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Dawn. Valley Floor and Shadows. Death Valley. 2018. Canon EOS 5DSr.  Click to purchase a print. Upcoming Workshop Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. December 1-3, 2018.


Welcome to the October 2018 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

For many reasons, looking back has occupied much of the past month. So the newsletter naturally looks back to recent work, but then stumbles into older photographs where some nice discoveries were made and good memories rekindled.


This month's View From Here column features musings over photographs from the last year or so with a few instructional pieces. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.


  • Life Form Exhibition on display at Stephen Johnson Photography
  • 2018 Workshop Schedule is building with these and other great courses coming up. See what a great experience students have had on Steve's Workshops by exploring Workshop Testimonials.

    Critique Session. November 8, 2018. 7-9pm. Feedback on our work has proven critical to many of us involved in the arts. In this emerging age of digital photography, it is hard to find people knowledgeable in the technology and with a background and experience in the fine arts. Steve will go through your photographs, talk with you about what he thinks works, and aspects that could be improved. Composition, original execution, editing and printing will all be discussed. You can explore your concerns and aspirations for the work and you will get honest feedback and encouragement on how to make the images stronger.

    Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. December 1-3, 2018.  Ansel Adams called Point 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.

    Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. December 8-11, 2018. Focusing exclusively on fine-art digital printing, Stephen explores the possibilities of printmaking using Epson inkjet printers. Concentrating on printing with color pigments and black/gray ink combinations on coated and cotton papers, students learn from the digital pioneer how he obtains his impressive results. Stephen covers workflow issues, color management, correcting color casts, adjustment layers, custom profile generation, editing, and inspection, as well as paper visual qualities and the challenges and advantages of printing.

    Death Valley in Winter. January 12-15, 2019 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 Valley in Winter February 2-4, 2019



Fine Art Printing Workshop July 2018.

Scholarships and Mentoring

As part of our ongoing commitment to photographic education, there is one student scholarship spot in many of our classes. Please pass the word along.

For discounted time studying with Steve, keep in mind our Mentoring Program.

With all of our busy schedules and limited budgets, destination workshops or classes become a challenge, but many of you still have questions you need answered, or feedback on some new work. We want to remind you of our Virtual Online Consulting Program. This service allows all of you out there around the globe to consult online live with Steve on technical, aesthetic and workflow issues using Skype and your webcam.

Our Essays and Tutorials from the past couple of years can now be found on our Newsletter Archive and some on Google Blogger.

We hope you can come by the gallery and see the original prints in the new Life Form Gallery, and the Exquisite Earth exhibition with its accompanying very special Exquisite Earth Portfolio 1. We invite you to join us on a workshop, rent lab space, or just say hello and let us know what you are up to photographically and what you might like to see us offer. We value your input.


Workshop Testimonials


Wave and Clouds, CA. 2005.
Kodak DCS Pro 14N.

Wave and Clouds. 2005.

9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each.

I was a little surprised to see how long ago this photograph was made and with which camera. Photographs sometime stay with you in the back of your mind, then when they pop up a nice print often begs to be made. In this case, a 14 inch print, then a 20 inch print were made before I looked up the date and camera. The 14 mp Kodak Pro14n held up quite well. I was impressed.

Note: In 2005, I was still allowing the native camera file names (in this case C9SP0029, which is repeated from other times) to be used in my archives. Since 2007, I would have named the photograph… 


…using the date, place name and sequence of photographs made at Pebble Beach that day. An ongoing question I now have to answer, is to whether to go into the archives and rename files with this more useful protocol given that the original file names have been used in various ways since then.

Tutorial on Photo Downloading.


Workshop Schedule

Critique Session. November 8, 2018. 7-9pm
Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. December 1-3, 2018.
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on December 8-11, 2018
Death Valley in Winter. January 12-15, 2019
Yosemite Valley in Winter February 2-4, 2019


Linda Mar Bay, just down the road from Stephen Johnson Photography.


Speaking and Exhibition Events


Continuing Installation. Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA January 2017 onward. Make Software Exhibit

July through December 2018. Life Form. Stephen Johnson Photography. Pacifica, CA
Fine Art Digital Printing Lecture. PhotoPlus 2018. New York City. October 27, 2018
Photo Lecture Richmond, VA. November 1, 2018

Marin Photo Club. May 13, 2018. 6pm

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NEW Photograph



Eroded Sandstone and Granite. Pebble Beach, Bean Hollow State Reserve. CA 2012.
Phase One P65+ on Hasselblad

Pebble Beach and Pt. Lobos are home to some of the most evocative and sensuous rock formations I've seen. In soft light, the sensuality is even more profound. This one popped out as I was looking through the archives.








Brush and Purple Flowers. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr.


by Stephen Johnson

In the Studio, Not on the Road

Every year when Canon's EOL Contract renewal comes around, Canon asks us to submit photographs for them to consider including in their marketing efforts. This always prompts me to look back since the last request to see what I've been up to. Days naturally have a way of filling up the mind with the recent, and I am sometimes surprised by the last year or so of images.



Dolphin in Sunset Reflection. Pacifica, CA. 2017
Canon 5Dsr

As I explore, occasionally I find the spectacular. The more I wander, the more I see. But much more often I see a far more subtle world, where slowing down and bringing craft to what I see produces a far quieter view of this earth. I like that idea, and the portrait of the earth that emerges.

Where my work might fit into the pantheon of "significant" photographs has to be ignored when I photograph. I need to be present where I am, not bringing other aspirations. Not that I am fully present anywhere or anytime, my mind is always churning. But the best of what I do is when I am to concentrate on the scene before me, feeling the seduction of its beauty.

The act of trying to craft a photograph is certainly about light, but it is also about design, sensitivity to seeing, listening, tasting the air and feeling the breeze. It is about caring about the life in view and the earth giving that life. At its best, the act of photographing is an act of passion.

Mostly without drama, my most precious photographic experiences are about the slow walk on the earth, my heart taking in the quiet wonder, hearing my breathing, sometimes my heartbeat, feeling so deeply grateful to be on this blue oasis of water and life.

I photograph to dwell in that rush of emotions. And for so many other reasons––the sheer pleasure of seeing.



Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017
Canon 5DSr.


The magnificence of twisted tree, the grace of another's branched arms, the velvet of the spongy moss. All of these qualities move me. Make me love.

Seeing a black and white or color image is very different. Why does a black and white photograph seem more formal to me? It may seem more studied, and sometimes is. Stripped of casual color, we do seem to be saying, "here, look, the form and design matter." I suppose that is why I have always loved both color and black and white, one a direct celebration of natural form, the other more an act of silver design and abstraction.



Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017
Canon 5DSr.


The grace of a morning walk just after a rain, an unknown woods, early low light, solitude, quiet––as photographers, we relish these experiences. Our cameras might be the excuse, nudging us on, but engaging in the world is the real motivation and the real reward. I feel good about being alive most profoundly when immersed in the natural world.

A quiet natural scene might only occasionally rise to the profound, but the experiences are often profound, imbuing my life with a sense of the sacred. I seek these experiences, and hope to create photographs along the way that reach to share those appreciations.



Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr.



Cascade of Drying Leaves. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr.



Tree, Moss and Ferns. Bloedel Reserve. Bainbridge Island, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr.


The life I get to see along the way continues to delight and overwhelm me with its complexity and integrity. This glorious world of flora that literally helps give us life often dominates my work. My subject matter is mostly flora and geology with the blessed light from the sun. The recent Life Form work has obviously been inspired by such fasciations.

Occasionally I get to witness animals with an intimacy I also crave. I've often said that wildlife photography is hard, requiring patience, skill and luck. I don't generally think of myself as being very good at it. Occasionally luck triumphs and I even get time to call on study rather than rapid-shutter response. Mostly it is quick reaction.



Granite Spiny Lizard on Palm. Andreas Canyon. Palm Springs, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Whales, birds, coyotes, and my precious friend Sandy have all been animal subjects of my photographs. Our animal friends we call our pets may be the easiest of all to portray. But the love we feel for them is hard for the photograph to rise to, particularly for people who don't already love our particular beloved pet. Even the word pet has longed seemed peculiar to me, my dog was not mine at all, she was in my care but completely belonged to herself. Sandy on one of our countless walks along the beaches and cliffs is one of the most my precious photographs.



Sandy at Mussel Rock. Pacifica, CA. 2014.
Canon Canon EOS 5D Mark III.

In going back looking for pictures of my great friend Sandy in the weeks after her passing away, I found so much work that seems worth exploring having nothing to do with my search. The agenda of the moment, time pressures and some myopia cause so much work to be unexamined. It is both a shame and a treasure.

...continued top of right column of the essay


Don't forget to Check out our next workshops

Next Studio Workshop

Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. December 8-11, 2018


Next Field Workshop

Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur.
December 1-3, 2018.





Artist's Palette. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

I react to what I see. We all do. I've always tried to embrace the breadth of what I see, not be bound by style or current projects. I pop into a mode of current work easily, but I am often most satisfied by the unexpected out of character. Sometimes those photographs take more time to appreciate, are even often missed initially.


redwood and ferns

California State Capitol Rotunda. Sacramento. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Recording human-made form is part of what I've always been fascinated by.



Bombay Beach. Salton Sea. 2018.Canon EOS 5DSr.


Intentional art is part of what I seek to see, but often I see scenes that become art and comment for what they now seem. Architectural photography has always drown me in for its design and potential abstraction. Seeing the things we build as metaphor for our attempts to create order has long been of interest.

My project on Western Artifacts has many views of constructions we make for one reason, but become something else over time.



Truck Stop Sign, Winnemucca, Nevada. 1982.
Kodak Vericolor 4x5 color negative.



Light and Clouds over Pacific. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


As I've often said, living near the sea feels sacred. If it were only for the beautiful light, it would be precious. Although the photographs are often reductive of the magic, I cannot, and should not resist trying to hold the wonderful interplay of light and sea that I get to witness.



Sunspots on Sea, Pacifica CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Photographs of our loved ones is part of what has driven photography from the beginning. I think it is a fundamental part of why we all still love the medium as we do. Selfies are happening at the end of a iPhone pole all of the time. Taking the time to photgraph a nice moment in a beautiful setting remains very important to me, and I would guess, to most of us.



Fiona on the Trail. Pedro Point Headlands. Pacifica, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Desert is so often seen as harsh, a place of heat and challenge. Of course, the heat is seasonal, and there seems to me to be little challenge at all to be seduced by it's beauty.

In landscape photography, the photograph can easily pale compared to the real experience. So we study, we slow down, we consider what we see. We look for metaphor and visual summations of the scene around us. We look to distill, to abstract, to find a frame defined scene that transports some essential visual quality into the camera's memory––to stimulate our memories, our sense of connection and belonging. We photograph to witness. We photograph to belong. To quote my friend Pedro Meyer, I photograph to remember.*

*Pedro Meyer titled his 2001 work, "I Photograph to Remember."



Agave Bloom. Joshua Tree National Park. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

CAS website

Cholla. Joshua Tree National Park. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Deeply loving the desert is part of the drive to offer the Death Valley in Winter workshop most years. I love inculcating an appreciation of desert in my participants. I love their delight in discovering a whole new world of possibility.



At Stephen Johnson Photography

New Panoramics

In the search for photographs of Sandy I explored the 2006 Archive. This was the year I printed "Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography" in Italy and celebrated the completion of the HP Z Series Design-jet self-profiling printer I had been working on in Barcelona. Being such a busy time, I made many photographs that jut simply got filed away and not relly looked at.

Once open, I couldn't resist looking through some of the Venice folders and came across a few panoramic work-ups that had never been stitched together. Since Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom can now stitch raw files, and still preserve their tone and color "rawness" I couldn't help but try putting a few together. As I am now set up for almost automatic proof printing for my Space print project, I also printed them out on the Canon Pro4000 printer.



Venice Panoramic. 2006.
Kodak 14n Pro.



Venice Panoramic. 2006.
Kodak 14n Pro.


My history and interest in panoramics goes way back to seeing the first digital panoramics from the Viking Lander on Mars in 1976. In the digital age I contracted with Apple to do work on their QTVR Project in 1995 at the same time as I was working with Michael Collette on the panoramic capabilities of the 4x5 Betterlight Scanning Back. I documented some of the story in my "Photography's Bleeding Edge" in the 2006 book "Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography."

Check out the new and building Panoramic Gallery.


Current Exhibition

Life Form opened in the Main Gallery at Stephen Johnson Photography on July 21. We have had many visitors come by the gallery since the opening. Many have then joined workshops and certainly helped build community. Please come see the show. Pass the word.

Seeking Good Venues for Life Form

We are seeking good venues to show this work. The Life Form Series is now available for museum and gallery exhibition after December 2018.


Life Form Announcement. 2018


Print Mentor Program

Many of my mentoring students have wanted help with their printing, often to make sure they can produce a specific print. Consequently, I am starting a Print Mentoring Program that sets up a 2 hour time slot and the production of a finished print, all with the tutorial video of how we did it together. Prints can be up to 16x20 and on either Hahnemühle Museum Etching or Photo Rag Pearl paper. Fee is $500. Email for more information and to set up times. 


Parks Project Poster Bundles


I've decided to bundle some of my national parks project collector posters together for a special price, 6 for $50.

This series was created to celebrate photography's evolution into a digital media with Stephen Johnson's all digital "With a New Eye: The Digital National Parks Project."




please email your comments to us

Free Stuff (a few still left)

Last summer we replaced the Epson 2400s in our lab with their new P600s and consequently have some printers to seed to photographers in need. We were also given some Epson Canvas to share. These are available for pick-up to those of you on my mailing list. Let me know of your interest. I do want to spread them out among a few people.

We've had a few takers, but more are left. Take Advantage.

Epson Canvas Rolls 17 inch


1 Epson 2400 printer left


Equipment for Sale

Canon Lens for sale. EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM


The EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM is a lightweight, compact L Series telephoto zoom lens with Image Stabilizer. The optical Image Stabilization in the new EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens provides up to an incredible four stops of shake correction-a first for Canon IS lenses. The use of fluorite UD lens elements provides excellent optical performance in terms of resolution and contrast. These features, together with its water-and dust-proof construction, provide both the performance and portability to meet user demands.

EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM. $500. I m selling this pristine 1 year old lens as I have replaced it with the new version II.


The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop

Featured Products



New Life Form Folio

pacifica book


lf book page

The Life Form Folio

As we are premiering the Life Form Exhibition, I wanted to have a collectible item and record of the show prior to the full book I plan. So, now available is the 36 page 11x17 wire bound book, 5 years of work from 2013 to 2018 exploring these magnificent lives.

  • Photographs from 2013-2018
  • 36 pages
  • 11x17 wire-bound book
  • $40

Preview and Order Here

Exquisite Earth Exhibition Catalog

pacifica book



ee book pageee book page

The Exquisite Earth Exhibition Catalog

As I've been on a roll on fixing bodies of work into POD books, I decided before the Exquisite Earth show could come down for new upcoming show, I wanted to create a printed record. So, now available is the 56 page 11x17 wire bound book, 5 years of work from 2005 to 2010 traveling this wondrous planet.

  • Photographs from 2005-2010
  • 56 pages
  • 11x17 wire-bound book
  • $50

Preview and Order Here

New Pacifica Book

pacifica book



pacifica bookpacifica book

  • 74 pages
  • 11x17 wire-bound book
  • Pacifica Trail Map
  • 32 years in Pacifica
  • Drawn from 10 years of calendars
  • $75

Preview and Order Here


Pacifica Land Trust Trail Map

Pacifica Trail Map by Pease Maps special to the Pacifica Land Trust.

11" x 17" folded
(free shipping) proceeds go the Pacifica Land Trust, a non-profit corporation.

I'm proud of my 16 years on the board of the Pacifica Land Trust, and happy to have Ben Pease's great trail map as part of our outreach to bring attention to the natural wonders of Pacifica.


trail maptrail map


Gift Certificates for Prints and Workshops!

Emailed or shipped with beautiful gift note card.


To Purchase



gift certificate

Life Form Note cards

5x7 inches (now in stock)



Click to Purchase

12 image Note card set with envelopes featuring photographs from Steve's new Life Form work.

Printed by Steve in his studio in very limited numbers on a color laser digital press


gift certificate

National Park Note cards

note card

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

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


gift certificate



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

Studio Lab Rental

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Studio directions and site layout.


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Stephen Johnson Photography at the Pacifica Center for the Arts
1220-C Linda Mar Boulevard, Creekside Suites, 5-7
Pacifica, CA 94044 650 355-7507

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Last updated on October 12, 2018 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2018, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide