Last Light, Ellery Lake near Yosemite. 2009.


To sum up in one word: Superb! Going out with Stephen to photograph extraordinary sites at dawn and dusk made me rethink what and how I photograph… Stephen is a great teacher... continually attentive to student needs, always ready with suggestions for improvement, he is quite a presence. A week after the workshop my head was still spinning with ideas. I am deeply grateful to Stephen and my fellow participants for having made this trip so memorable.
-Andrew Stern

yosemite oaks

Dawn Monument Valley. 2009.
Southwest Journey Workshop



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

I hope you find things of interest in this month's newsletter. It has certainly been a full month, so there are things to talk about and images to share.

We've also posted a number of new workshops for winter and spring, including a new Photographers and Photoshop Series starting January 16.

Coming right up is our next field workshop this fall which will take us to one of the most special places on the west coast of America, Pt. Lobos. The Pt. Lobos and Carmel workshop starts November 15 and includes a visit to the studio of longtime Carmel photographer Al Weber and to Carmel Galleries.

Our most popular workshop, the Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on Workshop will take place from December 10-13.

A full moon will add to our experience this year in the Death Valley in Winter workshop, scheduled for January 28-31, 2010.

Added to the schedule are a Yosemite in Winter workshop, A Highway One San Francisco South class, and a rare 3 days at Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin County. I hope some of you can join us this winter and spring for some of these offerings.

Our monthly Critique Sessions continue on Thursday November 19 at 7pm at our Pacifica Studios.

As we announced earlier, we are donating some older printers to non-profits, educational institutions or government agencies. Although some are gone, some big printers remain. See below for information..

Workshop Referral credits are now available, giving you 10% off the next workshop you take for every enrollee you send to us. Please let people know about our Internship and Workshop Scholarship program, a great opportunity for young photographers.


Workshop Testimonials


Pt. Lobos and Carmel. Last chance to Register!

Critique Session Thursday Evening November 19, 209 7pm

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.

New DVD: Matting and Framing

November 2009


Snowbank, Ellery Lake near Yosemite. 2009.
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each

On our Mono Lake workshop, Tioga Pass over Yosemite reopened after a snowfall closure, we bolted for 10,000 feet, and this was waiting for us. What a scene!

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


Sunrise, Mono Lake. 2009.

Some Thoughts and Techniques

Crazy on the road times again. Two workshops in Mono Lake, PhotoPlus in New York City, then back on the beach in Pacifica. I almost feel as though I'm chasing the poor economy away in airplanes. I'm off to the University of Kentucky next week and Iowa after that.

I continue to photograph from airplane window seats, as I have for decades, and continued to be amazed by the view. It's always good to remember to wear a dark neutral shirt to minimize window reflections, a soft cloth for polishing the window plex and get seats well in front of the wings. I try to figure out likely flight paths, scenery potential and sun position when choosing which side of the airplane for my window seat. I also try to keep my camera near the center of the window to minimize curvature distortion.

I've also found that blending multiple-exposures for panoramics can work quite well. The image below was made from 2 exposures.


Sierra Nevada Looking South from Mammoth to the San Joaquin Valley Under Clouds. 30,000 feet. 2009.


Depth of Field Expansion

On my Mono Lake workshops last week there were many instances where challenges created great opportunities for teaching demos. One such situation occurred staring through the old General Store window in the ghost town of Bodie.

This particular image was assembled from 3 different focus points photographs, all made with a tripod, then opened into Layers via Adobe Bridge into Photoshop, all Layers selected, then Auto-Aligned, and Auto-Blended. Lightroom also works to hand off the images to Photoshop. The results are not perfect, but very impressive.


Depth of Field Expansion Step by Step

  • Open images to be blended into Layers via Adobe Bridge/Photoshop Tools into Photoshop
  • Select all Layers
  • Auto-Align
  • Auto-Blend

zion stream

Trail and Moon at Dusk. Pacifica. 2009

The needs of children and pets often ground us, forcing simple and essential things into our lives. Although my children are now grown, the family dog remains a companion and in need of care.

Evenings often find me walking my dog along some of my favorite cliffs above the Pacific. These simple walks have become journeys of light and form, amazing in the diversity of scenes possible in a single location. My Golden Retriever Sandy likes the place too.


