Dusk, Pedro Point, Pacifica. 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 October 2009 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.

I've been going through tons of old work these last weeks, steeped in my own photographic beginnings, the play, the exploration, and the sheer volume of work. It's kind of overwhelming, but fascinating, looking back at what led me down this landscape photography path.

As I watched the full moon rise last night, and the ocean breakers glow with eerie bioluminescence a few days before, the wonders of this natural world continue to tug at my heart and drive me outdoors to where I feel most at home. That sense of home in the natural world is clearly central to my choice of subject matter.

Thank you for your interest in the workshops over the years. They help keep me engaged in nature, in sharing, and I am grateful to so many of you for the opportunity to help, and for coming along.

Our first session of the October Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra Workshop is now full, so we have added an additional session, an October 15-18 It is currently very small, so join us quickly and take advantage of that intimacy.

Our next field workshop this fall 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.

We have extended our lease and have scheduled another Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on Workshop for 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.

Our monthly Critique Sessions continue on Thursday October 29 at 7pm.

As we announced last month, we are donating some older printers to non-profits, educational institutions or government agencies. 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


Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra. Last chance to Register!

Critique Session Thursday Evening October 29, 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

October 2009


Iceberg, Antarctica. 2007.
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each

Every iceberg is different. Some are white, tall and majestic, others crystalline, shading from deep blue to almost transparent. They can be sensual well beyond belief. This one was.

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


Yard, Le Grand. 1982

Photography as Communication

I recently had a very moving experience based on a photograph from more than 20 years ago. I went back to my home town of Merced to lecture at the new University of California there. A few old friends got in touch when they heard I was coming to town. One was a friend from political campaigns in the late 60's and 1970. Candice was now teaching part time at Merced College and wondered whether I could come by her Creative Writing class as they were using my book on the Central Valley, The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland, writing stories from the photographs.

Of course I agreed to come by, and was almost moved to tears by the experience. Candice had chosen a photograph from my brother's back yard from 1982 and it was absolutely fascinating to hear some of the memories triggered and the places thinking about this image took the students.

It reminded me that we know so little of what effect we might have when we create an expression. Whether a photograph, words, a piece of music or a sculpture, by our act of giving physical manifestation to our vision we create a potential chain of reaction that can go on almost endlessly. I was very humbled by some of the effects, and thrilled to see something I made, and so long ago, have such an effect on people now. I suppose it was even more so as the class was filled with a classic cross-section of valley immigrant young people, few of them from there, all with aspirations, all very deeply human memories and likely their own creative impulses.

zion stream

Main Street, Ceres, Stanislaus County. 1984.

There were stories of visits to grandparents farms, yearning for a rural life, made up narratives of the likely circumstance of the people whose laundry was hanging in the "Yard, Le Grand" photograph, longing for their own versions of a simpler home life left behind somewhere. Many seemed touched by the experience of the letting the photograph take them to another place. I was very pleased with their words.

I often go off about how photography has a unique and precious place in our human understanding of the world around us and its ability to even feed our own memories and supplant them. This particular experience just cemented those notions even deeper in my mind.

zion streamzion stream

Of course how we use the photographs, the context in which they are seen, the association between images, these all effect our understanding. In a book, we often make page spreads with a photograph filling both the left and right pages, thereby associating photographs as we design them into these side by side relationships. Such placement needs to make sense to the viewer in some way.

The fruitstand above, seen alongside the pesticide can dump at a small crop dusting airfield creates an editorial relationship. Mostly, such associations weaken the power of the individual images and the broader meaning the viewer can bring to the experience These did not appear side by side in the Central Valley book.

I've always preferred to make such spreads be about design and spatial relationships rather them implied meaning. There are all sorts of ways of making the relationships work though, I've tried to avoid the editorial, and stay on the visual.

zion stream

Yettem, Fresno County. 1984.


zion stream

The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland

The book from which these photographs were drawn, our 1993 work with a 70,000 word manuscript by Gerald Haslam and photographs by Robert Dawson and me.


I've been looking for some misplaced negatives from the 70s the last few weeks. Without really intending to, it has become a huge trip through the last few decades of life, work, memories and family.

There are, of course, the huge numbers of unrealized gems (particularly if they remain as proofs rather than fully seen as prints), far too many negatives stuffed unproofed into file folders screaming to be scanned, and the inevitable feeling of being overwhelmed by my 20 years of film.

As many have noted, photographs not only remind us of our past, they have a strange and sometimes disturbing quality of supplanting actual memories. A photograph's power, and video for the matter, to bring back a view of the past is extraordinary...glimpses of people now gone, events long past, settings preserved. By the focus on the particular, they can also distort the real balance of perception at the time, creating emphasis and concentration on the recorded. This has is own built-in distortion, and insight, as those moments were chosen to be recorded.

But photographs also deepen our experiences of the scenes we choose to record. They can be held, studied, experienced in very different ways. I often remind people that for all of it value and potential importance, a photograph is very reductive of your real world experience. And that is true. A photograph is also long-lived, and a moment, by definition, momentary. The freezing of a momentary visual impression has it own language and boundaries, but it's own realities as well, sometimes startling realities...a nuance held, a juxtaposition of revealing expressions, a hard to believe, fleeting phenomena. Some things happen too fast to be sure we saw them at all, like a tiny green burst above the sun as it sets.

zion stream

Green Cap on Sun setting into the Pacific. 2009.



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:

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.


dusk mono lake

Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra
October 10-13, 2009 (now full)

Additional session added: October 15-18, 2009

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.

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


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

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


PhotoPlus New York City
October 22-24, 2009

12 Things to Improve Your Photography
Thursday, October 22, 2009. 1:15pm-3:15pm

Down to Earth Color Management
Friday, October 23, 2009. 3:30pm-5:30pm


At The Studio Gallery

Critique: Thursday Evening October 29, 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.


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


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



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 5500 (with lots of ink supplied)
  • 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 October 8, 2009 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2009, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.