Ice Covered Mountains and Breaking Sun, Errera Channel, Antarctica. 2009. Canon 1Ds Mark III.

Southwest Workshop in Monument Valley. Utah. 2003


Just had a "wonderful four days" in Steve's Printing workshop. "The workshop was satisfying in every way---and real world ---beginning from how annoying and balky digital devices can be all the way to how superb prints are within the reach and the grasp of mere mortals (like me). The recipe is disarmingly simple: add equal parts of education, inspiration, perspiration, frustration mitigation, insight, excellent technical support and equipment; mix liberally (all meanings); season with a generous spirit and humor and out comes a great four day workshop."

George Andros
Los Angeles, California


Other Workshop Testimonials


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

We're going to address the slump in the economy head-on. A 40% off print sale, goodies with workshops, referral discounts and low cost evening classes...

Coming right up is our most popular workshop, the Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-On class March 19-22. As we are low on enrollment for this workshop, we are including this month's Featured Print as a workshop bonus. We are also including a one-hour DVD prototype we have made on matting and framing.

As you might imagine, workshop enrollments are dramatically down since the economic crisis hit last fall. We are having to evaluate how to keep the lab open and keep teaching studio workshops. If you wanted to take the printing class, now would be a great time. If you can help us get the word out better, 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. The field workshops will continue however the studio space evolves.

As a nod to tightened budgets and in response to many requests, we are offering our very economical Basic Digital Camera Use and Making Better Digital Photographs classes as a pair of evening events in April, Monday night April 13 and April 20. These are offered to the photo community and the general public as a help up into the world of digital photography.

Field workshops this spring will take us to one of the most special places on the west coast of America, Pt. Lobos. The Pt. Lobos/Carmel workshop starts April 18 and includes a visit to Carmel Galleries and a special session with photographer Al Weber at his Carmel Highlands studio. In May join us on our Highway One and the San Mateo Coast workshop exploring redwood rainforests, cliffs and beaches, plus the unique coastal architecture of Mendocino.

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.


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


...GPS and Canon Cameras
...Now Carrying Hoodman Loupe
Added to our Special Collections
Featured Print Offer
Star Trails, Death Valley
The View From Here
...The Photo Workshop Experience
The Digital Book
...Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
Workshop News
...Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on
...Pt. Lobos and Carmel
...Highway One and the San Mateo Coast
...Southwest Digital Journey
...Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra
Upcoming Events
...Maine Media Workshops
...Iceland Photography Workshop
...Hallmark Institute of Photography
...CIPNE Conference
...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 Website Article Posted

Connecting a GPS unit directly to a digital SLR and other cameras has long been a goal of mine....

more Lectures and Articles Online

Added to the Stephen Johnson Photography Special Collections

Stereo Autochrome
Photographer: Unknown
Circa: 1900-1925

Stereo Card Collection
Photographer: Various
Circa: 1900-1925
Added to Collection: 2009

New Product

2009 calendar

Hoodman Loupe 3.0

Imagine being able to see your camera screen in detail, in any kind of outdoor lighting.

This is a tool so terrific for viewing your camera LCD screen in the field that we felt that we had to resell them and make them directly available to our audience. This is a critical ingredient to your digital fieldwork.

Featured Products


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

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. Please take a look and browse. There 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.

March 2009


Star Trails, Hills and Laser. Death Valley 2009.
11x14 Pigment Print on Rag paper
$195 each

A six minute exposure looking to the northeast sky, the Big Dipper and Polaris. The green laser was simply fun to play with. Thanks to my intern and friend Michael Berkeypile for really wanting to out and do some night photography even after the long workshop day.

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


The Photo Workshop Experience

In 1998 and much to my family's relief, I moved my work out of our house and opened up a commercial space. We built galleries and a good workspace there, teaching lecture classes in the studio. In 2004, for less rent, I moved my business to a 4000 square feet suite of classrooms and galleries in a community Art Center. In 2005 I decided to add a first class digital lab and teaching facility, built with the eqipment that really needs to be available to teach digital photography. We've had a wonderful series of workshops, great people, seen some fantastic photographs emerge, and I remain very proud of what we've done at Stephen Johnson Photography, with a great staff, hard-working interns and students from around the world. It has been a very rewarding experience.