The At Mono Lake Exhibition

In 1979, with the help of Al Weber, Don Worth and many others, I organized a fine arts exhibition called At Mono Lake. It was designed to gather photographic work to make clear the scenic wonder of the lake and its environment. It toured the country in the early 1980s and was seen by over 4 million people. In lobbying for the creation of the Mono Basin National Scenic Area in the US Senate in 1984, we created a permanent home for the exhibition in the Visitor's Center to be built as authorized under the legislation.

Steve Johnson. US Senate. 1984.

While conducting our workshop at Mono Lake, we reviewed the state of the At Mono Lake exhibition at the US Forest Service Visitor's Center, including plans for the exhibition's future and ways of supporting that future. When the exhibition was put together in 1980, we never envisioned it having a permanent home, nor that it would need to last for decades. It is in need of renovation.

The gallery is only large enough to show part of the exhibition, so our agreement with the Forest Service is to rotate the prints every few months so that the whole show can be seen over time. Budget limitations have made this difficult.

We are seriously considering reprinting the catalog from the exhibition, perhaps even expanding it to the entire show. The catalog sold out within months of publication in 1983, only the Limited-Edition Hardbound version remains available.

We are also likely to produce some posters from the project as well. All of these efforts are designed to raise funds to support the continuing needs of the exhibition and to help inspire others to use photography to portray endangered lands and help protect them.


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 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. Lobos and Carmel: A Digital Photography Field Workshop
November 14-16, 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 lobospt lobos map

pt lobos

Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
December 10-13, 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.



Photographers & Photoshop Series
Selections, Adjustment Layers, Tone and Color

January 16-17, 2010

This workshop births a new series concentrating on the tools within Photoshop critical to Photographers. It is a great chance to explore digital photographic editing with Steve. Hands-on help and demonstrations of his use of editing tools with restraint and finesse will benefit all of your digital photography work. This class is designed to break down the steps to really understand the processes, and to work through difficult images..

death valley

Death Valley in Winter
January 28-31, 2010

Transformed from a searing 120 degree desert in summer to January's mild 60-70 degree weather, Death Valley is filled with intriguing landforms, delicate flora, strange mineral deposits and expansive views. Mile high Dante's View overlooks the patterned salt flats of Badwater and the Amargosa River below (the lowest point in the United States). Badwater's still water in turn mirrors the blue and white Panamint Mountains to the West. The lunar landscape of Ubehebe Crater's black volcanic fields rise from the rolling desert at the valley's north end with the steep gorge of Titus Canyon and Red Pass to the southeast



Yosemite in Winter
February 13-15, 2010


Winter in Yosemite Valley is a transformed world. Trees are wet and dark, the oaks are bare. The cliffs are blanketed with snow. Weather moves through in waves of clouds and mist. Ponds and river edges are frozen. There is usually snow on the valley floor. Visitors are dramatically fewer in number.

Our four days together will likely be cold, but we will no doubt be warmed by the special beauty that winter brings to this grand valley. Although we will drive to basic locations, I hope our basic mode of transportation through the valley will be our feet. There is really no other way to come to know a place.





Highway One and the San Mateo Coast
March 13-14, 2010

Optional extra day at Pt. Lobos March 17

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.


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.

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


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

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
University of Kentucky. Lexington.
Wednesday evening November 4, 2009

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
Hawkeye College, Waterloo, Iowa
Thursday evening November 5, 2009


Photography's Brilliant Future. Stephen Johnson.

6Sight Future of Imaging Conference Monterey
Monterey Conference Center

November 12. 2009. 9am

The New Photograph: Stephen Johnson

Society for Photographic Education, Western Regional Conference
Oakhurst, CA
Saturday December 5, 2009, 10am


Printing Industries of America Color Management Conference
Scottsdale, Arizona
Photography Session with Stephen Johnson
Real World RAW from Large Format to Digital SLRs
Monday, December 7, 2009. 10:00-11:30 am


At The Studio Gallery

Critique: Thursday Evening November 19, 2009. 7pm

Galleries open by appointment. 650 355-7507.

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.



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


  • 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 November 29, 2009 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2009, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.