Iguana, Galapagos, 2005. Betterlight Scanning Back. see Galapagos Photography Adventure below. Buy this print.


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

On the road again in October, to Mono Lake, New York for the PhotoPus show and some lectures, then on to Washington DC to see my daughter and go to the Restore Sanity Rally on the Capitol Mall. All in all, a very interesting month of sights an experiences.

This month's View From Here column discusses recent trips and the photography along the way.

The Tutorial this month is a short run through monitor calibration and viewing lights.

Mark your calendar for our Holiday Open House this year on December 11 from noon to 6pm. Our Friday night reception/opening December 10 from 7- to 10pm will be the opening for my exhibition Exquisite Earth in our Gallery One for a run through the rest of the year.

We also have a brand new 300 line screen printing of our National Park Notecard set and we are very happy to be able to offer them now.

The next workshop coming right up is our Pt. Lobos and Carmel next weekend November 13-15.

Our Black and White Digital Printing Hands-on class is December 4-5, 2010

We will be heading to Death Valley for our early 2011 Death Valley in Winter workshop January 12-18, 2011.

There is a scholarship available for the Pt. Lobos workshop. See below.

I hope some of you can join us yet this fall and winter for some of these offerings.

In an effort to communicate more regularly without additionally burdening anyone with email, we have started a Facebook fan page and a Twitter feed where we are making an effort to post a new photograph each week and a technique, tutorial or technical feed. Become a fan of Stephen Johnson Photography on Facebook and follow our Tweets on Twitter to broaden or touch up on your digital techniques and see newly posted photographs. You can subscribe to each with the links above to keep up to date with the latest from the studio.

We are also starting a Blog as another alternative that will feature the monthly essay, the new photographs, techniques and other things as they come to mind.

facebookfacebookfacebook facebook

dv class

Death Valley Workshop.

2010 Workshop and Event Calendar
Photography And The Environment: Education Night talk
Marin Photography Club November 9, 2010 6:30pm
Pt. Lobos and Carmel
November 13-15, 2010
Black and White Digital Printing Hands-on
December 4-5, 2010
Opening Reception for "Exquisite Earth" Exhibition and Holiday Open House
Friday December 10 from 7-10pm

ATX Los Angeles: Christmas Extravanganz and Annual Christmas Raffle
Stephen Johnson on Light Color and the Real World
December 18, 2010 9am to noon

The Burns Community Center. 5510 Clark Avenue, Lakewood, CA

2011 Workshops
Death Valley in Winter
January 15-18, 2011
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands on
February 5-8, 2011

Niagara Frontier Regional Camera Clubs 50th Anniversary Convention
Stephen Johnson Keynote
February 25-27, 2011. Niagara Falls
Conference Center in Niagara Falls, NY.

Yosemite in Winter
February 12-14, 2011


Thanks for an amazing experience during the recent RAW to Print workshop. Your course delivered considerably more than I had ever hoped for, and I learned a tremendous amount, as did all the students. Your professionalism and willingness to go the extra-mile for your students was most appreciated, your grasp of the subject matter mind-blowingly deep, the curriculum rich and well structured, and your personal standards very high. The lab is a fantastically complete environment that is very impressive. All in I cannot say enough about how impressed I was on a scale of 1 to 10, your Raw to Print class gets a 12.

-Russ Andersson. July 2010 RAW to Print class.

Additional Workshop Testimonials


Last chance to Register!
Pt. Lobos and Carmel next weekend November 13-15.


Scholarship To Upcoming Pt. Lobos Workshop

Opening Reception for "Exquisite Earth" Exhibition and Holiday Open House
Friday December 10 from 7-10pm

November 2010


Dawn, Death Valley. 2010.
Canon 1Ds III
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each Purchase this print.

This photograph of these layered dawn colors at Zabriski Point during last year's Death Valley workshop got a nice reaction last winter when I used it as a Newsletter Header photograph I wanted to bring it back as a Featured Print.

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.


Rattlesnake Gulch with Adam and Marsha on the Mnono Lake Workshop. 2010


On the road again and deeply involved in photography discussions, lectures, with sights and experiences difficult to translate into images.

The Mono Lake workshop went very well with good spirited students, some great clouds and amazing fall color. For the first time in many years we visited the LA water diversion intake (presently closed), then drove and walked to the mouth of Lee Vining Creek, getting a a good feel for the life's blood of the lake and the water diversions that almost destroyed it. This trip I did a full presentation on the "At Mono Lake" project and spent good time in the exhibit. Visiting the Forest Service gallery sparked some good discussions photographic processes, seeing and about making a difference with our photography.

The following week I was off to New York and Washington DC.


Over Lake Michigan. 2010

Flying cross country, I always try for a window seat. The parade of land, sky and mist is ceaselessly fascinating to me. So as with most trips, this one began with some very handsome views of the Sierra and Mono Lake as I headed east out of San Francisco. There were plays of color and light and the low hung sun in the west as we circled over Pennsylvania and Lake Ontario to slow our arrival at JFK.

PhotoPlus is a show I enjoy because it brings together so many of my friends that live dispersed throughout the country and gives us a chance to visit. Of course there is a bit of networking going on as well. This year I was treated to a nice dinner with my student Adam Elstein I just met from my Mono Lake workshop. Having just spent 4 days at the lake with Adam, it was a bit of a context switch to meet near his home in New York where he teaches Architectural Imaging at Pratt.


Bert Monroy. New york City, 2010

I was lucky to spend some time with my good friend Bert Monroy who was in town to unveil his 25 foot long Times Square digital painting in the Epson booth. As he had been working 16 hour days to get more characters in the work, he was particularly anxious for people to see the latest version of the piece. Epson had constructed a huge light box and printed the work on their new Display Transparency material and it was quite a remarkable presentation.

The show itself brought my usual nervousness over doing a good job on my talks, and I was pleased we ended up with standing room only on my "12 Step Program for Improving Your Digital Photographs." People rolled nicely with the 12 step program allusions and I was able to take questions and move through the program pretty well. The Canon booth talk the next day was harder as it is always a challenge to do a talk amid the distractions of a trade show floor flow of noise and traffic. I decided not to a talk about my career, but just roll a slide show of the Exquisite Earth set I put together last year and talk about photography off the top of my head. I think it worked pretty well.

"Steve's talk at the PhotoPlus Canon booth expressed his passion for capturing the poetry and subtleties of nature's beauty. The image presentation displayed at the talk showed the importance composition and point of view plays in his photographs. I really liked the part of the talk when he discussed that not all pictures have to have either white or black in them to make a compelling image. Steve urged his listeners to keep an open mind to exploring the unexpected and not to revert to formula. Of course, I also enjoyed being able to show the crowd my lens cap with Steve's Gray Cap attached to it for white balancing. Shameless advertising of his products was worth the price of admission! Steve is an inspiring artist and teacher."

-Peter Roos

"It was incredibly inspiring to hear someone talk with such passion about photography.  Stephen's comments on wanderlust and getting lost to go make pictures particularly resonated with me"

-Claire Rosen.
check out her new Taxidermy Project


Reception View, 2010. iphone stitched with AutoStitch, contrast controlled with imphoto.

The show always has company parties and this year's Adobe party was in the Trump Soho Tower, an apparently very controversial tall building amid the lower profile of Soho charm. The top floor is all windows to the east, south and west, providing a wonderful view of lower Manhattan. In this case, we arrived just before sunset and many of us immediately regretted leaving the cameras back in hotel rooms. The view was extraordinary. So I struggled, as did a few others, with our pocket cameras, in my case my iphone and caught at least a memory jog of the view. A new pocket camera must be in order...

...continued top of right column


Aerial Expanse. 2010

On Friday afternoon I went on down to Washington DC on a long planned trip to see my daughter who is studying there for the semester. The trip had transformed though with the added experience at hand of the Comedy Central "Restore Sanity Rally" on the Capitol Mall where me and 250,000 or so fellow Americans gathered for the afternoon.

The rally was amazing in its sheer human numbers, the mass of crowd, the pressed-flesh density that became almost overwhelmingly claustrophobic, but strangely involoved in a gesture of something greater. There was a real sense of shared values that we really are all in this together, as Americans, as humans on this shared and fragile planet. I saw no signs of hate, some absurdity, much poking of fun and some very moving heart-felt pleas for tolerance, understanding and dialog.


Girl and Sign. Washington DC, 2010


Man with Corporate Flag. Washington DC, 2010


Man with Tax Sign. Washington DC, 2010

My photographs of the rally were ok at best, unable to resist the signs, not having arranged for a press pass for access to elevated view of the mass of people. But it was rewarding to look back through the work and be reminded of the tone and sprit of the day. With no perspective as yet, its hard for me to know how much of that comes through in the photographs.


Sanity Rally Dispersing with Washington Monument. Washington DC, 2010

I read a number of accounts of the rally, some with surprisingly diminutive crowd estimates. Robert Parry's Taking a Stand for Sanity rang true to my experience of being there.

Flying home on Sunday afternoon I was pondering the sights and experiences of the previous few days and was once again reminded of all that photography has given me, a community of precious friends, exposure to a breathtaking variety of experiences on the planet and a way of sharing those experiences. I am grateful.


Monitor Calibration and Viewing Lights

Hardware calibration of your monitor is an absolutely essential step in asserting control over your digital photography. Unless you are calibrating your monitor, the very portal through which you are viewing your files is out of control, therefore showing you unknown and probably unreliable information.

Monitor calibration is usually a two to three step process, folded into what appears to be a single stream by most software. The first is to try to get the monitor into the state you desire, then create a look-up table (LUT) to modify the display characteristics into your desired appearance, with the final step being to profile that new state. In most packages, the process goes something like this:

  1. Plug-in your sensor (colorimeter or spectrophotometer) and launch your calibration software.
  2. The software might then ask you to do a dark calibration on the sensor to measure it's signal with no light striking it.
  3. You then have to select a white point, I generally have chosen 6500 kelvin (D65) as a good even if slightly cool match to most daylight. A gamma curve number is usually then needed, with 2.2 having become the standard.
  4. A monitor with RGB Gain control can then allow you to custom tune the behavior of your display to as near 6500k as possible. without such gain control, you have to live with whatever starting point you have. A DDC enabled monitor should automatically adjust to your selected white point through the calibration software using a USB connection controlling the monitor.
  5. The software will display and measure a series of neutrals and colors to figure out its current condition. It will then create a custom LUT to skew it further into your desired state.
  6. The software should then measure another series of patches on the screen to profile this new state of your monitor and give you the opportunity to custom name the profile. It should save the profile into your profiles folder and set your monitor to use that profile. Display control panels on your computer can be used to double check that this has been done.
  7. Many packages have profile verification procedures which also should be used.

Calibration Software/Hardware Packages are available from many sources. The two I commonly use are:

Basic Monitor Recommendations

  • Capable of at least real display of the Adobe RGB Color Space
  • DDC Enabled monitors are available from NEC and Eizo.

Print Inspection

When inspecting your prints, you should view them next to your monitor's display of the file, illumined by lights that match the white point of the way you calibrated the monitor. If as I do, you selected 6500k as your monitor white point, then you should purchase 6500k viewing lights to inspect your prints.

These lights could take the form of a special viewing booth like those available from GTI, special lamps like those from Solux, or normal desk lamps with specific color temperature compact fluorescent bulbs. I've picked up some ok quality bulbs from ordinary stores like Costco and Walgreens. The lamps must say 6500k (or whatever white point you are using), not just some generic term like daylight. Westcott Lighting sells more spectrally accurate 5500k bulbs for a slightly warmer rendition.

viewing light

Eizo Online tutorials


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

In order to make workshops available to people who cannot afford them and to support students studying photography, we have started a photography workshop scholarship program. We will try to reserve a spot in every class we can, particularly field workshops.

Scholarships are available to full-time college students enrolled in a photography program. Let people know who you think might be interested. Applications must be for a particular workshop.

To apply, please download the application form and send it to us by mail or email


Pt. Lobos and Carmel: A Digital Photography Field Workshop
November 13-15, 2010

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

sf pyramid
Black and White Digital Printing Hands-on
December 4-5, 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.



death valley

Death Valley in Winter
January 15-18, 2011

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

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



Photography And The Environment: Education Night talk
Marin Photography Club November 9, 2010 6:30pm

Marin Power Squadron Building, Hamilton Field, Novato, CA


ATX Los Angeles: Christmas Extravanganz and Annual Christmas Raffle
Stephen Johnson on Light Color and the Real World

Saturday December 18, 2010 9am to noon
The Burns Community Center
5510 Clark Avenue, Lakewood, CA 90712


Niagara Frontier Regional Camera Clubs 50th Anniversary Convention

NFRCC is an International Organization of 11 camera clubs in Western New York, Northern
Pennsylvania and Southern Ontario.

Stephen Johnson Keynote

February 25-27, 2011. Niagara Falls
Conference Center in Niagara Falls, NY.

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

Mark your calander for our Holiday Open House this year on December 11 from noon to 6pmpm. Our Friday night celebration December 10 from 7- to 10pm will be the opening for my exhibition Exquisite Earth in our Gallery One for a run through the rest of the year.

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

f #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


gray acr

National Park Color Notecard Set
Stephen Johnson
12 cards/envelopes $20 set

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




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 November 8, 2010 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2010, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.