From the Yosemite in Autumn Workshop, Fall 2007. Giant Sequoias, Wawona Grove, Yosemite National Park. 2007.
Canon 1Ds Mark II.


Welcome to the September 2008 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.

In Zion this time, again putting the newsletter together for you all from out on the road. It was a good weekend here with a small workshop and good weather, not too hot and plenty of sky activity.

Our upcoming Fall workshops include our plunge into the wonderlands of Yosemite in Autumn. This workshop gives us all a chance to see this magnificent park in a less crowded, often subdued light with autumn color dotting the landscape.

Coming right up is our critical Professional Image Editing workshop. It's enrollment is low, so it is a great opportunity to learn in an intimate setting with a very well equipped lab, not to mention great instruction. If you are serious about digital photography, but really need help with the critical digital editing processes for photographers, this is your class.

Our highly regarded Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-On workshop still has a few spots in early October.

We have also added a starting point for people wanting to get involved in digital photography, a fall offering of our Fundamentals of Digital Photography class in early November.

The first 2009 workshop is up, our long-running Death Valley in Winter workshop, a four day excursion into this strange valley's often soft winter.

We are considering another Galapagos Photo Workshop, April 3-13, 2009. Email us for more details - this workshop should be a blast for all.

Great teaching, great facility.
What more could you need for the plunge into digital photography?

Kolob Terrace. Zion National Park. Utah. 2008.
Canon 1Ds Mark III.


...New Ted Orland Poster
...Al Weber book
...Art and Fear
Featured Print Offer
Spillway, Hoover Dam. 2008
The View From Here
...Reflections on Mastery
The Digital Book
...Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
Workshop News
...Professional Image Editing
...Fine Art Digital Printing
...Yosemite in the Fall
...Fundamentals of Digital Photography
...Death Valley in Winter

Upcoming Events
...Photoshop World Las Vegas
...Photokina 2008
...PhotoPlus New York City
...Sierra Club Talk New York City
Recent Publicity
...Parks Book Interview. May 2008.
...Book reviews
For Sale
...Older Epson Printers for sale that are no longer being used
Photographic Services
...Stephen Johnson Editions
Visit Us
Newsletter Administration
...Newsletter Subscription
...Newsletter Archive


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. Please take a look and browse. There many one of a kind items there, available nowhere else.


The Bookstore

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.

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 digital truths.

Featured Products

GrayCapsTM Digital gray card. The Digital gray card you will always have with you, even among 10,000 penguins.

September 2008
Spillway, Hoover Dam. 2008
11x14 Pigment Print on Rag paper
$195 each

The grand architecture of the Hoover Dam has always knocked me out. I try to stop every time I'm through the area, but rarely give it time. At Photoshop World Las Vegas in early September I took a few hours to wander around the site. It was hot, but the place is so visually compelling I go back today and easily spend many days.

We're offering an 11x14 inch print, matted to 16x20 and ready to frame for $195, framed for an additional $75. This print at this price is offered through September 30. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by October 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.


Reflections on Mastery

Looking ahead to 2009, even late 2008, I'll be on the road quite a bit. I'm working on an Alaskan workshop for early August 2009, perhaps even another Galapagos trip, definitely Iceland. In planning these trips the biggest thrill is the chance to show others some of the wonders I've seen. It is a very different sharing than the photographs themselves, but it is at the heart of teaching and encouraging inspiration.

Travel lately seems mostly about teaching, and therefore sharing, helping, nurturing and sometimes just plain old pep talks. Sometimes talks about slowing down and looking carefully. I always learn from my students, always end up seeing things my eyes alone would miss. It is a very rich experience. It's no wonder so many people want to do the teaching gig. It's a shame more of them aren't good teachers. I hear horror stories of indifference and self-absorption all of the time. I also hear great stories of wonderful experiences.

Many of the people teaching out there self-declare themselves to be Masters. Not only is this lack of humility rather shocking, it also seems that when self-declared it is almost never true. Mastery is never reached, it is only reached for, in my opinion, new and more distant aspirations keep pulling us forward, reaching, always reaching, for that perfect execution.

I am very suspicious of self-declared masters, or notions of mastery in general. It is a bit like the word genius, so overused as to almost lose meaning. I remember a story about Einstein getting some help in the early 50's at Princeton in an area which he knew little. In the middle of a rather detailed unload by the improvised lecturer, Dr. Albert said something to the effect, can you slow down, I'm not as smart as they say.

Photography is about vision and craft. Both can be made stronger in us, but they are very different. The image is non-verbal, often intuitive and always visual. The craft is care, experience, patience and detail. Meshing the two can be challenging, as they seem to draw upon different parts of the brain and personality. Both can be aided through teaching, but in very different ways. We are in age of craft defined as tips and tricks, and little discussion of vision at all. Craft is not tricky; it is plain hard work and care. Vision cannot be taught in and of itself, but sensitivities can be recognized and encouraged, as can strong design.

My workshops, nor anyone else's, can make you a master. It is about the aspiration to master the medium of photography to your level of satisfaction, and perhaps go even a bit beyond. It is about intensive photographic experiences that challenge your mind, heart and soul to make art. My workshops discuss technical issues and procedures, but the emphasis remains on content and asking the most of your commitment to photography as art. But even that remains a journey, not a destination, the aspiration and seductions keep changing, growing, staying tantalizingly out of reach, but hopefully bringing ever more beauty and satisfaction to your craft and vision.

Of course making art always has its ups and downs. It's often a struggle to keep working, and impossible to feel good unless you are working. It's often lonely, and maybe has to be, as that is sometimes the only way to concentrate, to find that one instance that has to be held now, shared now, almost obsessively, certainly with a unique concentration and passion.

In those senses, it is not about mastery, it is about necessity.

falls and rainbow

Zion Cliffs and Clouds. 2008.

Make the Art (a song from 1999)

I can make the art
I've got a vision to put out there
but it's fragile at its heart
and can fall to despair

Workin' all day and night
pourin' heart and soul
to keep those dreams alive
that blood pumped and flowin'

What is really at the heart of art
a passion struggle from the very start
I try so hard, so hard to see
try so hard to make it seen

There's rarely money
to ease your mind
no security over time
but a hunger to the core
seeking light like some mythic lore

I move around this great big world
see such beauty and intricacy
I want to hold it like some precious love
let another soul see and believe

Pushin, pushin' hard
light fallin' into form
reachin', always reachin'
for that perfect execution

Its instinct, it's drive
to shape the world through your eyes
you go way up, and way down
fighting for some faith and hope

Workin' all day and night
pourin' heart and soul
to keep those dreams alive
that blood pumped and flowin'

What is really at the heart of art
it's a passion struggle from the very start
I try so hard, so hard to see
I want so bad to make it seen

Out on a cliff, on the edge
earth and sky filling my eyes
the brush of a breeze
space like infinity

Out on the trail till you ache
the next horizon is too far away
but we gotta press on, we gotta see the dawn
from that hill way over there

What is really at the heart of art
it's a passion struggle from the very start
I try so hard, so hard to see
I want so bad to make it seen

-Steve Johnson

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.

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.


Professional Image Editing
September 18-21, 2008
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

This 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 with the time to really understand the processes, and to work through difficult images.

Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
October 2-5, 2008
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.

Yosemite Valley in Autumn
October 11-14, 2008

The fall colors of Yosemite offer photographers a wide variety of hue and texture. As the weather cools, the valley begins to change, subtle and beautiful colors start to emerge. People begin to disappear, bright greens turn to browns, yellows, blacks and golds. The valley smells fresher, the air clears and invites the walking we will be doing during this workshop. Views from Glacier Point, the Wawona Grove of Giant Sequoias and numerous spots along the Merced River with the valley's towering cliffs will fill our frames. We'll spend four activity packed days in the valley and surrounding areas, sometimes rising before dawn and lingering for the last moment of twilight.

The trip is designed to be an in-depth landscape photography workshop in the context of this digital age. We will discuss technical and aesthetic issues, tapping into your emotional response to this landscape, working toward images that are uniquely your own.

Fundamentals of Digital Photography
The Basics and Much, Much More
November 8-9, 2008
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

This is an exciting exploration of photography's powerful new digital tools with one of the most knowledgeable artists in the field. This class is designed to provide you with the background and understanding to transition your work into the digital realm.

The digital basics are covered here, in real world terms, with care to make sure the concepts are understood and the complications simplified. Those basics are built on to tackle the thorny issues of camera design and choice, data storage, color management and printing.

death valley

Death Valley in Winter
January 31-February 3, 2009

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


Photoshop World Las Vegas
September 4-6, 2008

Aesthetics and High End Digital Photography
Friday September 5. 10:45am-11:45am

Down to Earth Color Management.
Saturday September 6. 11:00am-12:00pm


Photokina 2008
Koln Germany. September 23 - 28, 2008

Hahnemuhle: 10.1, Stand C020
XRite: Hall 4.1, Stand Number D50



PhotoPlus New York City
October 23-25, 2008

The Elegant Black & White Image
Thursday, October 23, 2008. 9:00am-11:00am

The Fine Print: From Concept to Exhibition
Friday, October 24, 2008. 1:00pm-3:00pm


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

Photography, Realism and the Environment
New York City Sierra Club Photography Committee

Wednesday evening October 22, 2008. 6:30pm to 9pm
St. Paul's Church on West 59th St., between 9th & 10th Avenues, Second Floor, New York City 10021


Guest appearances on Bert Monroy's Pixel Perfect Web TV Series.

Episode 103





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. Make an offer. Must pick up.

  • Epson 1280
  • 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


We are now offering rental time in our new lab on an hourly basis during our normal business hours.

Tuesday-Friday 10am to 5pm.
$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 CS2 or 3 or Adobe Lightroom 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 michelle@sjphoto.com 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 9/13/08 . Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2008, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.