Moss Landing. 2009. Canon 1Ds Mark III.


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

I am writing this as I am about to embark on a 3 week long photography excursion and workshop in Antarctica. Stay tuned for some new work come February.

To start the new year off I'd like to invite you to one of our photography workshops in 2009.  We have an great schedule lined up with many wonderful locations which are open to a range of skill levels.  Whether you are interested in improving your travel photography, working professionally or deeply invloved in the fine arts, these workshops are structured to provide a critical edge bringing the skills needed to excel in today's digital world and make more successful photographs.

I work to create a sense of community on these workshops, make sure they are first-rate educational experiences and we take the time to really look and see on our field workshops.

The Spring schedule has a full offering of the essential components of a solid digital photography foundation;
Professional Image Editing, Black and White Digital Printing, and Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-On workshops.

The next workshop,
Death Valley in Winter (starting January 31) is a four day excursion into this strange valley's often soft winter light and it is the nearly full - there are only 3 spots available so sign up today!

The spring will bring our
Pt. Lobos/Carmel workshops and in May the Mendocino and the North Coast workshop.

Summer and Fall excursions include the spectacular 12 day Southwest Digital Journey workshop and the exotic Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra in October for the fall color.  For full descriptions see the workshop section below.


Stephen Johnson's workshop on digital photography has entirely shifted my former perspective about digital imaging. What I learned in his workshop gave me a new outlook on film, digital imaging, visual sensitivity to color, film and chip sensitivity to color, pre-visualization and composition, and digital printing.

Janie Fitzgerald, Photographer
Los Angeles, California


Other Workshop Testimonials

Steve at Ubeheebe Crater, Death Valley. 2007.


Great teaching, great facility.
What more could you need for the plunge into digital photography?


...New 2009 Parks Calendar
...Parks Notecards
...Pacifica Notecards
Featured Print Offer
Pacifica Pier. 2008
The View From Here
...Witnessing Beauty, Synthesizing Art
The Digital Book
...Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
Workshop News
...Death Valley in Winter
...Image Editing
...Black and White Digital Printing
...Fine Art Digital Printing
...Pt. Lobos and Carmel
...Mendocino and the North Coast
...Southwest Digital Journey
...Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra

Upcoming Events
...Maine Media Workshops
...Hallmark Institute of Photography
...Critique Session
...Graduate Study Day
Recent Publicity
...On Bert Monroy's Pixel Perfect Web TV show
...Parks Book Interview. May 2008.
...Book reviews
For Sale
...Older Epson Printers for sale that are no longer being used
Photographic Services
...Stephen Johnson Editions
Visit Us
Newsletter Administration
...Newsletter Subscription
...Newsletter Archive


New Products

2009 calendar

This color calendar is a visual preview of Stephen Johnson's photographic project, With A New Eye, The Digital National Parks Project. More info and to order.

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


The Bookstore

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

products 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.

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

products 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.

products 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 digital truths.

Featured Products

This Month's Featured Poster

Mt. St. Helens Hills and Haze
by Stephen Johnson
$25 unframed (January Special $15)

Hills and Haze from the volcano crater rim looking south towards the Columbia River and Oregon. 24x30 inch poster beautifully printed with a 200 line screen on heavy paper. Call 650 355-7507 for special price.


Available Again during the Holiday Season


National Park Notecards

A set of National Park color notecards from "With a New Eye." This 12 card set with matching envelopes would be a selection of some of the parks project's greatest hits to date.


Pacifica Notecards

A 12 card set with matching envelopes from Pacifica California, home of the Stephen Johnson Photography Studios and Gallery.


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

January 2009

Pacifica Pier. 2008
11x14 Pigment Print on Rag paper
$195 each or
16x20 for $500.

Photographing at night has grabbed me again. With new long exposure/dark current subtraction modes in many digital cameras, this night work has been made more possible than ever.

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


Glacial Crevasse, Deception Island. Antarctica. 2005.

Witnessing Beauty, Synthesizing Art

Around again on beauty...these rambling thoughts just keep wandering through my head, trying to find voice for what I see and do visually...hoping there's some value for others in that effort to translate the process into words.

