Coast Workshop Slide Show.

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


Road Posts. Stage Road (Old Highway One). 1978.
see Highway One and the San Mateo Coast Workshop. June 6-7, 2009.


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

We hope your summer plans are shaping up with lots of photographic activity. We have a busy summer here and hope you might be able to join us on some of our adventures.

We're pleased to announce our Internship and Workshop Scholarship programs this month. Please let people know.

Coming right up, join us on our Highway One and the San Mateo Coast Workshop exploring redwood rainforests, cliffs and beaches, old stagecoach roads and coastal hamlets.

Summer brings 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.

The 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.

Our urban landscape San Francisco Digitally Workshop is back with a offering at a recession-busting special price.

Field excursions this summer include the spectacular 12 day Southwest Digital Journey Workshop. This is a rare to spend 12 days getting to know the southwest with Steve's help all along the way. It is 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 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.


Workshop Testimonials


Highway One and the San Mateo Coast coming right up June 6-7, 2009

Intern and Scholarship Programs

New Video: Matting and Framing

Brian O'Neill: A friend and great friend of the earth, and the National Parks Service passed away this month. More on Brian below.

June 2009


Mussel Rock Canyon, Pacifica. 2009.
Canon 1Ds Mark III
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each

This caught my eye, vibrating onsite, seemed strongest in black, silver and white...

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 June 30. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by July 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.



Petrified Forest Hills. 1995.

Curiosity and Photography

We are creatures of curiosity. Photography has proved a great channel for that insatiable appetite to understand and appreciate the world around us. We also like to make things, both products of our hands, and products of our minds and heart. Again, photography gives vent to all of those aspirations.

As so many aspects of our character come into play with the photographic impulse, it is also not surprising how it can be become an obsessive pursuit. It draws upon passion and the hunger inside many of us feel to create. As we explore the world with our camera, our view of the world is forever touched, changed by the detail and attention to light that normal life has us notice in passing at best. Our place in world itself gets subtly changed, we become more intimately involved as residents of the planet, we notice what we would have previously missed, we spend long periods of time dwelling on a scene we sense contains something of intuitive meaning, even if we aren't yet quite sure what it is.

Of course, this also breeds aspiration for the photograph to cause the viewer to experience what the photographer experienced. As the language of photography is light, it has a limited ability to do this. But photography also has a magical capability to reach toward the inspiration, and elude to it in ways deeply unique to the medium of light.

That is often the challenge, to witness something special, and hold it photographically in such a way that it can be a suggestion of not only the physical scene, but the emotional reactions of the photographer. That reaches toward metaphor, abstraction, and beauty in so many indefinable ways, a sense of order and design out of a very large and visually overwhelming world. The process itself can become a quiet corridor of exchange between the photographer and the earth, not necessarily anything profound, but a period of contemplation over what is there, how one sees it, and how it might translate into a photographic experience.

In a way, a photograph becomes a small stamp of understanding, a comprehension of something previously unknown, perhaps completely unnoticed. That is one of photography's fundamental magics, to lead us, through our own devices, to places and moments we would never have otherwise experienced. That is also part of why it is so addictive, there is great satisfaction in that stamp of understanding.


Abstractions. 2009 and 1978.

Playing with photography engages this exploration Playing tries new approaches, new perspectives, new subject matter. It also buys us new toys and oftentimes distraction of mere technique. But sometimes even toys help breakthroughs. Creativity knows no limits or clear paths, it is by nature intuitively improvisational. It almost has to be. The paths through the exploration are as broad as there are different humans engaged in the endeavor. I've suggested for years that in this age of digital manipulation software playing is often more distraction than inspiration, but it still engenders play, and whether the result is any longer about photography doesn't matter. If it is heartfelt, it is important to explore. Curiosity leads us many places.


Wall. Mt. St.Helens. 1995.


I would also hope that curiosity extends way beyond where photography starts, to where it often ends as a print, asking us to discover new manifestations of our photographs. Rules about look and feel, must have blacks, must have whites, must look plastic, must, must, must...must somehow be quelled. Imagining new looks to our photographs, new measures of beauty, new intimacies with the real world, are all directions I enjoy pursing and encouraging.

My own work developed a style long before the advent of digital, but it is a style dramatically enabled by wider dynamic range, greater sensitivity to highlight detail, more accurate recording of color, simply more detail. All of which have been deeply empowered by my interests by our new electronic cameras and their digital files.

Brian O'Neill (1941-2009)

Brian O'Neill

I just went to a memorial service for a good friend of wild lands and national parks Brian O'Neill, Superintendent of Golden Gate National Parks. The service was held on the lovingly restored Crissy Field in the Presidio, in full view of San Francisco, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Brian was a friend, a great supporter of the power of landscape photography to make a significant difference in the preservation of our parklands and real ally here in Pacifica for our current national park lands and their expansion in the San Mateo Coast. He was a deep influence on thousands of people he worked with over his long career and on building Golden Gate Parks into a first-class member of the national park family. He was truly a fine man with a generous spirit and unswerving commitment to the American landscape as embodied by the National Park Service.

As a board member of the Pacific Land Trust, I worked with Brian on a number of projects, including the acquisition of Mori Point into the park and was proud to have him visit my gallery more than once.

Brian passed away in May from a post-surgical infection.

Park Service Tribute page

Site Visit on Pedro Point. Brian O’Neil, Superintendent GGNRA, Chris Powell GGNRA and Pacifica City Councilman Jim Vreeland, 2005..



An Adobe RGB ProPhotoRGB comparison on a somewhat saturated flower.




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:



Highway One and the San Mateo Coast
Studios of Stephen Johnson Photography, Pacifica, CA and the nearby coastlands
June 6-7, 2009

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

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

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.



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 logoMaine Media Workshops


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

Interview on the Workshop


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 June 4, 2009 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2009, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.