Getting the word out on the workshops has always been challenging. It is also true that I've never been very good at promotion, and when that is added to a real caution in the air nowadays about spending, the studio workshop program is no longer supporting itself. although I will continue to do field workshops, the lab/classroom and gallery has to be looked at and outreach enlarged. As I contemplate how to accomplish that, I thought I might reflect of the workshop experience itself.

There are many ingredients that make a workshop worthwhile, wonderful locations, photographic inspiration, good information when you need it, a breakthrough in an area the brain or heart was resisting, camaraderie, all of these are reasons people take photography workshops. It seems everybody wants to lead workshops for similar reasons.

Whether in the studio or in the field, the most important aspect of the workshop experience is the learning, making sure the student has the option to get help with an issue when it arises, and for the instructor to make sure the student understands the reasoning behind the help. Information delivered in a non-precious, supportive tone, with a willingness to repeat the idea until it is clear, these are some of the attributes of a good workshop instructor and experience.


Death Valley Workshop on Dante's View at Dawn. 2009.


I've been teaching photography since 1977, and workshops since 1978. I've met a lot of people over those decades. Most all have visual sensitivity that I could understand, most had technical questions that they needed help with. Many had a love for the planet and of being there but they just couldn't help but generalize with wide views possessing little intensity. I've worked with these issues for many years, and eventually decided that I would confront some of the visualization and compositional possibilities right up front. So that's what I do, spend the first morning a field workshop, talking, looking, discussing aspirations, form, design, heart and distillation.

Sometimes students take workshops to make great photographs under the guidance of the instructor. This can happen, but since much serendipity can also play into that magic that makes a photograph worth capturing, I would change the emphasis to one less about product, and more about process. It is the learning after all, that stays. Work toward understanding your instructor and fellow students think about the process, watch the care they exercise, or the sloppiness. Learn from what those around you seem to be doing right, and those things that seem too casual.

It is hard to overemphasize the importance of being in a multi-day single-minded commitment to photography with others similarly committed. The wonder of being with family and friends doesn't necessarily lend itself to also making strong photographs. A person not involved in photography or the art can well have great difficulty understanding how we can spend an hour at a mud hole. A workshop can provide that support for the extended mud hole experience.

As an instructor, I think the contract one makes with students in a workshop is to set your own photography aside, and concentrate on making a difference for people. It is not always easy to do, as parades of wonder can be passing us by, and no one wants to talk at all, just see and work. In the middle of such experiences though, you must still be there for your students. You must make sure it is understood that as the instructor, you are completely interruptible when you are working alongside them, make sure they know you are there to help. If you have other priorities, perhaps teaching workshops should not be your endeavor.


Steve and Macbeth Chart. Petermann Island, Antarctica, 2009. Photograph by Seth Resnick.


In the field, I do my best to wander among my students, see how they are doing, look for hesitations and try to address them. I offer them my handy pocket Macbeth chart or my digital graycap. I carry my Hoodman Loup so we can both see what they've done. Impromptu demonstrations of depth of field and composition are turned into group experiences. It is building knowledge, belonging, and sense of common purpose.

It is also about good organization, with flexibility built in. The weather changes, roads close, people just end up plain tired. Some groups need more time to absorb one thing, others need something different. I may not believe in the use of the word master in almost any case, but you do have to steer a multidimensional evolving array of energy, aspirations, comprehension and enthusiasm.


On the beach. Highway One San Mateo Coast Workshop. 2005. Photograph by Michelle Perazzo.


Teaching can be so rewarding though. It is after all, about making a difference. What is also so rewarding is that difference cuts both ways, my life has been deeply enriched by my companions on this teaching journey, my students.


In the Studio

In studio classes, the hands-on help is super critical. Real issues can be addressed when they arise, a solution found, perhaps even a few alternatives. Sometimes I feel a bit like a detective, trying to figure out what is really going on in a students head, and their file, what conceptual connection needs assistance. But it is uniquely rewarding making that connection and finding a direction.

I often spend classroom time as individual time, untangling my students from a binding web of internet recommendations that either are about something else, often unnecessary. Sometime I'm working to free my students from a sense that they are supposed to do a bunch of stuff to their image to be a real professional. It is often shocking to students when I tell them they are over working an image.

