Road, Escalante. Utah. 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

Oaks and Morning Mist. Yosemite Valley, 2008.
see Yosemite in Autumn Workshop. October 15-19, 2009.



Welcome to the September 2009 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.

We appreciate all of you who check in with us every month to see what is happening and what we've put up to share.

The "View from Here" column this month ponders how landscape photography and connections to the natural world work together.

Coming right up are our last two studio workshops, a carefully planned sequence of professional digital photography classes—Professional Image Editing September 19-22 and Fine Art Digital Printing September 26-29. Join us if you need help with these topics, I believe we provide an exceptional learning environment and facilities.

Although the October Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra Workshop is now full, in response to many requests for additional session, we have added an October 15-18 workshop.

Field workshops late this fall will take us to one of the most special places on the west coast of America, Pt. Lobos. The Pt. Lobos Carmel workshop starts November 15 and includes a visit to Carmel Galleries.

The Death Valley in Winter workshop is scheduled for January 28-31, 2010.

Our monthly Critique Sessions restart on Thursday September 24 at 7pm.

We are also donating some older printers to non-profits, educational institutions or government agencies. See below for information..

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


Professional Image Editing. Last chance to Register!

Critique Session Thursday Evening September 24, 209 7pm

Printers Available for Donation!

Intern and Scholarship Programs

Lecture at UC Merced. September 17.

Video of Steve's Maine Media Workshops Artist's Lecture. Thanks to Patrick Durante. Needs Apple QuickTime plug-in.

New DVD: Matting and Framing

September 2009


Aspen, Grass and Frozen Leaves. Yosemite Valley. 1977.
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each

Wandering around with a borrowed Mamiya RB67, delving into very purposeful exposure and expanded development using the Zone System, I happened across this small scene of a glowing tree trunk, dried grass and black leaves turning from fall deep into winter. In my own mind it was a turning point in the ascent of my love for black and white photography..

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 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.


Field Sculpture near Zion. Utah. 2009

Landscapes and Art: Earth Connections of the Spirit

I'm just back from a long summer of travel, from Maine, to Iceland, to all over the southwest. Spending time back out amid the natural world does make me ponder what I'm up to.

Photography is a representational medium. By technological reality and conventional understanding, it is a visual record of a scene before a lens. Of course like any artistic medium, it can be transformed into many other things, from the silly to the evocative.

In many ways the journey of a modern landscape photographer is in no small way a journey of reconnection of the spirit to the earth. We miss the rising and setting of the sun, the cycle of moon and seasons of stars. We fail to take the time to smell in the scent of the salt in sea air, and the perfume of wildflowers in spring. It is an easy and oft expressed lament, but I know my choice to do the work I do as a landscape photographer is tied up in an effort to make those re-connections, and maintain a more direct link to the natural world. It is a very imperfect method, and very carbon-intensive, but important.

Solace can be found in this real world, a connection made to where we've come from and how we've lived for most of human existence. Landscape and natural world photography can help renew those links. It puts you in a place, sets up a relationship of some reverence and asks you to take time. Time to see, time to listen, time, perhaps, to feel a part of the earth. By it's very nature it is opportunity to record the light of the scene into something that can be held, perhaps to understand, certainly to share, time to make a photograph. I believe it is an experience of reconnection. This is particularly true of photographs that carry us to the wonder in its natural and nuanced reality.

Our so called "enhancing" of photographs can hold this embrace at bay, keeping us from being able to deeply empathize with the souped-up color and harsh contrast we so often see in photographs. It is in the appreciation for what we actually experience with our eyes and heart that holds a key toward a connective renewal of our innate relationships with that natural world. It seems that more derivative imagery simply has different intents.

pothole rocks

Rocks, Pothole Point. Canyonlands. Utah. 2009

Earth imagery has healing power as well. It is now documented to some degree that when surrounded with natural scenes of real earth color and form, patients heal better physically and emotionally. This comes as no surprise to me. In fact, I would be surprised if it were not the case. Just as we work better under real-world lighting spectrums, we function better surrounded by reminders of the planet we are native to.

Using a term like native planet may seem a bit odd with our decades long delay of continued reaching into space making the notions of other worlds even more remote. But I believe a case can be made that we've created fairly aliened worlds right here on earth, with our badly lit, air conditioned workplaces, our cluttered possesion-filled homes and TV screen lives. Our computers pull us toward this artificiality as well, making modern digital photography something of a double-edged sword. Of course, even with our new found romantic nostalgia for the darkroom, it was hardly a natural world experience either.

If you enhance and idealize natural scenes, there comes a point where you can limit your ability to touch, to engage the viewer in the real world. The idealization of landscape can be in and of itself a holding back of the viewer from the world they can see, or could see if they were there. It is, afterall, kind of about the being there, the sharing of what was seen, the joy of the wonder.


zion stream

Zion Stream. Kolab Terrace. Utah. 2009

An Example

Photo connection and distance takes many forms. Photographic styles have often developed that embed distance, even surrealism. They can reveal nuances of sight beyond human vision, and touch emotion deep in the modern soul. Some technical adaptations create seductive effects.

The blurry stream is one example of photographic adaptation turned into sought after style. Long exposures necessitated by low light and deep depth of field requirements bred its own look. But for all of its appeal, it is not real, not our experience of the place. it is a perfectly valid expression of time passing before a open shutter, and way over-used.

zion grass

Zion Grass. Kolab Terrace. Utah. 2009

bryce sky

Sky Through Towers. Bryce.. Utah. 2009

pothole rocks

Iceland Workshop. 2009. Photo by Einar Erlendsson

Workshop Snippets from Steve

"You can't photograph your thoughts."

"Cover an eye and see the world in 2D, just like your camera, maybe even wear an eye-patch and wander around in pirate garb."

"Delay pushing the shutter until you decide what you are photographing."


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 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:

Professional Image Editing
September 19-22, 2009
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
September 26-29, 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

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 September 24, 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 visi


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


An Artist and the Land: Stephen Johnson and the Great Central Valley
University of California Merced. Merced, California.

With a special walk through of the Great Central Valley Exhibit.
Thursday September 17, 2009, 7pm. University Library Room KL 355


Photography's Brilliant Future. Stephen Johnson.

6Sight Future of Imaging Conference Monterey
Monterey Conference Center

November 12. 2009. 9am


Printing Industries of America Color Managment 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 vdiedo demostrating how to prepare, measure, cut your matts, lable 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 prooject, 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.


We've sent you this newsletter because, at some point, you told us you were interested in hearing from us.

If you'd like to unsubscribe, change your email address, or give us comments about the newsletter, please send a note to

To subscribe to the sjphoto-news mailing list

To communicate with us regarding the list, email:

Newsletter Archive

Last updated on September 16, 2009 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2009, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.