sj news logo

Amanita muscaria. Pacifica, CA 2014. Canon 5D III. Click to order a print. Next Workshop Yosemite in Winter January 31-February 2, 2015

Welcome to the January 2015 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

Another year dawns and I'm spending some time looking back at 2104, gathering work together for a print on demand booklet and thinking back over all I was privileged to see this past year. I am grateful for all of the attention to light and land that my photography continues to give me.

This month's View From Here column discusses Getting Our Work Out via Print on Demand. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments. Our Tutorial Section explores a couple of things to keep in mind when preparing a print on demand job.


  • New Zealand July 20-27, 2015 workshop is moving to a new date.

photo review

Steve with Fine Art Printing class students and guest Ted Orland. 2014.
Photo by Fiona McDonnell.

Scholarships and Mentoring

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.

With all of our busy schedules and limited budgets, destination workshops or classes become a challenge, 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 new Panoramic Prints we've added to the National Parks Gallery, and the Exquisite Earth exhibition with 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



Water, Ice & Cliffs, Yosemite Falls. 2011.
Canon 1Ds III

Water, Ice & Cliffs. Yosemite Falls. 2011.
Canon 1Ds Mark III

11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

The constant falling waves of vertical water misting onto the dark granite cliffs made for quite a sight.

2015 Workshop Schedule
Introduction to Digital Photography Seminar January 24, 2015
Yosemite in Winter January 31-February 2, 2015
Image Editing February 7-10, 2015
Graduate Study Days February 20 & 21, 2015
Color Management for Digital Photography March 7, 2015
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on March 14-17, 2015
Pacifica: Nature's Gem March 21-22, 2015
Digital Black and White Printing Hands-on March 28-30, 2015
The Golden Gate May 2-3, 2015
Raw to Print Summer Digital Bootcamp June 1-5, 2015
New Zealand July 20-27, 2015

printing class

March 2014 Printing Class. Photo by Fiona McDonnell

Speaking Events (see below)

Follow us onlinesjphoto twitter facebookfacebookgoogle+ blogger




Forest. Pedro Point. 2014


New Photo Link

Forest. Pedro Point Headlands. Pacifica, CA.
2014. Canon 5D III.

Click to order a print

Beautiful afternoon light dappled the ground below the trees, making for a play of many forest greens, hanging lichen, the rich brown fecund earth and needles below, and an irresistible photographic moment. The light lasted only a few minutes.


In preparation: The 2014 Collection.

by Stephen Johnson

Getting Our Work Out: Print On Demand

Looking back at 2014 makes me want to gather work together to see what I've done this year. One way of doing that is building web galleries, or making stacks of prints (at least proof prints). Another way might be to put together a print on demand book. Such a book could either then be printed or just viewed as a pdf, for just you, or online.

There is so much material from a whole year, that I'm using my "processed files" folders from the various computers and drive I work on, and this very column in my Newsletter to a quick first look at what I might want to use.

I have been playing a bit more with print on demand (POD) books for the last few months. Its funny how long it takes to get around to doing some projects. I've been helping people with their Blurb books for years, even helping Blurb judge their contests. But getting around to doing one of my own just didn't happen.

For a long time, the reproduction quality on most POD printers was simply not as good as I wanted, even for a less than fine art reproduction. When HP formed MagCloud, their online print on demand company, I got a little more interested. HP was, after all, the maker on the Indigo Press these days, the printer almost universally used by these companies.

My experiments with the Indigo go back many years, working with HP Labs in Palo Alto shortly after they bought the technology from Scitex. We worked on a few copies of my national parks book With a New Eye, and some note cards projects, proving to me that although laser printer technology, it was really quite good. It was also about that time that I traded HP for one of their high-end laser printers and have been using it for years for in house calendars, note cards, and promotional brochures.

Indigo Press and the National Parks Project. 2003.

I was encouraged by what we did in prototyping the national parks book. That prototype held secure two different book contract offers. For various reasons the book remains unpublished, but many people think they've seen it, as they picked up the POD copy in my studio.

A number of years ago I started converting my first book, At Mono Lake, into a modern Adobe inDesign file. I scanned the book, created and matched page layout and fonts, adjusted placeholder scans, and came up with what could function as an ebook, or even a print on demand proof. Not only do we have in mind to reprint the book, but also expand it to include all of the photographs in the exhibition.


Mono Lake Thesis

Related to the At Mono Lake book was publishing my Graduate Thesis as a booklet to become a part of a Mono Lake Folio that would include an illustrated version of the thesis. This actually became my first POD project and is now included in the folio and available online to purchase.

My own color laser printer is getting old, and is having a hard time keeping up with the quality I need. So this year, as I was preparing my 2015 Pacifica Calendar, it was clear I was going to have to go out of house to print the calendars, thus forcing the print on demand path for current projects. I found an affordable solution on MagCloud.


When doing the initial POD prototypes, I was simply interested in seeing if I could get the calendar printed. I realized that in order to replicate what I had been printing in house, I had to pay for empty blank pages backing up every month. So I decided to add to information on my photography, the Pacifica Land Trust, The Pacifica Center for the Arts, a Pacifica Trails Map and some full page photographs from previous calendar years.

Order your expanded edition online now!

Pressing Ahead on the 2014 Photographs Project

So I am going through work. Originally I thought I might have a finished product by the time this newsletter was ready, but clearly it is going to take some more time. I am exploring images forgotten, many out of my central visual concerns. It is challenging as there is so much to look at. My visual curiosity seems endless. A lot of files build up as a result. But it is also very cool when some forgotten gem turns up.

...continued top of right column


Framed Lighthou
se. 2014

Play is critical. Having no agenda for the work often allows for play, in a way that a plan for the images do not. On our Highway One Coastline workshop last spring, a student of mine brought along a mounted frame through which I couldn't resist a quick Lighthouse image. Using focus stacking and allowing the images focused on the frame, and one focused on the Lighthouse, to blend irregularly created an effect I did not anticipate and found delightful.


Great Blue Heron. 2014

The Great Blue Heron above was a surprise, just standing on the fence as I was leaving my studio one day a few weeks ago. I remember feeling challenged at the time by the back lighting, feeling like I had not quite risen to the occasion. I had not seen the potential I recognized after the fact. Standing on top of a fence against an overcast sky made almost for a cutout of the bird, emphasizing the design of the image.


A favorite from last year, Seals Surfing at Pedro Point.

Remembering the best of what we know we have done is usually the driving force behind any desire to gather the images together. Featuring those photographs that I'm most proud of is obvious, but it is also interesting how many strong images were getting lost in the flow of time. Ferreting those lost gems was another good motivator for the 2014 project.

Going through the years work does have some great upsides. The biggest gain may be in finding many photographs suddenly come to life that were missed in the initial run through, or simply buried in the amount of work being archived.


Moonset. Pacifica. 2014.

We photograph what we see. Any given year might produce dozens of photographs that have nothing to do with the rest of our work, but happen to reflect where we go and what we see. The 2014 Photographs project became a way of trying to pull a few of those together, as sets of two in two page spreads, or if panoramic, one photo to stand alone on a single two page spread.


New York City looking south from the Empire State Building. 2014.


I've also recently accepted an offer to exhibit some work at a county Arts Council Gallery and this is a year to try new things. Arts Councils are such inherently good organizations that it also seemed a way of supporting their efforts.

I do need to use existing prints as the request came with fairly short notice, so I'm going to show a group of my digital national park prints from With a New Eye.

As we are currently building a show of my Life Form work, I am reserving that work for the opening at my studio.


Steve and Gordon, Open House. Pacifica. 2014

Thanks to all of you who dropped by our Open House in December. Many of you were clearly pleased at the special offers, and I appreciate those of you who took advantage of the opportunity to collect some original prints.

please email your comments to us



Consulting Programs and Speaking Events

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  few months, such as his up coming talks in New York City at Photo Plus.

  • Mid America Photo Symposium (MAPSym) May 16, 2015 6PM - 8PM
    Eureka Springs, AR
  • Pacifica: At the Gallery
    Come by and talk with Steve about his ongoing Exhibitions of work on display

Canon Sponsors Steve to speak at Universities, Colleges, Photo Groups and various events around the country. If you would like more information on arranging for Steve to do a Canon sponsored event, go to: Canon SJ EOL talks



Steve Lecturing at Photo Plus. New York City. October 2014.



Preparing a Print on Demand Book

There are a number of issues related to Print On Demand books. The first, and most obviously important is that you have content you believe to be of value. A very close second to that clear point of departure is the kind of presentation you put together.

The design of the piece is critical to an appreciation of the work. I would argue that it must be clean, elegant, and support the artwork rather than compete with it. Mixing fonts is usually distracting, having type oversized and getting inappropriate attention are issues I look for in trying to help people with their designs.

POD book printers often allow for full bleeds which can be great for covers, but I feel full bleed photographs look more like illustration than art, often cropping the image to fit the page, rather than image content driving what is presented. If using bleeds, be careful to follow the printer's instructions, often available as pdf downloads, as well as templates for various design programs.

I am certainly prejudiced toward Adobe inDesign as my page layout software. It is a worthy successor to Pagemaker and Quark Xpress and embodies most of what those earlier packages were trying to do and improves upon their capabilities. inDesign has become the default page layout software.

On the technical side of photograph preparation, a calibrated monitor is an absolute must. It is the only way you know what is actually in your digital file, and the only reasonable way to expect someone else's output to be a close match of what you are seeing.

Make sure you are embedding a common working profile into your photographs. For output, I use Adobe RGB, even if my working space is generally set to ProPhoto RGB. This means I have to convert the photos to Adobe RGB before I place them in the page layout software. Follow the printer's instruction on color management.


Previous Tutorial and Technique Posts

stitched landscape

MagCloud's cropping, bleed and spread Preview Window.

Most vendors will want you to use their design templates or upload a pdf. Learn how your program handles pdf export and follow the instructions of the POD vendor.

I always suggest ordering 1 or 2 copies of the book just to see how the whole process works together. You can then tweak any issues, before a number of books are made.

I've found that many of these POD vendors do crop the page down assuming bleeds, and your white space can be trimmed, so allow for that in prototyping and look for issues in your first copy. MagCloud has bleed previews in their upload process.


The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop

Featured Products

gift certificate

Gift Certificates for Prints and Workshops!

Emailed or shipped with beautiful gift notecard.

2015 Calendars

11" x 17"
Price $25.00

2015 Life Form Calendar
12 selections from Steve's Life Form work.

Life Form Calendar order


2015 Pacifica Calendar
12 selections from Steve's Pacifica, CA work.

Pacifica Calendar order.


2014 Life Form Note cards
5x7 inches,

Click to Purchase

12 image Note card set with envelopes featuring photographs from Steve's new Life Form work.

Printed by Steve in his studio in very limited numbers on a color laser digital press


National Park Note cards

note card

National Park Color Note card 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

We're open by appointment. To find us, use our map online at:

Google Map to Studio
Yahoo Map to studio

Studio directions and site layout.


We've sent you this newsletter because, at some point, you told us you were interested in hearing from us.

If you'd like to unsubscribe, change your email address, or give us comments about the newsletter, please send a note to

Newsletter Subscribe

To communicate with us regarding the list, email:

Newsletter Archive


Home | Fine Art Prints | Products | Workshops | Announcements | Online Gallery
Consulting Services | Contact Info | Site Index | Related Web | Mailing List


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

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gallery Hours are by Appointment.

Last updated on January 10, 2015 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2014, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide