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Yosemite Valley. Sentinel Meadow and Dome. 1998. Email to order a print. Next Workshop Death Valley in Winter. January 24-27, 2013..

Welcome to the December 2012 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

Lots of rain here in the bay area over the past weeks, some dramatic examples of the power of the natural world, often battering our man-made constructs. It reminds me of our real place on the planet. Of course, it was nothing remotely like Hurricane Sandy, but nonetheless, natural forces were hitting hard, bringing some amazing skies and powerful winds here on the coast...hard to photograph, but wondrous to see and feel.

This month's View From Here column takes off from a recent photograph and explores Our Hands on Earth. We hope you enjoy reading it and perhaps will send us some comments. Our Tutorial this month gives way for our Holiday Open House Invitation.


The next section of our popular printing workshop Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on runs this Saturday from February 23-26, 2013.

The one-day seminar Photographic Projects will be presented January 12, 2013. Keeping in mind people's limited budgets and recurring requests, these one-day classes are an effort to keep photo education innovative and affordable.

We return to Death Valley for our Death Valley in Winter workshop January 24-27, 2013. This full moon and winter light on the geographically rich and multi-hued valley make for an amazing photographic trip. Add the Sand Dunes at dawn and you have quite a set of photographic opportunities.

One of the true wonders of the world has been added to our winter workshop schedule with our Yosemite in Winter workshop Feb. 16-18, 2013.


Don't miss a chance to join us on our Ireland Workshop this Summer!

We are excited to announce our Summer 2013 Photography Workshop to Ireland's Spectacular West Coast July 14-25, 2013. My good friend Anthony Hobbs of the Dublin's National College of Art will be co-leading this ten-day immersion into the Irish landscape and culture.

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

FEATURED PRINT December 2012


Moon Set at Dawn. Death Valley. 2012.

Death Valley from Dante's View. 2012
9x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

the bitter cold of Dante's View at dawn and the eerie full moon setting into the haze of predawn, fading away into the morning light before it sets into the distant Sierra...


Stephen Johnson Workshops and Event Calendar
Photographic Projects: A Personal History and Survey. At Mono Lake, The Great Central Valley, With a New Eye
January 12, 2013
Death Valley in Winter (full moon) January 24-27, 2013
Yosemite in Winter. February 16-18, 2013
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on February 23-26, 2013
Pt. Lobos and Carmel March 16-18, 2013

Highway One San Mateo Coast  April 20-21, 2013

Pt. Reyes National Seashore  May 4-6, 2013
San Francisco Digitally  June 1-2, 2013
Ireland 2013: July 14-25, 2013

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Under the Grid



...modern geometry hanging in the sky...



Clouds and Hills over Interstate 580. 2012.

by Stephen Johnson

Our Hands on Earth

I've been photographing our marks on the landscape for my entire career. The tension between the natural world and our constructs is often strange, challenges perspective, downright odd, and sometimes compelling.

Despite my concentration on the natural world, I have never sought to idealize it, but rather plunge deep into what I find, whatever direction that might take. For over 30 years I have been drawn to the curious marks we make, the things we build, together with the debris and evidence we leave behind.

As is often the case these days after so many years of working, a body of work can emerge from looking at what I've been curious about over time. We see a photograph, get reminded of others, start to associate even more images, and without consciously deciding to consider a grouping, the associations start to form.

Many of the images that could be gathered under this idea of our hands on the land come from other projects, the Great Central Valley work, my series Western Artifacts, and countless isolated images that seemed irresistible at the time.

The theme also reminded me of a song I wrote over 30 years ago watching the moon rise and the sun set on the Anasazi ruins at Waputki near Flagstaff. Thinking back to the making of those buildings, a vivid image came to mind of people working hard to build a community, their very home clearly made from the earth, rising from the ground toward the sky.

I'm riding the wind back a 1000 years
I can see his skin in the sun
With his careful hands he shapes his earth
his red house growing in the blue


Kettleman Plain. 1984.


Gold Mining Dredge Tailings. Sacramento Valley. 1982

We are native to this planet. Naturally we leave evidence of our presence. Although there are many reasons to decry this impact with so much of what we do, it is also the very delight of researchers trying to understand our past, and the casual cultural anthropologists we all become in our fascinations. How old does graffiti have to be to become pictographs and evidence of who we were?