Photography is an exploration, seeking to witness, to decode, to see the connecting strings that hold the world and the heart together. In that sense it is also always an exploration. We are always in the photograph by what we choose to make images of and when. But the journey to beauty is more than us, more than the place, it is also a mixture of aspiration, a process of trying to make sense and simplicity from complexity and confusion. It is a desire to understand through the heart.

My eyes seek an insight into the nature of the world, working to decipher clues that confirm an intuitive sensitivity to the nature of the world around us. It becomes a connection, a sense of the heart belonging, that those inner impulses seeking the best of the human spirit are manifested in the physical world around us. I suppose it is somewhat Buddhist in that it seeks connections, somewhat metaphysical in that we're seeing a real world, but seeking expression for something more deeply sensed, all the while using the camera as a tool, an excuse, a methodology, perhaps as a window.

In some ways, this making of photographs is easier to describe as what it is not, rather than what it is. It is not a whole and indisputable truth, but it contains truth. It is not a self-portrait but it contains something of us. In some ways it is the perennial search for god, but usually more modest and less sure. The process is surely seeking beauty, but no less so grace, and eloquence. All of which really do make up our notions of beauty. Beauty is also a state of contrast with the disturbing and ugly. It is also what it is not. And disruption well done, and eloquence can also be beautiful.

It is not so much wisdom I seek, as that seems presumptuous, but a greater awareness of being human on this planet. I would never say it is on a path to enlightenment, but I do sense it is a move in that direction. Not that anything is certain or that ultimate truths lie out there. In the landscape it is more about who we are in this place, and knowing that better over time.

I know that we want to hold our vision, posses it to some degree, eventually to make a print and fix an impression. But even that is really not what the process is about for me. That is more a by-product. It is not so much possessing as the intense joy of the view and touching some greater deeper meaning that if put to words would struggle to not seem trite and overreaching. The best poetry can make that reach. The visual arts are usually more abstract, but also unrestricted by language.

I suppose we do try to sum up a scene to some degree, but it is not so much synthesis as deep exploration. We call these summed up manifestations art, but as most artists know, the feeling is the art, the fixing of it is reductive and being an artist is an ongoing quest to make it less so.


1. the quality present in a thing or person that gives intense pleasure or deep satisfaction to the mind, whether arising from sensory manifestations (as shape, color, sound, etc.), a meaningful design or pattern, or something else (as a personality in which high spiritual qualities are manifest).
2. a beautiful person, esp. a woman.
3. a beautiful thing, as a work of art or a building.
4. Often, beauties. something that is beautiful in nature or in some natural or artificial environment.
5. an individually pleasing or beautiful quality; grace; charm: a vivid blue area that is the one real beauty of the painting.
6. Informal. a particular advantage: One of the beauties of this medicine is the freedom from aftereffects.
7. (usually used ironically) something extraordinary: My sunburn was a real beauty.
8. something excellent of its kind: My old car was a beauty. Unabridged (v 1.1)
Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.


Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time. ~Albert Camus

The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. . . . The ordinary objects of human endeavour--property, outward success, luxury --have always seemed to me contemptible. ~Albert Einstein

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious - the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. ~Albert Einstein: Living Philosophies, 1931

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. ~Albert Einstein

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery. ~Anais Nin

When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong. ~Buckminster Fuller




Hills, Lacy Point. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. 1995.

Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~John Muir

By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower. ~Rabindrath Tagore

That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful. ~Ninon de L'Enclos

Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked. ~Ralph Ellison, "Battle Royal"

Tell them dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for being
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Rhodora"

In every man's heart there is a secret nerve that answers to the vibrations of beauty. ~Christopher Morley

We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its end; which stands related to all things; which is the mean of many extremes. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. ~Confucius

Beauty deprived of its proper foils and adjuncts ceases to be enjoyed as beauty, just as light deprived of all shadows ceases to be enjoyed as light. ~John Ruskin

