Where the San Andreas Fault Goes Out to Sea. 2011. See our next field workshop: Mono Lake Workshop October 8-11, 2011
Welcome to the October 2011 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
Just now completing my Exquisite Earth Portfolio 1 and deeply enjoying the process of making something that feels so beautiful and special.
This month's Newsletter covers a wide variety of topics, from The View From Here column for October which reflects on photography as heart process to the making of Steve's new portfolio. Our Tutorial this month is a video discussing exposure, and histograms in the field.
October brings both workshops at the studio and in the field!
Later this month you can show your own work and receive feedback during our October 20 Critique Session on the 20th from 7 to 10pm.
Our one-day Camera Mechanics seminar is on November 5th, a perfect one day session to learn about the workings your digital camera, breaking down the components of exposure, focus, depth of field, encoding balanced color, controlling RAW previews, and lens characteristics.
One of our most popular workshops is the Death Valley in Winter Workshop which starts the new year running January 7-10, 2012 on a full moon. Four days of exploring this remarkable national park with great photographic instruction and field work. Death Valley is a place you must go, so why not now?
Our next Fine Art Printing Hands-on class is January 21-24, 2012 for which we are currently offering a pre-enrollment 10% discount.
As part of our ongoing commitment to photographic education, there is one student scholarship spot in each of these classes. Please pass the word along.
Don't miss the international trips we have coming up to the Galapagos and Iceland.
Our return to the awesome Galapagos archipelago will be a high point of 2012 with the wondrous Galapagos Photography Expedition March 23-April 2, 2012. We have a November 15 deadline on this one to hold the boat, so don't wait, jump in now!
In August of 2012 we will journey back to the land of fire and ice for a 10 day Photographic Expedition to Iceland. The Exquisite Earth show we have at the gallery has some very abstract landscape photographs from Iceland and we are excited to announce that we will be going back!
Our busy schedules and limited budgets often keep us from destination workshops or classes, but many of you still have questions you need answered, or need 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.
We hope you can come by the gallery and see the Exquisite Earth exhibition, its accompanying very special Exquisite Earth Portfolio 1, 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.
Confused Construction. Pacifica, CA. 2011
hard to know which way to turn these days....
FEATURED PRINT October 2011
Lake Michigan stretching out under a dramatic sky from the huge lakeshore dunes of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.
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Sun Setting into Pacific with Green Flash. 2011.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
I love my work. The careful crafting of an image, from out in the world on the edge of experience, to the methodical but empowering printing of a finely crafted print. I love my work.
The satisfaction is partially tied up in the act of creation itself. In photography, where there was the passage of time and light, ephemeral and fleeting, we create an impression of a moment fixed, rendered by light, captured as photons to electrons, and held as electrical charges. Complex without a doubt, but the sheer elegance of holding the light of a moment remains.
I'm working these last few weeks on finishing the first set of portfolios from my Exquisite Earth series. With every new image explored, honing down the magic ten photographs for this first abstract set of recent work, there is something mind clearing in the resolve to select carefully, print with dedication and be satisfied with nothing less than reaching further than I thought possible.
Being Out There
Being out there in the real world, the natural world, is what working as a photographer is fundamentally about for me. Being in a state of mind where a flowing river is a miraculous entity, almost organism, seeming to flow endlessly and keep building. Being in a state of mind where every time you see the sun set into the ocean it is a wonder of celestial mechanics, weird refraction, and mind blowing scale and distance. Much less seeing a green flash. I never want to cease to being fascinated by the time machine that a starry night simply is. Photography out in the natural world is about all of this for me.
The excitement of seeing my photographs as they offload, starting to examine my witness, enduring disappointments, but being amazed at those extraordinary few, that is the high of the post photographic experience for me.
Image processing, although critical is less exciting. It is where a scene held can be made really seen, understood, and balanced where needed. It is where tonal vision and memory can collide, idealized vision often stomp on magic, and where magic itself can be revealed.
For me image processing is a direct connection back to the scene. It is a processes of analyzing what can I do to decode and make visible what I saw with my eyes. The witnessed scene is the cherished starting point and for me the wonder of photography. After all, you have to appreciate the view for what it is, to want to render it for what is was. I find magic in that appreciation and rendering.
The Sacred Print
Laying the image onto paper can sometimes seem almost like a religious experience. Although imbued with somewhat less esoterica than a darkroom, the methodology of color management and print drivers hold no romance for me. But the subdued lighting of my print space, having the proper tools and paper, knowing the process from so many angles, I feel like I'm tracking solid ground, where I know how to make beauty, and hold it with grace and subtlety. I feel at home in such a place. Deeply at home.
My studio lab is such a physical place for me. And I believe it has been for scores of printing students over the last six years. It ia a place of refuge and craft, learning and aspirations fulfilled.
Of course, printing can't help but be frustrating too, and so as to not paint too rosy or romantic of a picture, it is also a place where challenged knowledge and aspiration can meet head-on––where sorting out understanding, technical glitches and evolving senses of problems and possibilities have to be resolved. And that is good.
An Arts and Education Economy in Decline
Workshop enrollments are down for so many people and organizations I talk to. They tell similar stories of running small classes or cancellations. Print sales have collapsed for many. Many are giving up on the arts as careers. Many are trying to find any work they can as the challenges of this long recession mount.
I have no great insights here in this Autumn of 2011 and we are not an exception to those challenges. Of course, as self-employed artists we can't lay ourselves off, as has happened to so many. I know I have to stay true to why I started down this path, this vision of life, art and work all bound together, be willing to work even harder and keep restructuring diversified income streams in this shattered economy. We have basically adopted an internal "no cancellation" policy on workshops, even if it means running some smaller classes.
We are all in this together in the arts. We need to be imaginative, share resources, be very open to helping one and other, and stay focused on the rich lives we are able to live with art in our hearts.
It might be a good time to re-read Ted Orland and David Bayles Art and Fear.
I remain in love with my work.
If you've been thinking about a workshop, an original print or portfolio, give us a call. The gift of a workshop or the treasure of a beautiful print can be a great idea for the holidays coming up. We'll be doing gift card discounts, a holiday Open House, and perhaps even a new exhibition before the end of the year.
NEW PRODUCT: Mono Lake Folio
We are bundling a vintage copy of the original paperback edition of the At Mono Lake exhibition catalog from 1983 with a new illustrated and expanded copy of my Masters Thesis documenting the creation of the exhibition together with an original 8x10 print that I consider pivotal in my aesthetic evolution, Dusk, Mono Lake 1979.
This set will come bundled in a folio and is available for purchase now at $250. Email to order or call 650 355-7507.
Revised and Updated version of "Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography"
Exquisite Earth Portfolio 1 Selections
The Making of a Portfolio: Exquisite Earth 1
The assembly of a body of work is an interesting and challenging process. Envisioning, selecting, editing, printing, all are steps down a path to a public stepping out from the shadows of our internal space to a fixed statement of vision, accomplishment and beauty.
The exhibition I put together late last year, Exquisite Earth, will continue its run in our Gallery One through 2011. We hope you can see it in person. As we finish the first portfolio from the work, it seemed a good time to reflect on some of the processes.
Curating the Exhibition
I had been considering gathering recent work together for some time, even writing about it in the spring of 2010. As we decided to go forward with a December 2010 opening, the largest initial task was selecting what would be included. I decided fairly early on that this first step out the door with this recent work would be exclusively 35mm dSLR work, a huge break from the large-format work I was known for. This was healthy for me to shift such major parameters and reflective of so much of the work I was doing.
With that decision the curatorial process got narrowed somewhat, but of course by the very nature of 35mm photography, there was more of that material than any other. As one of Canon's Explorer's of Light with an annual obligation to provide some images to Canon, there were already many images that I had singled out, as well as photographs I had produced for this Newsletter and elsewhere. These became the first groupings the work was drawn from.
As I was devoting an entire gallery to the installation, I decided to strip the walls of photographs, lay out the existing prints and start to see what kind of flow, subjects and color seemed to work together. What fit together was based on intuition, a growing sense of visual harmony and thematic flow. I had some early on favorites, and some influenced the character of the show, others were just outliers and didn't fit with the growing selections but might work later in other sets of work drawn from this period.
At the same time as I was selecting photographs, I began sequencing them in the gallery as well. This was a wonderful and unusual opportunity to curate a body of work based on all of the criteria the installation would be subject to, the photographs, their sequence, their size, and ultimately multi-image salon-style groupings as well, something I did not initially even consider.
Some real favorites didn't seem to fit, causing more re-searching. Finding more photographs that might work was an interesting process. Over a few days, I started to develop a feel for the visual rhythm of the emerging show. Faint memories of experiences, and occasionally specific images were tracked down and examined, and where promising, edited and printed for the first time. I began to develop a resistance to Iceland and Antarctica photographs as I kept coming back to them. At one point it seemed the show was getting cold and blue. I kept reshifting the selections.
Over a few weeks, and with much help from my staff and friends, the show slowly began to emerge from that process. An Opening was held on December 10, 2010, was well attended and documented. I was proud of what we had done with the exhibition, and of course proud of the work itself.
The first of the Limited Edition Portfolios were sold, even with some ambiguity as to exactly which photographs would be included.
A Portfolio Theme
Balance of Color
With so much work from Antarctica, and in some cases, from Iceland, I kept having to battle back a sense of being overwhelmed by ice and blue. I found myself trying to create a balance of cool and warm, moving through some neutrals on the way.
I decided an additional touch of a small book drawn from the collection could also be part of the package and as I write this I am designing that component to add to the portfolio.
The escalating pricing is obviously designed to stimulate early sales and underscores the rarity of the collection.
Check Exposure and Composition
We have a number of international workshops coming up in the next 12 months! For basic information please see below. The links attached will have all details and ways to register.
This is my third return to this famous and wondrous group of islands on the equator off South America. This volcanic chain is unlike any other place I've been and really is a must see in a life of exploring the earth. We are very lucky to have the chance to put together a dedicated photo trip on a small boat with only 12 people, extensive time on the islands and working through the images on the boat during island transit and evenings. We have a mid-November deadline to get at least 6 students to hold the boat.
Iceland: August 21-September 2, 2012
I am enthralled with Iceland. It is one of the most beautiful places I've been and I feel a deep pull to continue to explore and share this place. This is a new trip customized for my photographic interests and curiosities, dedicated to a wonderful and deep photographic experience. email for preliminary info
National Park Color Notecard Set
From "With a New Eye" Beautiful 300 line screen offset reproductions with envelopes in clear box. A perfect Christmas gift.
PLEASE VISIT US!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Pacifica Center for the Arts from Linda Mar Boulevard
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Stephen Johnson Photography at the Pacifica Center for the Arts
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