Stephen Johnson Photography News, Events & Info August 2007

Tunnel Bridge Construction and Fog. Highway One. 2007.
Canon 1Ds II stitched from three horizontals.


Welcome to the August 2007 edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter. As always, we hope you enjoy this edition.

We have added new sections of the Professional Image Editing class August 16-19, the Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On August 23-26 and one we have not done for awhile, the Yosemite in Autumn workshop October 12-14.

Great teaching, great facility.

What more could you need for the plunge into digital photography?

Steve at the Maine Media Workshops. 2007.
Photo by Tom McKean.

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The View From Here
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...Death Valley in Winter

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Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
Signed Copies Now Shipping!
Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography Special Edition
Limited Edition Slip-cased edition with original print

Now Shipping!

Some still available from early edition numbers at the best price.

State of the Art Digital Lab
Now Available As Classroom or Individual Workstation Rental
  • printing
  • profiling
  • image editing

Book Poster: Four Panoramics
GrayCapsTM Digital gray card The Digital gray card you will always have with you, even among 10,000 penguins.
Gallery Events

Critique Session
August 23, 2007, 7-10pm

August 2007

Marine Iguanas, Galapagos. 2005
11x14 Pigment Print on Rag paper

$195 each

As we were waking along the docks in Puerto Ayora on our way to the Darwin Center, a momentary glance to the side found these guys sunning themselves on the concrete. They seemed like a nicely arranged group of really strange creatures. I had been fascinated by the marine iguanas for the prior few days as we travelled among the Galapagos islands. To see them in such a man-made context was irresistible.

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 August 30. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by September 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.

by Carl Amoth

Stephen Johnson's Artists Talk
Maine Media Workshops. Rockport Maine. July 2007

It’s rare to encounter an artist that possesses the skills to communicate and discuss his/her art and craft with the degree of clarity, passion, and interest necessary to continually hold an audience’s attention. Stephen Johnson demonstrated his mastery of these skills recently during a talk delivered to students and faculty of the Maine Media Workshops. He covered topics ranging from the evolution of digital photography to the challenges, opportunities, aesthetics, and ethical considerations the convergence of fine art photography and this powerful digital medium presents.

Steve effectively distilled the essence of these broad topics with great energy—as a matter of fact he was so animated that I had a bit of trouble trying to photograph him. His arms were constantly in motion, and he was rapidly moving back and forth in front of the projector screen where images of his work and presentation slides were quickly transitioning in the dimly lit room. Trying to make a few acceptable photographs of the talk, it took some trial and error experimenting with various ISO and exposure settings. While I was enjoying having at my disposal the features and near-time feedback of my digital camera, Steve was basically describing these capabilities in his talk.

Listening to the talk, it was quite inspiring and gratifying to realize how far the technology has come (and is going) as well as the incredible opportunities it brings to the process of making fine art photography. Steve explained that the sensitivity of a digital camera’s silicon sensor can see a broader range of luminance values than most films—allowing for the capture of up to 14 stops of dynamic range (verses 5 to 7 stops with film, at best).

Artists Lecture Maine Media Workshops. Rockport Maine. 2007.
Photographs by Carl Amoth.

This opens up incredible new photographic opportunities. There is a widely adopted practice of giving favor to photographing landscapes during the so-called “magic hour” of twilight. Digital sensors allow for photographing in virtually any lighting situation. As Steve said in his talk, “Light is sacred; there is no bad light.” In reference to the common practice of heavy-handed “interpretation” of digital photographs using image editing tools like Photoshop, he also said (I paraphrase) “consider letting the earth tell its story, rather than us telling our own story over and over again.”

My reaction to the talk was obviously shared with an attentive audience, as there were frequent “amens” and “right-ons” uttered around the hall. The guy next to me was about as animated as Steve in his reaction to the talk. I just wish I had recorded the talk with my iPod!

Journal Excerpts: Alaska 1988

Every once in a while I like to post some of the field journals. The set from which this piece is drawn, is from my first trip to Alaska in 1988 and has always stayed in my mind.

11:45 p.m. August 17, 1988

Sitting in a meadow just before midnight watching the sun set. But the glow stays. I sit for 20 minutes, and the sky has barely changed. The orange horizon, the rim lit purple great clouds linger, and linger still. A rush of sudden wind moves through the grass like an invisible speeding animal, too swift to be seen, or understood.

The days stretch to 15 hours now. And I want to fill them with all that is possible to do. I have to catch myself and let the day bring what it does, to relax into a pace commensurate with the place.

Tonight watching the sky , I felt for the first time that I really was someplace very different than I had ever been before. The conifers stubbed, the rocky peaks stretching out, and Denali towering into the sky like some crystalline monument to the earth. "A grand gesture" thrusting up into this guy. Not a bad afternoon.

Denali, Wonder Lake
August 20, 1988

Denali! Denali! The Great One rising out of the plain. The Great One who speaks with the morning winds, a giant thrust skyward of eternal ice.

Flying above its glaciers two days ago was truly amazing. Swirled sheets of ice rock and sky moved below us. At 12,000 ft. the mountain itself still loomed a mile and a half above.

It was no less amazing watching the sun set and rise from Wonder Lake. After its famed shroud of clouds broke, the whole majestic reach of the mountain could be seen.

Photographing was hard. The scenic images were easy and purposeless. But the design possibilities were endless. I must have stood there for three hours watching the light change and the clouds drift.

I woke about three times during the night peering out of my tent hoping to see the northern lights. Apparently I missed what display was happening. Just before 6:00 a.m. I peeked out and decided the sunrise merited the effort. Everything was blue and silver. Streaks of orange and yellow began to strike the East facing snowbanks but soon disappeared back into the morning silver. I sat for nearly an hour watching the mountains. The camp was completely silent. I felt like mine were the only human eyes gazing up at the Mountain. But there was a sound. I soon realized that I could hear it the winds racing through the mountains. It was perfectly still where I sat gazing South, but a torrent of rushing frigid air was moving clouds and sky around Denali, eventually covering the great one itself. It was extremely cold, but a beautiful morning.

Chatlinika River. August 24, 1988

Life is miraculous! With every turn and plants in this forest there is something new and exotic. Decay and birth flourishing in every direction. It's impossible to step without crushing some precious form. I feel like an intruder, and yet at the same time inextricably linked to the web of life all around me. We are so much a part of this and yet we live our lives as though we were separate, removed. Even as I crush plants to walk a trail, I feel apart, but the moose scat scattered about reminds me I'm tearing up the trail no more than he did.

Still there is something missed here. Something almost intangible but vital. It must be that the sense of belonging, of not feeling alienated from the world. Any sense of estrangement is eased, left seemingly imagined, contrived out of geometric enclosures and very skewed values.

I wander with my 35mm, content with imprecise impressions. It's hard to take ART seriously this morning. It would separate me from this place. I kept sensing that I would feel like an observer, a clinician recording facts without soul. No doubt it comes partially out of the "need to work" rather than just enjoy. Yet I probably learned more about the planet with that wandering than any carefully constructed products might have allowed later. Without that wandering, there is rarely anything in the photographs that mean much. It's so easy to get wrapped up in producing rather than living.

Lost Lake near Fairbanks. August 25, 1988

I saw the aurora last night. It swept across the sky in a vast, moving, pale green dance of light from east to west. I started watching at 2:30am and finally went to bed at 3:30. Most of the display formed into long semi-parallel streaks tightly bunched from horizon to horizon through the zenith. The lines of light swayed and curled, moving just enough to make you guess their animation. They seemed to touch the fog growing over the lake to the west, with more discernible activity there. The oscillation seemed to grow from the west, although not exclusively. For the most part, the display seemed dimmer than I might have imagined and I concluded that this was a fair night, but not spectacular. But I was nonetheless enthralled. I couldn't imagine getting back into my sleeping bag while this was going on.

It was bitterly cold, but I stood with my head to the sky. After a long period of some dimming, a light streak grew from both horizons. They met almost directly above me and began to swirl in a giant spiral, the movement rapid. A cascade of ice-like streams began shooting out, forming a ragged circle of parallel streaks out from a constantly reforming center. Reds and purples began to appear on the edges of every movement. It was like a giant, living, snowflake of light was bursting out above me, filling about a quarter of the sky. The movements and sheets were forming and reforming so rapidly that it was hard to believe there was no sound to accompany them. They were intense celestial fireworks of the kind that must occur throughout the universe. Last night was the first time I witnessed their majesty. I feel both privileged and a little more in awe of this moving, breathing, universe around me.

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography

Book Reviews
Book Comments online

* Upcoming Workshops
We hope 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.

Professional Image Editing
August 16-19, 2007
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
August 23-26, 2007
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 judgements and interactive honing in on the best print possible.

Fundamentals of Digital Photography

September 15-16, 2007
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.

Yosemite Valley in Autumn
October 12-14, 2007

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. We'll spend three activity packed days in the valley, 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.

Death Valley in Winter
January 19-22, 2008

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

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 Penninsula, 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

Critique Session: August 23, 2007
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

Maine Media Workshops
Rockport, Maine

High-Resolution Imaging and Large Format Digital Printing.
October 21-27, 2007

PDN PhotoPlus New York: October 17-20, 2007

Black & White Digital: A Technology Evolved
Thursday, October 18, 2007 9:00am - 12:00pm

The Fine Print: From Concept to Exhibition
Friday, October 19, 2007 1:00pm - 3:00pm


O'REILLY podcast
MacVoices Podcast
MacEdtion Radio
Book Reviews
Book Comments online


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


Snake, watercolor by Mary Ford


  • Artwork Copying
  • Custom Printing
  • Custom Profiles


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 8/15/07. Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2007, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.