Dawn, Zabriski Point. Death Valley. 2010. Canon 1Ds III.


Dusk, Mussel Rock. 2010. Canon 1Ds III.

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 my trip so memorable.

-Andrew Stern
Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley

yosemite oaks

Demo in Lee Vining Canyon. Mono Lake Workshop. 2004.


Welcome to the February 2010 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.

This month's column Competitions and Shows as Income explores artists yearning for exposure being exploited by fee charging competitions and notes the loss of my friend Jim Rubino.

Our workshop program continues with the next Winter workshop being Yosemite in Winter coming right up in mid-February.

Later this month is our most popular workshop, Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on February 25-28. By request, a follow-up to the Printing course is being offered for the first time in many years, Intermediate Fine Art Digital Printing on April 10-11.

Our studio and field combo workshop concentrating on Highway One San Francisco South is coming up in March.

Continuing our new Photographers and Photoshop Series we have Repair, Restoration and Archiving on March 27-28.

We have a few new workshops. Premiering this Spring is our Tahoe Photo Retreat April 17-18 a weekend immersed in photography, feedback, sharing and learning. Additionally, we have added a rare 3 days at Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin County on May 15-17 and throughout the Spring a four part lecture series on Digital Photography in Southern California.

I hope some of you can join us this winter and spring for some of these offerings.

Our Summer Travel Adventure Workshops include:


Workshop Testimonials


Yosemite in Winter. Last chance to Register!

Printers Available for Donation!

Intern and Scholarship Programs

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

DVD: Matting and Framing

February 2010


Fog on Lake Tahoe. 2010.
6x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each

Taking a needed break from routine, I made it up to Lake Tahoe early in the year. I never expected to see a view like this, where the whole basin was shrouded in clouds up to about 7000 feet. It was an amazing sight.

We're offering an 9x14 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 February 28. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by March 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.


Competitions and Shows as Income

Making art is about passion. The business of art is something very different. How we go about making a living as artists is as varied as art is. Most derive their income from sources other than their artwork. It seems all of us seek exposure and recognition, allowing part of that creative impulse of communication to actually take place.

That desire for our work to be seen is fundamental. It is a desire that is being systematically exploited by galleries, juried shows and competitions.

It has become a custom to require a submission fee for your artwork to be considered for exhibition. This preys on people's desire to have their work seen, and serves as a source of income for the charging party. I believe using aspiring artist's hope for exposure to raise funds is exploitative behavior. If an organization needs help to fund projects, there are alternatives, such as grants, memberships to enable programs, print sales and fee-based educational workshops.

It is understandable that costs are involved in putting on exhibitions. There is a simple alternative to the current practice, create a business and raise funds for it as arts organizations always have done. Additionally, simply ask those chosen to exhibit to help fund the exhibition with a voluntary donation, or if absolutely necessary and disclose that as a part of the process up front.

The reason I find this so upsetting is that it is such a fundamental victimizing process. Many of these entities don't even exist except through raising money through preying on the hopes of potential exhibiting artists. If you can't fund the exhibition, don't call for entries. It seems to me it is just that simple.

My students deal with this all of the time. In fact, it has become so common it is just a part of how they expect the world to work. They budget for submission fees, not just the time and energy, but having to limit how much they can make an effort to get their work out there by how much money they can afford to pay for the privilege of having someone bother to even look at their work.

This process reminds me of the countless emails and junk mailings I get from so-called Artist's Showcase book projects that are simply vehicles for the publishers to make money and amount to little more than vanity press endeavors. I get a flow of Who's Who come-on's fairly regularly as well, stating how my stunning reputation has earned me the right to give them money for a plaque. Come on, this is plain old exploitation, milking the hungry for gain, another sad example of how capitalism can go awry.

I remember when Don Worth, Al Weber and I were curating the At Mono Lake Exhibition in 1980. It would never have occurred to us to ask people not only for their artwork but also for their money.

It takes substantial resources, energy and suspension of the fear of failure to put your work out there. To have to pay for a gallery to even look at your work and consider exhibiting the results of your creative soul, makes for a huge additional burden.

I consider this practice a cynical and systematic preying on the most precious resource we have in the arts, the artists themselves and their often fragile balance of need for money and need to get their work seen.

I sincerely wish it would stop.

I can't say I will never enter and pay such fees, but generally do not, and resent it when I have, even when I've won or been accepted. Like many of you, there are times when I will likely believe the possibility outweighs the aroma.

