acadia fog

Fog over Bar Harbor. Acadia National Park, Maine. 2009. Maine Media Workshops 2009 Landscape Class. Canon 1Ds Mark III.


Welcome to the May 2010 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.

This month's View From Here column Photography, Light and Being There wanders through the making of photographs as an intrinsically valuable experience in and of itself. A short comment on Photoshop CS5's HDR Toning follows the essay.

May brings our rarely offered Pt. Reyes National Seashore 3 day workshop in Marin County from May 15-17. This expansive park encompasses a wide variety of landscapes, huge vistas and intimate detail. A visually striking park and a great experience awaits us.

June brings our attention back to printing with the Black and White Digital Printing workshop June 12-13. The technology now allows us to make prints of deep beauty in the fine tradition of classical black and white photography. Spend a weekend with us immersed in black and white printing, and come away empowered.

For those of you on the east coast, don't miss our once a year sojourn to Maine with the Maine Media Workshops where I am doing a Digital Landscape class June 20-26 and a Fine Art Digital Printing course June 27-July 4, 2010.

The intensive once a year RAW to Print: Summer Digital Boot Camp is being offered July 12-16. This is an deep plunge into the making, editing and printing of photographs.

I hope some of you can join us this spring and summer for some of these offerings.

Our Summer Travel Adventure Workshops include:

geothermal vent

Geothermal Vent. Iceland. 2009. From Iceland Workshop. Canon 1Ds Mark III.

Workshop Testimonials

I sincerely appreciate Steve sharing his immense knowledge of the photographic process and his insight on my images. His talent as a photographer is matched by his skills as an instructor and I always felt welcome to ask a question or request help.

I sit through many courses both to meet the requirements of my licensing and for my continuing training.  I am rarely if ever impressed with the quality of the instruction.  That was certainly not the case with this workshop.  I looked forward to every day and to what I was going to learn.  Steve's candor, passion was refreshing and always on point.

-David Fox
from May 2010 Fine Art Printing Workshop


Pt. Reyes National Seashore Last chance to Register!

Printers Available for Donation!

Intern and Scholarship Programs

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

DVD: Matting and Framing

May 2010


Icebergs. Antarctica 2005.
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each

Icebergs are fundamentally unbelievable forms of nature. In many ways they are the ultimate visual seduction of Antarctica. This photograph was made from the ship in 2005.

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 May 31. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by June 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.


Photography, Light and Being There

It's spring, the days are wonderfully longer, the birds seem to constantly sing, blue skies are becoming the norm. So much becomes outdoors, rather than hunkering indoors. Summer plans get detailed and ever more real.

The cliches about spring cleanings and renewal do seem to reveal themselves as some sort nascent instinct. There is always so much to do just to maintain, always so many things that have been piling up as intentions or necessity.

Each winter for the past few years I've had a contractual obligation to look back over the last year and choose a few new photographs for the Canon Explorers of Light program to which I belong. As any task, it usually feels like yet another task, but also always forces a stock taking of the work, its direction, and value. Of course, it is well worth doing to be part of the Explorers program.

This years process was no exception to that, but it also coincided with a few lectures where my current presentation on my career seemed particularly slim on whole decades of early work. So I started digging out boxes of prints and scanning them.

The evolution of my landscape work was there, contemporary and historical family photographs, documentary images of various projects, friends and travels remembered, whole little scenarios of ideas and explorations waiting for me to re-experience. I imagined what it must be like to be elderly looking back, the perspective of mid-career now was also moving.

A life in the arts is rich, confusing, invigorating, often challenging and full of wander. The paths don't often seem straight but they are nuanced. We presume that all of these seemingly digressive threads eventually pull together, and perhaps they may. We hope for wisdom, and probably have to settle for experience and some perspective. Hopefully, we make some compelling work along the way.

It's way too soon for me to do any career summations, the threads are still too in play and evolving. I think I am still too young, but that could be the delusions of a 54 year old gray guy still feeling in some ways like a teenager. I do know it has been a life-long journey of self and earth explorations. In my case it runs through scores of journeys, journals, songs and recordings of songs, the stories of convergences, happenstance, opportunity and passion, casual photographs of the times, and the dead-on serious play of my photographic work.

Of course, even seeking perspective is asking a lot. Most of us just want to work and continue to explore where our hearts lead us. Curators and future historians draw the conclusions, if any of them even notice or care about our own particular work. We want to influence, mostly through enticed sensitivities. I've noticed things I value, I want others to notice and care too. I want to make a difference.

I don't believe I have insights, few people carry such gifts. But I have passions, and I've been seduced by so much wonder. I wander with many questions and few answers. The camera asks only that I witness, not that I conclude with profundity. That is fortunate as profundity is also rare.

Steve at Stonnington Island, Antarctica. 2009. Photo by Kevin Raber.

One of the wonders of the arts though, is that the exploration itself has value. The product is a mixture of the curiosity and that exploration. It ultimately manifests itself through craft in fixing the experience, but it is not about the product, it is about the process, the being there, in the most existential reality possible. The witness to the moment that photography seeks, becomes a vital means of being present visually and emotionally to fix a visual impression of that being there. There is something remarkable and alive there, something of value that defies discouragement and financial challenge, something that gives life back at the very moment of plunging in to being there and experiencing life as directly as possible.

Valley of the Gods, Utah, 1977.

Death Valley, 1978.

White Fence, Kayenta. 1977.

Even though photography holds only an impression of the light, in order to witness the light, one has to be there, take in the experience, smell the air, hear the birds, get rolled by the waves, feel the sun on our skin, the deep warming sun on our very human skin.

Making Art gives life. Photography has enabled so much for me.


A Few New Galleries



Photoshop CS5 and HDR Toning

The most significant new feature for me in Photoshop CS5 is the new HDR capabilities including HDR Toning. It is easily my favorite feature in CS5 and has the potential to open up whole new realms of more luminous and realistic photo aesthetics.

Although similar in intent to the often over-used Shadows/Highlights Editor, HDR Toning's effects are much more controllable for me and less prone to the obvious masking effects. Over use into the special effect realm is certainly possible and often probable, but with restraint, this new feature allows for a realism in open shadows and luminosity that can make a significant contribution to photographic veracity.

Specifically, dynamic range in a photograph is often rendered with undue darkness in the shadows and a tendency for near wiping-out of highlights when made bright enough to give a sense of light-filled luminosity to the image. With careful and restrained use of the HDR Toning Adjustment you can work both ends of the tonal range to carefully open up shadows to a more natural human vision state and bring brighter values up without driving them to pure and undetailed whites.



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 as 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.

iCal Calendar of Our Workshop Program

-View our Workshop Calendar.
-Subscribe to our Workshop Calendar.
-Learn more about iCal or to download a copy.

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 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:



Pt. Reyes National Seashore
May 15-17, 2010

This three-day workshop includes field instruction, critiques, and discussion of composition, digital camera characteristics and exposure. Individualized instruction is designed to accommodate beginning and advanced students. The weekend will mix walking and driving, exploring the trails, beaches and rural countryside of the park. We will visit the windblown Point Reyes headlands that juts miles out into the Pacific, offering ocean views found nowhere else. Time will also be spent in the forest, looking for form and design in the rich flora.

A beautiful coastal forest, isolated undeveloped beaches and views encompassing hundreds of square miles of land and sea will be the rewards of this weekend at Point Reyes. This dynamic landscape promises an intensive and interesting three days on northern California’s rugged coastline

sf pyramid

Black and White Digital Printing Hands-on
June 12-13, 2010

Black and white printing in the digital age with a classical landscape photographer who comes from the world of large-format black and white photography and years in the darkroom and has worked hard and early on for the development of high quality digital photography technology.

Explore the black and white possibilities of modern printers and their controls, linerarization, nuance of tonal and image tint, the glow of traditional looks and the subtlety of completely new ways of seeing black and white. 



From RAW to Print in One Week
Summer Digital Boot Camp
Studios of Stephen Johnson Photography, Pacifica, CA
July 12-16, 2010


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.



The Tuscan Landscape with Stephen Johnson
September 23-30, 2010

Spend a week in Italy with renowned landscape photographer/educator Stephen Johnson. Centered in a 12th Century Tuscan monastery, this photography workshop promises to be an extraordinary opportunity to explore the Tuscan landscape and learn from one of the most dynamic educators and talented photographers working today.

Workshop headquarters will be San Fedele, an ex-monastery dating back to the 12th century.  It is situated in the Chianti hills, 12 km north of Siena and 45 km south of Florence.  The nearest towns are the medieval city of Radda-in-Chianti and the village of Vagliagli. San Fedele was completely restored beginning in 2001 and today has 17 guest rooms and several classrooms and studios.

dusk mono lake
Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra
October 9-12, 2010

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 logo

Maine Media Workshops

The Digital Landscape. June 20-26, 2010

Explore Maine’s land and seascape with the power of the new tools for digital photography. Stephen Johnson Take digital imagemaking to new levels! The subjects of this course are the landscape, architecture, villages, and forests of the Maine coast. While in the field, students review selected images on camera lcds and discuss exposure, composition, lens selection, quality of light, and the limitations and advantages of digital imagemaking. The objective is to bring exciting and technically correct files into the digital lab.

 Fine Art Digital Printing. June 27-July 4, 2010

Learn the art of making fine art digital prints from one of today’s masters. Stephen Johnson Focusing exclusively on fine-art digital printing, Stephen explores the possibilities of printmaking using Epson inkjet printers. The concentration is 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 printing demonstrations in the digital lab. Stephen covers workflow issues, color management, correcting color casts, adjustment layers, custom profile generation, editing and inspection.

mmw logo

Acadia National Park 2009.Maine Media Workshops Landscape Class. Canon 1Ds Mark III.

mmw logo


Iceland: Mastery of Landscape
July 25-31, 2010

The wondrous and raw volcanic landscape, geothermal features and sheer remoteness are the settings for this Icelandic experience. Water and sea, weather and mountains, reflection and growth...come spend the week with us. We will work in the field and in the lab. We will interact with what has been done. We will look, ask much of our work and press on to make it as strong and sensitive as possible.

Perhaps a still erupting volcano will be part of the workshops as well. It will, if it is still going, and the last eruption lasted for years. Organized by Focus on Nature.

Iceland Workshop Gallery


Photograph by Evan Anderman. Iceland Volcano. 2010.


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 our studios and galleries.

At The Studio Gallery

Galleries open by appointment. 650 355-7507.



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 are being Donated to educational/charitable or government organizations. Send an email. All working when last used. Must pick up.

  • Epson 9000 (dye inks and Lyson grayscale set included)
  • Epson 9500
  • Epson 10000


Printers being replaced:

  • Epson 2200 $300
  • HP 5500 Color Laser $1500

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 video demonstrating how to prepare, measure, cut your matts, label 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 project, 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.

By appointment only.
$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 CS4 or Adobe Lightroom 2 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


Stephen Johnson Editions

  • 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 May 13, 2010 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2010, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.