One summer night, out on a flat headland, all but surrounded by the waters of the bay, the horizons were remote and distant rims on the edge of space. Millions of stars blazed in darkness, and on the far shore a few lights burned in cottages. Otherwise there was no reminder of human life. My companion and I were alone with the stars: the misty river of the Milky Way flowing across the sky, the patterns of the constellations standing out bright and clear, a blazing planet low on the horizon. It occurred to me that if this were a sight that could be seen only once in a century, this little headland would be thronged with spectators. But it can be see many scores of nights in any year, and so the lights burned in the cottages and the inhabitants probably gave not a thought to the beauty overhead; and because they could see it almost any night, perhaps they never will. ~Rachel Carson

Flowers... are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844

A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books. ~Walt Whitman

Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Beauty... is the shadow of God on the universe. ~Gabriela Mistral, Desolacíon

Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked. ~Saint Augustine

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.

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.

death valley

Death Valley in Winter
January 31-February 3, 2009

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

Professional Image Editing
February 12-15, 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.

Digital Black and White Printing
February 28-March 1, 2009

Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

Explore black and white printing in the digital age with a classical landscape photographer who comes from the world of large-format black and white.

Steve has maintained his deep love of black and white photography while leading the transition into digital photography. His digital black and white work dates back through 1992 with the Kodak DCS 200, the Leaf DCB and later through the BetterLight, Kodak dedicated BW cameras and the Foveon BW mode. Steve's use of custom Iris inks, gray inks for Epson printers and development work on the new HP Z3100s black and white modes shows a long-term interest in bringing BW into the mainstream digital world.



Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
March 19-22, 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.


death valley

Galapagos Photography Workshop
April 3-13, 2009.

Ten days in the strange and wonderful Galapagos Archipelago. Wildlife beyond belief, raw volcanic landscapes and beautiful beaches. Voyage with us on the 12 passenger catamaran Nemo on an intense photographic journey. Gallery.

Email us for more details and apply for a space - this workshop should be a blast for all.


pt lobos

Pt. Lobos and Carmel: A Digital Photography Field Workshop
April 18-20, 2009

Ansel Adams called Pt. Lobos "the greatest meeting of land and sea" on earth. It is truly an amazing combination of rock, surf, wildlife, changing light and abstraction...aqua surf, orange lichen, organic rock forms and waving sea palms. We'll walk the trails, wander the rocks, get lost in form and light.

We'll talk to a gallery director, explore the Carmel photography scene, likely eat well and meet some career photographers in this three-day immersion into classical California landscape photography.

pt lobos map


Mendocino and the North Coast
May 2-3, 2009

Dive into the lush seascape of California's North Coast on this intensive two-day photographic workshop to Mendocino. Dark, musty redwood rainforests pierced by sunbeam shafts, spectacular rocky cliffs with the tumbling surf below, and rolling shoreline dunes will fill our two days with remarkable varied photographic experiences. The north coast architecture of this beautiful little township and the fishing port of Noyo will add plenty of man-made subject matter to our weekend. And, of course, we will find time to sample a few of Mendocino's good eating establishments.

The misty north coast light will likely be as much our subject matter as the landforms. This special quality of light is part of what makes this area so visually interesting and dynamic. Come prepared for rain, fog and sun.


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.

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. 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.




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

Maine Media Workshops


Iceland: Mastery of Landscape
July 26-August 1, 2000



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

Hallmark Institute of Photography
At the Airport, P.O. Box 308 •
Turners Falls MA 01376

Monday morning March 30, 2009. 9:30am

At The Studio Gallery

Critique Session
February 26, 2009

Feedback on our work has proven critical to many of us involved in the arts. In this emerging age of digital photography, it is hard to find people knowledgeable in the technology and with a background and experience in the fine arts.

After many requests, we are initiating monthly critiquing sessions at our studio in Pacifica, California.


Graduate Study Lab
February 27, 2009

Days dedicated to labwork with guidance by Stephen Johnson in his specially-built digital photo lab. Afternoon reviews of work.



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.

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

Printers being replaced:
  • Epson 2200 $300


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

Tuesday-Friday 10am to 5pm.
$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 CS2 or 3 or Adobe Lightroom 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 January 7, 2009 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2008, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.