You can work to change these practices. Get involved with local art groups, be an advocate for professional behavior in the treatment of the precious aspirations of your art community. Let groups know you would like to be supportive and participate but don't agree with some practices.


Thoughts From Juried Show Judge: Al Weber

On a different note, juried shows have their own challenges and wonders, regardless of fees discussed in the article above. Recently my good friend Al Weber juried a show for the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, an organization I have a long and positive relationship with. A video is posted on the Center's website with Al talking about the process. Al's book, Advice for Photographers is available on our website.


Jim Rubino at Red Pass, Death Valley 2007

Jim Rubino

When I first started writing this column for my Newsletter, I never dreamed I would end up mentioning the loss of so many friends. I find I need to pay some sort of tribute to friends that have made a difference and worked in ways that have influenced us all in our photographic endeavors.

Unfortunately, another friend, and friend of technology has passed away.

On the morning of January 20, my good friend Jim Rubino died of an apparent heart attack while diving off the Caribbean island of Bonaire. In 2001 Jim and his company APT Technologies developed the Serial ATA (SATA) interface we all now use to communicate with our hard drives in our computers. With the hard-earned and successful licensing of that technology, Jim found himself in the position to pursue his lifelong love of photography.

I knew Jim, and he became my friend, because of his interest in photography. He stopped by my gallery one day about seven years ago, having heard that he should see the photographs. As he told it, he walked through the gallery, a bit distracted by other things on his mind, then started to leave. He then said to himself, "hold it, I just saw something significant" and returned to the gallery, staying for several hours. A friendship was born that day as well as conversations that continued for years.

As Jim's photography developed, the images grew stronger, the prints more refined. Not surprisingly he was fascinated by the technology and how it all worked together. He helped me create an Education Center business plan, helped build my lab, the networks, and stayed with me through the sheer labor of hanging in there through various challenges, showing a remarkable tenacity and dedication. We even filed a technology patent together. My digital lab might not have existed without his help. I know my life has been made much richer by his friendship.

Having recently lost his parents and working through some health issues, he was simplifying and reinventing his life. He was full of energy and plans. Even giving up on his Windows machines and converting to a Mac "wishing he had done it years ago." His love of and plunge into photography was a good example of his wonderful curiosity. He was 61 years old and passed away doing something he loved.

Jim was a uniquely intelligent, sensitive and caring man. He will be deeply missed by many.



A memorial service followed by a celebration of Jim’s life for every one of his friends, will be held at 10:30 am on Sunday, February 28th, 2010, at the Seascape Beach Resort in Aptos, CA.


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 as 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.

iCal Calendar of Our Workshop Program

-View our Workshop Calendar.
-Subscribe to our Workshop Calendar.
-Learn more about iCal or to download a copy.

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 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: info@sjphoto.com


Yosemite in Winter
February 13-15, 2010


Winter in Yosemite Valley is a transformed world. Trees are wet and dark, the oaks are bare. The cliffs are blanketed with snow. Weather moves through in waves of clouds and mist. Ponds and river edges are frozen. There is usually snow on the valley floor. Visitors are dramatically fewer in number.

Our four days together will likely be cold, but we will no doubt be warmed by the special beauty that winter brings to this grand valley. Although we will drive to basic locations, I hope our basic mode of transportation through the valley will be our feet. There is really no other way to come to know a place.




Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
February 25-28, 2010
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.



Highway One and the San Mateo Coast
March 13-14, 2010

The coastline of 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.

The workshop 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. Our concentration will be on controlling your camera's operation to achieve your desired technical results, while building composition and visual skills to make the photograph what you want it to be. Digital exposure and dynamic range, composition, emotion and amazement-all will be part of our 2-day excursion into the evolving world of digital photography.


Photographers & Photoshop Series: Repair, Restoration, Sharpening and Archiving
March 27-28, 2010.

This workshop continues a new series of classes concentrating on the tools within Photoshop critical to Photographers. It is a great chance to explore digital photographic editing with Steve in his custom-built lab. Your photographic work will benefit from this hands-on class and Steve's demonstrations of his use of editing tools, executed with restraint and finesse. This class is designed to break down the steps to really understand the processes, and to work through difficult images. These two days will be spent exploring the tools really needed by photographers for fundamental image repair and restoration. Various sharpening techniques and the archiving of your files will be our additional primary concerns.


Intermediate Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on
April 10-11, 2010

This workshop is designed to be a follow-up on previous printing classes, hlpling the students maintain their growth and increasing control of the prinitng process. More assistance than lecture, this class focuses exclusively on refining your fine-art digital printing using our first-class 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 working with Steve again to continue your printing progress.


Tahoe Photo Retreat and Critiques
April 17-18, 2010

Come spend a weekend in the Sierra with photographer Stephen Johnson in Alpine Meadows near Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe. This two-day retreat is designed to immerse you in photography. Work with Steve on image processing, composition, and the why of photography.


Pt. Reyes National Seashore
May 15-17, 2010

This three-day workshop includes field instruction, critiques, and discussion of composition, digital camera characteristics and exposure. Individualized instruction is designed to accommodate beginning and advanced students. The weekend will mix walking and driving, exploring the trails, beaches and rural countryside of the park. We will visit the windblown Point Reyes headlands that juts miles out into the Pacific, offering ocean views found nowhere else. Time will also be spent in the forest, looking for form and design in the rich flora.

A beautiful coastal forest, isolated undeveloped beaches and views encompassing hundreds of square miles of land and sea will be the rewards of this weekend at Point Reyes. This dynamic landscape promises an intensive and interesting three days on northern California’s rugged coastline

The Tuscan Landscape with Stephen Johnson
September 23-30, 2010

Spend a week in Italy with renowned landscape photographer/educator Stephen Johnson. Centered in a 12th Century Tuscan monastery, this photography workshop promises to be an extraordinary opportunity to explore the Tuscan landscape and learn from one of the most dynamic educators and talented photographers working today.

Workshop headquarters will be San Fedele, an ex-monastery dating back to the 12th century.  It is situated in the Chianti hills, 12 km north of Siena and 45 km south of Florence.  The nearest towns are the medieval city of Radda-in-Chianti and the village of Vagliagli. San Fedele was completely restored beginning in 2001 and today has 17 guest rooms and several classrooms and studios.

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

mmw logo

Saturdays with Stephen Johnson
A Series of Lectures brought to you by the Adobe Technology Exchange of Southern California

at the Torrance Marriott Courtyard

Saturday, March 6: Making the Photograph
Saturday, April 10: Photographic Processing and Archiving
Saturday, May 1: The Digital Darkroom
Saturday, June 5: Photographic Printing in the Digital Age

A series of 4 Saturday seminars on digital photography and photo editing with renowned photographer and digital photography pioneer, Stephen Johnson. Classes run from 9:30am to 3pm.

mmw logo

Maine Media Workshops


Iceland: Mastery of Landscape
July 25-31, 2010

Tthe wondrous and raw volcanic landscape, geothermal features and sheer remoteness are the settings for this Icelandic experience. Water and sea, weather and mountains, reflection and growth...come spend the week with us. We will work in the field and in the lab. We will interact with what has been done. We will look, ask much of our work and press on to make it as strong and sensitive as possible. Organized by Focus on Nature.


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

12 Things to Improve Your Digital Photography: Stephen Johnson

Fresno State University
Friday February 5, 2010, 7pm

Alice Peters Auditorium
University Business Center (room 191)
California State University, Fresno, 5245 N. Backer Ave, Fresno, CA, 93740

Digital Photography in the 21st Century
an evening with digital photography pioneer Stephen Johnson

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 - 7:00PM
College of DuPage Student Resource Center (SRC) room 2800
425 Fawell Blvd. Glen Ellyn, IL 60137


Apple Store, San Francisco
One Stockton Street San Francisco, CA 94108 (415) 392-0202

Expert Photo Tips from Real Experts
Wednesday February 10, 6:30pm

Learn More Today’s digital cameras offer endless creative opportunities—if you know how to use them. Join photographers and authors Derrick Story, Ben Long, Mikkel Aaland, and Stephen Johnson for an inside look at the world of digital photography and learn how to get the most out of your digital images.

At The Studio Gallery

Galleries open by appointment. 650 355-7507.

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 our studios and galleries.



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 are being Donated to educational/charitable or government organizations. Send an email. All working when last used. Must pick up.

  • Epson 9000 (dye inks and Lyson grayscale set included)
  • Epson 9500
  • Epson 10000


Printers being replaced:

  • Epson 2200 $300
  • HP 5500 Color Laser $1500

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 video demonstrating how to prepare, measure, cut your matts, label 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 project, 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


Stephen Johnson Editions

  • 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 michelle@sjphoto.com 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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Newsletter Archive

Last updated on February 8, 2010 . Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2010, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.