We often impose ourselves on the land incidentally, our works becoming visual evidence of  land use, from agriculture to dumps, by merely using the land. We've been making such marks for at least 5000 years. Sometimes the impact is direct and intentional, human humor and art laid onto the land. Other times it is debris, the decay of what we leave to collapse back into that very land. Visually they can all be compelling in different ways.


Stone Fence. Ireland. 2008

It was invigorating to explore some of these files, and go searching for a few I vaguely remembered, most of which there is not room for here. But the last few days have been a good exercise. Whether this little archive exploration continues and is joined by others will depend on how these few images settle in, and grow on me, the feedback I may get, and if my curiosity dares open those daunting drawers with thousands and thousands of negatives...

Looking again at some of the work from the Western Artifacts Project does make me want to pull those together into a set of great scans and finished modern prints. Anyone want to come in and intern on some projects?...



At The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

A must see if you are in New York City, Faking it: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop is a wonderful exhibition at the Met in NYC through January 27, 2013.


...continued top of right column


Truck Stop Tower. Winnemucca, NV 1982.

Strange Constructions

Deliberate impositions on the land, using it as a surface for the making of art is often not as interesting as something that happens coincidental to the makers intentions. But sometimes you come across that rare combination of intention and aesthetics that makes you really notice.

Many of you know Robert Smithson's work, like the Spiral Jetty, work by Andy Goldsworthy and others. An artist from Santa Cruz, Jim Denevan, has been doing massive beach markings for years. Their art is in the marks they make on the land, by intention and hard work.

In Jim's case, they are ephemeral marks that the next wave can wash away. I documented some of his work many years ago, and greatly admired his dedication to drawing something so temporary, and that so few would see. The photo documentation became the record, and for most, the experience, the temporal quality part of the preciousness of the creation.

My good friend and former assistant David Gardner has been working an a great series Marking Our Place in the World which directly relates to these ideas.


Landsharks. 1984.

I've delighted in driving by the Landsharks for years. Where natural form has suggested a palette for art and humor, graffiti and comment, those sites particularly engage me. I wish I knew who did it, how long they thought about it, and if it was carefully planned or quickly improvised. I know the paint has been touched up over the years, so somebody cares.


Windmills Altamont Pass. 1983.


Rolled Grass. Iceland. 2009.


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 over the next year, such as Rockport, Maine in late June, Amherst, MA in July and Dublin Ireland in early August.

  • Pacifica: At the Gallery

Millbrea Camera Club meeting at Stephen Johnson Photography.
February 21, 2013 at 7pm.

Photo Film Night: Dorothea Lange: Under the Trees 1965
February 2013

  • Maine Media Workshops Artist Lecture.
    Rockport, Maine. June 25, 2013. 8pm
  • NECCC Photo Conference July 2013. Amherst, MA
  • National College of Art and Design
    Lecture. Dublin, Ireland. early August 2013.



While wishing you all a happy holiday season we would also like to invite you to join us at our Annual Open House.

Holiday Open House

Saturday December 15, 2012

Stephen Johnson Photography Studio & Gallery
1220C Linda Mar Blvd.
Creekside Suites 5-7
Pacifica, CA  94044
(650) 355-7507

Enjoy new photographs, hors d'oeuvres, refreshments,  
community atmosphere and lively conversation

Free Items, Discounts, Raffles

Please RSVP

We look forward to your visit
and spending some time with you!

(all specials available remotely via email or phone)


New Product  

Pigment Poster Series

mori poster

Over the years, many of our poster series have sold out, and some were very impractical to print anyway, such as our long panoramic posters. We're a creating a new product line to address continuing inquires, our new Pigment Posters, contemporary inkjet prints from posters currently out of print or ones we never brought to press.

These pigment posters are pigmented inkjet prints, printed on attractive but lightweight paper, screened to imitate the texture of traditional halftone dots from a printing press, and priced between a mass produced poster and an high quality fine art print. These posters will outlast traditional posters and should bring years of enjoyment to your home or office.

I hope you'll consider one for your wall.

Special holiday pricing on these first two  in the Series at $150 each, regularly $200. Call to order 650 355-7507.

dusk mono poster

2013 Calendars


Beautiful Calendars from Steve's photographs.

11x17 inches sprial bound
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

Studio Lab Rental

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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 18, 2012 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2012, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide