possibly be taken in, is an ongoing challenge. As we mature, supposedly, our ability to balance life's opportunities and challenges grows. Or so I've heard. Perhaps I'm avoiding maturing, or perhaps this fascination with natures wonders continue to such a deep degree that I'm still pulled to see so much.


Mono Basin Visitor's Center. Home of the At Mono Lake Exhibition

It is a challenge to hold onto the few critical opportunities and dreams while keeping the myriad of others minimally distracting. I do have so many projects underway, that as any one of them is completed it is sometimes hard to know exactly where to focus. Keeping income coming in certainly directs focus on the workshops and Newsletters, but there remains much unseen work and new more powerful manifestations of existing projects. Consulting on new product development remains a consistent interest and often stretches my mind and concepts of the possible in very good ways. Juggling too many balls, but never bored.

The idea of new manifestations of older work is deeply fascinating and are avenues I am actively exploring. This is particularly true where older projects are still vital but need a kick in the butt to be experienced. The new Mono Lake Folio is one of them. As some of these become available, I'll talk about them here.

Iceberg Grotto. Antarctica. 2009. Canon 1Ds III

The age old lament comes to mind that if there were only 2 of me I could get so much more done. The Holiday Season often heightens such feelings of being overwhelmed. Perhaps part of that elusive maturing I mentioned earlier is to have more realistic expectation of what I can accomplish. There is within me a perfectionist of unlimited aspirations that has to co-exist with the realist who finishes work, gets things out the door and makes real things. These two Steves do have some lively and spirited debates, but ultimately avoiding schizophrenia and concentrating on my loves usually works out.

An essay like this makes me dig out work people may have never seen. And that is thoroughly good. It is so easy to just keep making photographs and let them pile up in the archive unseen. We have to fight that instinct to just put them away and move onto the new. Challenging our means of making the work seen is one of the more important exercises we go through as artists and never really stops. It can be one of the hardest things we need to do.

Yosemite Falls and Cliffs. 2010. See our next Yosemite workshop, Yosemite in Winter February 4-6, 2012

So here's a few images from old archives, some current work and some thoughts wandering through my mind as we near the end of the year.  We are looking forward to what we have planned for 2012 and starting it off in Death Valley with some of you.  Happy Holidays.

...continued top of right column

duskWave Abstract. from the Wave Series. 2011.


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

New Workshop Program

We are initiating a Friends and Couples workshop discount where two enrollments coming in at the same time get a 10% discount on the second enrollment and a referral discount on a future class. That combined with shared expenses can cut the cost of a workshop significantly. Email for discount

Information on the additional Referral Credit on future workshops.


NEW PRODUCT: Mono Lake Folio

We are bundling a vintage copy of the original paperback edition of the At Mono Lake exhibition catalog from 1983 with a new illustrated and expanded copy of my Masters Thesis documenting the creation of the exhibition together with an original 8x10 print that I consider pivotal in my aesthetic evolution, Dusk, Mono Lake 1979.

book coverbook cover

This set comes bundled in a folio and is available for purchase now at $250. Email to order or call 650 355-7507.

Mono Lake Folio Link

Revised and Updated version of "Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography"

I am updating and revising my last book, the 2006 Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography,

I would appreciate having my reader's feedback on topics they would like to see added, errors they might have noticed and in general how to make it an even more useful work.

Please email us your suggestions.

book cover


Holiday Gifts!

If you've been thinking about a workshop, an original print or portfolio, give us a call. The gift of a workshop or the treasure of a beautiful print can be a great idea for the holidays coming up. Our National Park Notecard set has proved very popular during the holidays.

We'll be doing gift card discounts, a holiday Open House, and a new set of 2012 Calendars.


Holiday Open House

Join us Saturday December 17 from 12 noon to 5pm. Mark your calendars. Details!


What I Do in Raw, What I Leave for Photoshop

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

I use a RAW Processor to interpret the Raw data with the intention of developing it into the most useable form possible for precision editing in Photoshop with its extraordinarily powerful processing tools.

My basic intent is to draw out the image the information I need from the Raw data stream, taking care of basic tasks, moving the rendition toward my intent, but always with the mantra of preserving detail and options for careful and precise editing in Photoshop. Those basic tasks include color balance and exposure, any rotation needed, and correcting chromatic aberration.

The following is a basic breakdown of the issues I pay attention to at the Raw Processor and Photoshop stages of deriving, then editing the photograph.

RAW Processor Image Development

  • basic look and feel with Exposure, Recovery, Fill and custom Point Curve
  • careful highlight and show detail revealed and held
  • basic color balance
  • detailed highlight recovery if needed (Adjustment Brush)
  • lens corrections (chromatic aberration)
  • horizon straightening

Photoshop Image Editing

  • Adjustment Layers for Non-Destructive Editing
  • careful, deeply controllable sharpening
  • precise tonal control
  • geo-specific editing with  extreme control
  • very careful color editing and Hue adjustment
  • b&w interpretation through the Black and White Adjustment Layer



We have a few of international workshops coming up in the next 12 months! For basic information please see below.  The links attached will have all details and ways to register.


Iceland: August 21-September 2, 2012

I am enthralled with Iceland. It is one of the most beautiful places I've been and I feel a deep pull to continue to explore and share this place. This is a new trip customized for my photographic interests and curiosities, dedicated to a wonderful and deep photographic experience.

2012 Calendars


12 selections from Steve's Exquisite Earth, National Parks or Pacifica work.

11" x 17"
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 perfect Christmas 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 December 13, 2011 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2011, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide