Gulf of the Farallones, Pacific Ocean. 2009.

On the last Southwest Workshop....

"It was the trip of a lifetime"
-Curt Kiest

To sum up in one word: Superb! Going out with Stephen to photograph extraordinary sites at dawn and dusk made me rethink what and how I photograph… 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 this trip so memorable.
-Andrew Stern


Petrified Dunes. Zion Natoinal Park. 2003..
see Southwest Journey Workshop. August 9-20, 2009.



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

I'm just back from teaching two weeks at the Maine Media workshops. I met some great people and saw great progress in their skills. The trip is the subject of my column this month.

We're coming right up on our answer to all questions digital, our intensive RAW to Print Summer Digital Boot Camp, July 13-17. This workshop is strictly limited to 10 people but still has a few spaces.

Our urban landscape San Francisco Digitally Workshop follows the RAW class with an offering at a special recession-busting special price.

The late July Iceland Workshop could still use a few of you out there to join in on this great week-long sojourn to this beautiful volcanic island country.

Field excursions this summer include the spectacular 12 day Southwest Digital Journey Workshop. This is a rare opportunity to spend 12 days getting to know the southwest with my help all along the way. It should be quite an adventure.

In the fall, the exotic Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra Workshop in October will take us to this high desert sea surrounded by strange tufa towers, volcanic cones, an unearthly high desert setting, all touched by autumn color.

If you can help us get the word out better on the workshops, please be in touch. Referral credits are now available, giving you 10% off the next workshop you take for every enrollee you send to us. Please let people know about our Internship and Workshop Scholarship program.


Workshop Testimonials


RAW to Print Workshop. Last chance to Register!

Intern and Scholarship Programs

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

New DVD: Matting and Framing

July 2009


Fog Waves. Acadia National Park. Maine. 2009.
Canon 1Ds Mark III
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each

On our field trip to Acadia from the Maine Media workshop, we were amazed at these standing waves of fog pushing over the islands in Frenchman Bay beyond Bar Harbor. It was an unreal and delicate scene, ever changing without seeming to move at all.

We're offering an 11x14 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 July 31. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by August15th.

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.



Jordan Pond. Acadia National Park. Maine. 2009

Adventures in Maine and Teaching

The last few weeks have been busy in Maine teaching for the Maine Media Workshops. Two classes, two weeks, full schedule. It rained almost the entire time I was there, but not so much we were not able to get out and photograph on the Landscape class, and the rain really didn't effect the Fine Art Printing class at all. The light was really quite beautiful the whole time. The rain and silver light seemed magical to me.

Bobbi Lane, Camden Harbor. Maine. 2009

My good friend Bobbi Lane and I hung out quite a bit. She is a rare spirit of enthusiasm and knowledge. If you ever get a chance to take a class with Bobbi, either at ICP in New York, or at one of her many workshops in Connecticut, LA or Santa Fe, she is a great teacher and talented photographer. Her portrait and lighting workshops are great as is her Portraits Unplugged DVD.


Restored Fire Engine. Firefly Restorations. Hope. Maine. 2009

Bobbi and I took in at least one real photographic adventure with Andy Swift and his FireFly fire engine restorations. Andy Swift's Firefly Restoration barn was absolutely amazing, a menagerie of fire fighting equipment in various states of decay and stunning restoration, complemented with a WWII B-29 engine, various motorbikes, a glider, all tools and workspaces imaginable, in a thoroughly human and loving space. Housed in a traditional old Maine chicken house, there was so much equipment that it was often a squeeze just to move around.

Andy Swift, Firefly Restorations. Hope. Maine. 2009

Our first look was before Andy arrived and was fascinating, but the tour Andy gave us, regaled with stories was an absolute plunge into a world of history, heroes, unlikely scenarios and pure love of man and machine. Andy is a first-class character, and he clearly wants to be, and clearly wants to share his love for these machines and the people behind their history.

Acadia National Park. Maine. 2009

For my Landscape class, the highlight of our field work was our trip up to Acadia National Park and our surprising view from Cadillac Mountain of fog rolling over the islands beyond Bar Harbor below in Frenchman Bay. We were amazed at these standing waves of fog pushing over the islands in Frenchman Bay beyond Bar Harbor. It was an unreal and delicate scene, ever changing without seeming to move at all.

Ania looking over prints. Fine Art Digital Printing class Gallery. Maine Media Workshops. 2009

The Fine Art Printing class had its own highlights, but the best of them were individual moments when the person was able to make that beautiful print they aspired to, or edit their file into a level of finesse they could only have imagined previously. That has deep rewards for student and this teacher for sure.

We did an improvised gallery show on the Friday night of the class. Thanks to Roberta Baumann Gardullo for the photographs from her iPhone. A special thanks is also in order for our wonderful assistant, Emma Powell. Emma shared with a hand-printed book she made Past Time which was quite lovely.

Steve Inspecting Print Progress. Pacifica, California. July 2009

Realizing a Print

As it turned out, my favorite photograph from the day at Acadia proved most difficult to print. It needed a delicacy and glow that had me chasing my tail for awhile. The basic problem was the need for the image on paper to glow, challenged by the need for very subtle highlight tonal distinctions to remain primary.

In printing the Acadia Fog photograph, the specific problem was glow versus highlight detail. I've found even with the highest-end color management in place, prints almost always look grayer on paper than on the screen. This is particularly damaging to the print's beauty in terms of letting the white of the paper through so the print can take on a luminescence akin to what we think of when "writing with light."

This particular photograph keep demanding an ever lighter rendition on paper, while still needing to preserve highlight detail defining the fog waves. I kept lightening the brightest highlights, taking down the values just below the brightest, scaling that brightening back on border areas wiping to pure white, and rocking this balance back and forth over numerous sheets of paper.

I finally got the print to the point that I needed to just walk away and look at it for a few days, and that's where I'm at as I write this Newsletter. As I've made a commitment to offer this print as this month's Featured Print, I'll have to finish it to my satisfaction.

It's not uncommon for me to set goals that seem beyond my reach, then create a scenario where I have to rise to occasion. I'll try not to self-psychoanalyze myself in this regard, and hope that you won't either.



Color Balance in RAW files

Claire Donnelly was our great assistant for my Maine Digital Landscape class. Here is a photo from a class demo processed for color balance "As Shot," "Custom" on the GrayCap, and slightly hand-cooled from neutral to match our immediate experience and the limits of our mental auto-neutral capability. Although the custom balance made the spectrally neutral gray equal RGB numbers, the results were simply too warm as compared to our experience of the raining blue light. A slight modification of the Color Temperature controls in Adobe Camera RAW from 5800k down to 5300k seemed more appropriate.

These controls are built somewhat counter-intuitively, taking out yellow to remove some of the warmth means moving the Temp slider to the left, and a redder Kelvin number, but the effect is to move toward the blue. This has been pointed out several times to Adobe as not making sense, but I only have so much influence.


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 are 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

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 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:

From RAW to Print in One Week
Summer Digital Boot Camp
Studios of Stephen Johnson Photography, Pacifica, CA
July 13-17, 2009


An intense immersion into digital photography with one of its pioneers. In five days you will go from perhaps not even understanding what a RAW file is, to making well-crafted and thoughtful prints. Some fieldwork and extensive lecture and lab work will fill our time together. Every student will have full access to their own workstation in our lab. Topics include practical experience with digital exposure, RAW processing, image editing, color management and printing.

Included in the workshop is a copy of Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography, courtesy of O'Reilly Media.




sf panotranfort point

San Francisco Digitally
July 18-19, 2009
In and around San Francisco for the workshop and 15 miles south at Stephen Johnson Photography Studios in Pacifica for the pre-meeting and critique.

A two day digital photography workshop exploring some of San Francisco's most visually interesting areas. We'll spend time in the Presidio with its old forts and forests, downtown skyscraper cityscapes, the Palace of Fine Arts World's Fair remnants, Fort Point with its spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, (and possibly the Marin Headlands) and the urban eden of Golden Gate Park. We will also take in the restored Cliff House and its historic Camera Obscura. Much time will be spent walking and looking, knowing we will be in the area for awhile, giving you the freedom to explore, but also keeping help nearby


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.
de chelly

Professional Image Editing
September 19-22, 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.

Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
September 26-29, 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.


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. The presence of this huge lake in the eastern sierra desert is improbable at best, its out of place character is pervasive, at times seeming more lunar than terrestrial.

Mono Lake can change from a tranquil expanse of silver water to a blue-green stormy sea in minutes. It is a most intriguing place. It is both a challenge and a pleasure to photograph at Mono Lake. But Mono Lake's beauty does not necessarily make it easy to photograph here. The desert sun can be harsh, and the horizon can appear endless. It takes time and patience to catch the subtlety of Mono's moods. The autumn weather should provide some interesting cloud formations. The lake's strange landforms can easily become ordinary when photographed casually. Consequently this place demands a certain intensity to do it visual justice. A primary goal of our time spent together will be to slow down and understand the lake on a more intimate level than might normally be possible.

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.

death valley

Death Valley in Winter
January 28-31, 2010

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

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


Iceland: Mastery of Landscape
July 26-August 1, 2009

Interview on the Workshop



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


An Artist and the Land: Stephen Johnson and the Great Central Valley
University of California Merced. Merced, California.

With a special walk through of the Great Central Valley Exhibit.
Thursday September 17, 2009, 7pm. University Library Room KL 355


Photography's Brilliant Future. Stephen Johnson.

6Sight Future of Imaging Conference Monterey
Monterey Conference Center

November 12. 2009. 9am

At The Studio Gallery

Galleries open 10am to 5pm Monday Through Friday most weeks. Call for an appointment as summer hours do vary.


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.



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. Make an offer. Must pick up. Donations to educational/charitable organizations will also be considered.

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

Printers being replaced:
  • Epson 2200 $300

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 vdiedo demostrating how to prepare, measure, cut your matts, lable 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 prooject, 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.

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 July 24, 2009 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2009, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.