Play in Photoshop has its own initial rewards and almost certain long term frustration. I sometimes walk up to a student's workstation and see dozens of Layers whose purpose they have a hard time explaining. Sometimes these arrays of edit layers are characterized as play. I usually stop them, turn off the Layers, look at the file. I then continue by saying, is there something unrealized here, is there something wrong? I try then to address those issues however, leading toward the real question: Does of the magic come through of what you saw? What was your intent when you pressed the shutter release?

Although it is true I can make the most difference in the student's photography when we are in the field (as is true of the photographer). It is also true that it is very rewarding to help a student to reveal the image they actually made, but that might be hidden in camera shortcomings and light challenges.

I try to help students look at the photograph for what the scene was, and explore bringing it to that initial intention. Again the feeling of being a detective comes to mind, helping to unravel intention and possibility. I try to encourage them to leave their prejudices behind about what photography has been and look hard at the image. Look toward finishing the photograph, not "enhancing" it into something else. I want to help people build the skills to finish their photograph into an image that can sing for what it is. If they want to turn into a some sort of digital painting later, that fine, but I want them to have the digital photographic skills to carefully finish their photograph.

All of this is part of what makes teaching editing and printing courses so rewarding, the ringing out of the beauty chorus when holding a finished, proud print.



Exploring the finer points of the new print. Fine Art Printing Workshop. 2006.


It is also often true that the hardware, software and techniques we now have to employ are somewhat proactive and require a broad understanding to finesse into the needed usability or simplicity that should be present. Color management seems a good example here as it is not nearly as complex nor incomprehensible as many students have feared or many instructors have poorly explained and made unusable. This specific problem often comes up because the teacher doesn't really get it, and consequently gets lost in trying to explain it.

As an instructor, the responsibility to do a good job is almost sacred. There are few endeavors in our human community of deeper value than passing on the gift of knowledge. Creating and delivering and extraordinary experience is fundamental to good teaching.

Some Great Instructors

I've worked with some great instructors, many not known to the new digital photo world, some well known to those that have been involved in photography for decades.

Outstanding among them was my good friend Ralph Putzker. Ted Orland and Al Weber, Jerry Uelsmann, are fine photography teachers. Real knowledge, enthusiasm, no pretense, clarity of thought and presentation, being prepared, humility and self-confidence, did I mention real knowledge.


Al Weber and Ralph Putzker Teaching, 1973. Photograph by Mark Citret.


Great teaching seems hard to find these days. Digital photography has created such deep need for information, and fewer known and trusted verifiers of competence. Once upon a time, if Ansel Adams invited you to teach at his workshops more than once, that was a good calling card. If those few photographers known for provocative teaching like Minor White or Wynn Bullock offered a workshop, you went.

It is a bit of a free for all these days of whoever can manage to get attention through whatever means, with a litany of tips and trick being a qualifier. Oh, the stories I hear... But photographic instruction is still vitally needed, people like my friend Bobbi Lane teaching portrait lighting, Mark Klett talking about his photographic projects, Mary Virginia Swanson presenting on the business of photo lectures. Who have been great instructors for you?

Looking back, it is clear to me that some of the people I learned the most from in college and in workshops were my fellow students. We struggled with so any of the same issues, were seeking a place, a reason and felt passion for art. Questions to each other were completely nitrification, connections were shared, being a little lost as well. One of us knew Brett Weston, so we all piled in a van and headed down to see him...Many still inspire me to this day, like my friend Lyle Gomes.


Some of Our Workshop Student Testimonials

Workshops Page



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.

Evening Photography classes: April 2009

Basic Digital Camera Use and Making Better Digital Photographs classes as a pair of evening events Monday night April 13 and April 20.


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.

We are also including a one-hour DVD prototype we have made on matting and framing for all enrollees.


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 do a special session with photographer Al Weber at his Carmel Highlands studio in this three-day immersion into classical California landscape photography.

pt lobos map

pt lobos


Highway One and the San Mateo Coast
May 2-3, 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.


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, 2009



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. 9am to noon.


CIPNE Conference.
The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Natick, MA
Saturday April 4, 1pm


Fine-Art Landscape Photography in the Digital Age
A Lecture by Stephen Johnson
Berkeley Camera Club
April 28, 2009 7:30pm
Northbrae Church, 941 The Alameda, Berkeley, California

At The Studio Gallery

Critique Session
April 23, 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
April 24, 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. 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

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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Photographs and Text Copyright ©2009, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.