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Aerial Dawn. Sacramento Valley 2016. Canon 5DSr. Click to order a print. Next Workshop The Golden Gate March 19-20, 2016.

Welcome to the March 2016 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

My friend, photographer, educator and mentor Al Weber passed away last weekend at 86. There has been little else on my mind since. But going through photographs for this Newsletter brought me back to recent journeys, which really became something of a tribute in my heart to Al. Stay on the journey...

This month's View From Here column features some photographs and experiences from my recent Pt. Lobos and Klamath Falls workshops. It includes some initial thoughts on the loss of my good friend Al Weber. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments. Our Tutorial Section walks through a quick depth of field expansion technique I used on a recent Mt. Shasta photograph.


  • 2016 Winter/Spring Workshop Schedule has been posted with these and other great courses coming up. See what a great experience students have had on Steve's Workshops by exploring Workshop Testimonials.

    The Golden Gate: March 19-20, 2016. A two day digital photography workshop exploring San Francisco's Golden Gate. We'll spend time in the Presidio with its tremendous views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point with its spectacular views of the bridge, the Marin Headlands with Point Bonita Lighthouse, views along and San Francisco's ocean headlands of Land's End and the Sutro Baths near 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, with great on-site help from Steve.

photo review

Steve in daily group discussion with his December Image Editing Workshop.
Photos 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 our Newsletter Archive and some 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



Swans in Formation. Klamath Wildlife Refuge. 2016.

Swans in Formation. 2016.
Canon 5DSr

11x13 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each.


2016 Workshop Schedule
Golden Gate: March 19-20, 2016
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on: April 23-26, 2016
Flora and Form: from Orchid Gardens to Digital Lab: May 5-7, 2016
Highway One: May 14-15, 2016
Pt. Lobos and Carmel. A Canon Workshop May 21-24, 201
RAW to Print Bootcamp: June 6-10, 2016
Printing Photographic Beauty: July 10-16, 2016. Maine Media Workshops
Vision and Craft Bootcamp: October 2-8, 2016. Maine Media Workshops

printing class

Waiting for Moonrise on Cadillac Mountain. Acadia Workshop. 2015. Peter J Sucy..

Speaking Events (see below)

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Cap Cloud. Mt. Shasta from the Klamath Wildlife Refuge. 2016. Canon 5Dsr

A colorful dawn became a black and white vision.


Purchase a print of this photograph

mosstree and

Trentophilia on Cypress. Pt. Lobos. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

by Stephen Johnson

Travels and a Lonelier Road Ahead

A series of lectures and workshops took me up through northern California and into Oregon this month, then on back to my old haunts at Pt. Lobos and a final attempt to see my old friend Al Weber.

We drove to Klamath Falls in Oregon for my classes at the Winter Wings Festival. I wanted to go up Highway One, through country I had not been to in a long time. The Redwoods of California's north coast, its small towns, eastern Oregon desert and forests, were all part of a journey that seemed a bit like time travel as it had been so long since I had been up that way.


Tundra Swans. Klamath Wildlife Refuge. Oregon. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

The festival is held next to the Klamath Wildlife Refuge which gifts us with birds by the thousands. There were so many in the sky that it was hard to know where to look. The photographic challenges of flying birds in the distance presented many challenges, but there was no resisting trying. The occasional flourish of wings, or take offs and landings were the most dramatic. But the almost musical notes of the flocks flying in formation was the most amazing of all. And they were singing, or at least trumpeting.

As I later told my audience during my festival keynote, I am not a wildlife photographer. But I do find the opportunities i see often irresistible and I do keep trying to overcome the the shutter speed/IOS/focus/focal length challenges. I am always pleased when I manage to rise to making a reasonable photograph, but am often frustrated by the technical challenges, particularly when a great moment is rendered poorly.


Elk. Redwood National Park.. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.



Avenue of the Giants. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

California's north coast is a world into itself, unlike any other part of the state. It is rural, but more forest than open land, misty, enabling redwood rain-forests filled with the smell of wet wood and decay, and mixed up culturally with old loggers, pot growers, college students, old hippies and in their backwoods retreats. Of course these stereotypes don't get at the actual diversity of people and experiences in the region. The region does have a different feel, slower pace, and real sense of place. I would need to spend more time to come up with actual adjectives. I have always been intrigued though.



Layered Trees. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

The drive up California's Highway One was nostalgic for me, many memories being recalled. But it is not an area I know well. We stopped so many times along the road I was grateful for the GPS on my camera, just to remember the locations. I wanted to remember many of them, for research and as I enjoy revisiting places and seeing their evolution.


chainsaw man

Chainsaw Man. Avenue of the Giants. 2016.

My Western Artifacts Series seems to always get a boost traveling through the rural west, and this trip was no exception. Sometimes all you have to do is care enough to stop, and point the camera. The photograph is already made by the art on the side of the road.

grass and sun

Rain and Sun. Klamath Wildlife Refuge. Oregon. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

The Winter Wings Festival brought me up to Klamath Falls in southern Oregon. I enjoy that mountain/desert edge that runs 2000 miles up from the southern Sierra all the way to Canada. The wetlands and consequent bird life was the origin of the festival, and as it gradually migrated even deeper into photography, many photo programs have been added. It was a pleasure to be up here and be of some help.

A completely unexpected pleasure was seeing my old friend Madeline Graham (Blake) who was the exhibit designer for my At Mono Lake and Great Central Valley exhibitions at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. She was even nice enough to introduce my keynote at the conference:


Madeline Graham Blake Introducing Stephen Johnson at the Winter Wings Festival
and Talk Part One. 2016. Video thanks to Fiona McDonnell.


Canon enabled my talk at Winter Wings. It has been a great part of being part of Canon's Explorers of Light Program, that I am invited to so many places across the country that I would not likely ever see otherwise. These last ten years I've been involved in the program have been great. Thank you Canon.



Bald Eagle in Tree. Klamath Wildlife Refuge. Oregon. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

It was a real pleasure to stand silently and watch a bald eagle for almost an hour. The eagle paid me little attention, but I couldn't take my eyes off of him/her. My lens wasn't long enough for a portrait, only 600mm, but I thought the tree branches themselves were a nice design element.

paper mill

Paper Mill. Longview, WA. Columbia River. Washington/Oregon Border. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

As part of an ongoing search for a less expensive place to live than the San Francisco Bay Area, we took some time to drive up along the Columbia River. One vista along the Washington/Oregon border with lumber mills lining the river, was quite a complex of human altered landscape. Not what we are looking for but quite a scene.


...continued top of right column of the essay

Al Weber

Al Weber. Mission San Antonio. 2011.
Canon 1Ds III.

Al Weber (1930-2016)

My dear friend and mentor Al Weber passed away the last weekend of February. Al was 86 years old and had not been in good health for a long time.

Al was a very special man, a good, solid photographer, and a singular educator. He was very direct, but kind. As an educator, he was always sensitive to the heart behind the image, but very clear if he saw pretense of affectation. He could easily see BS, and had little patience for it. I saw him encourage people's work where I had to look hard to see the potential he recognized.

I always trusted Al to tell me what he thought. We didn't always agree, but found so much common ground that our friendship grew close from very early on. He was completely trustworthy, in every sense of that word. He was highly opinionated, sometimes even hard-headed, but not full of himself. What ego I saw in Al seemed to be born of self confidence that he knew he worked hard, but that there was also so much still to do. He was more open to my early digital photo explorations than any other photo friend of mine. The ex-Marine was still present in him, but so was a teddy bear.


steve and al

Steve and Al Weber. 2012.
Photo by Fiona McDonnell.

I first met Al Weber in Lee Vining Canyon about 1975 on a University of California Santa Cruz Extension Photography Workshop at Mono Lake which he was co-teaching with his good friend Ralph Putzker. It was to be one of the most fortuitous meetings of my life. Both Al and Ralph became friends and mentors. My friendship with each of them lasted for the rest of their lives. With Al, that was 40 years.

Ralph Putzker was chairman of the Art Dept. at San Francisco State University where I was about to transfer to complete my BA. Ralph became a lifelong inspiration to me as an extraordinarily gifted educator, and as my friend.

al and ralph

Al Weber and Ralph Putzker. Hornitos, CA 1973.
Photo by Mark Citret.

Al Weber became a friend and mentor, lending deep help to my At Mono Lake project, co-curating it with me, and providing introductions to Ansel Adams and so many others. Al helped run and taught at Ansel's Yosemite Workshops from 1963-1981. He asked me to join him to teach at the 1979 workshop and opened door for me to teach at the Friends of Photography and UC Santa Cruz Extension workshops. Our friendship continued to the end of his life last week.

Al went out of his way to make a huge difference in my life. I will be forever grateful for the help, but mostly for the friendship.

It's too soon to write much as yet. There are just too many feelings and too many stories to sort out just yet. I will post some audio interviews and videos as I can.


Video of Steve's Talk at Al Weber Influences Panel at Al's opening for his Aerial Show.
Center for Photographic Art. Carmel, CA. 2011.


I would often take my Pt. Lobos Workshops up to see Al at his studio. His sensitivity and connection to photography as artistic expression inspired countless students for over 50 years.

al weber with students

Al Weber Showing my 2011 Pt. Lobos Workshop some of his work on our Studio Visit


Al's self-penned Obituary in the Monterey Hearld. Written in 2011.


2001-2009 Al Weber Newsletters on line

Al Weber about his work

The Lumière Gallery in Atlanta has this biography:

Al Weber was born in Denver Colorado in 1930. He received an A.A. in photography and a B.A. in Eduction from the University of Denver and served as a Captain in the Marines during the Korean Conflict. After his military service he moved to the Monterey Peninsula and established himself as a commercial photograph. Weber’s career spans six decades. He is internationally recognized for the breadth of his work and contributions as a teacher and mentor. Weber’s images have been shown in over 200 exhibitions. An accomplished commercial photographer, his commissions include work for Time-Life, Fortune and Holiday magazines. Corporate clients include Dupont, Kaiser, International Harvester, Eastman Kodak, Polaroid and Hasselblad. His photographs are in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, M. H. de Young Museum, UCLA, Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Ansel Adams Collection.



Al Weber.
Red Tractor. San Joaquin Valley 1974.

weber badwater

Al Weber.
Road to Badwater. Death Valley. 1971.

weber badwater

Al Weber. Badwater. Death Valley. 1974
Photo by Jim Ginney.

A Few Al Weber Links


Please let me know any comments you might have on this column.


Recently at SJ Photo

Our Black and White Printing class went well with many beautiful prints being made, with more to come as the students return home and apply their new skills and understanding the of files we worked on. It reminded me again of what a pleasure it is to make difference for people.



Surf and Rocks. Pt. Lobos. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

The Pt. Lobos and Carmel class brought us some beautiful soft light and a really nice group of people up from the FStops Camera Club in southern California's San Fernando Valley.

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..

  • Central Oregon Community College. Saturday November 5th.
  • Napa College. November 17th.
  • 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 talk


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

Custom Workshop Scheduling

People often want to take workshops and the dates just don't match up with their schedules. Sometimes they watch the newsletter and webpage for years for their interest, free time and the workshop to all coincide. We've decided to be proactive in creating a forum for potential students to tell us what you need and when you can take a class. Please email us with workshop ideas and suggestions.

More formally, we are experimenting with a workshop poll to determine when interested people can make particular workshops they really want to take.

Currently we have up a few workshops to experiment:

Workshop Polls Homepage

Quick Depth of Field Expansion


Grasses and Mountain. Mt. Shasta

On our recent trip to Klamath Falls Oregon, we did a dawn session back over the California line onto the Klamath Wildlife Refuge. It was a lovely dawn, but it was very special indeed to have a view of Mt Shasta in the rising sun capped by a bubble cloud.

My best photograph of the scene included the grasses below the mountain in the refuge pools near me. The depth of field demands were real. I made a few photographs at f13 trying to get both sharp. I also took two images at a wider aperture (f8) with one focusing on the grasses, and one on the distant mountain.

I then opened the two photos into Layers in Photoshop, aligned them, and masked out the blurry grasses on the distant image, letting the sharp grasses and water show through on the bottom.

Previous Tutorial and Technique Posts


Shasta Layered

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National Park Color Note card Set
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12 cards/envelopes $20 set

From "With a New Eye" Beautiful 300 line screen offset reproductions with envelopes in clear box. A great gift.


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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

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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

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Last updated on March 25, 2016 . Mail comments to:
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