Sun Halo, Paradise Bay. Antarctica. 2005

Stephen Johnson Photography News, Events & Info November 2006


Welcome to the November 2006 edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter. As always, we hope you enjoy this edition.

Thanks to all of you I ran into at PhotoPlus in New York last week with the kind words on my new book Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography Your comments were very encouraging. Take a look at some of the online press, and some quotes. Recent magazine reviews include Photoshop User, Professional Photographer, PC Photo and Camera Arts.

Don't miss the
Professional Image Editing Workshop December 2-5, which was added to our program by request and has been rescheduled for a Saturday through Tuesday run. Our Death Valley in Winter workshop follows in January.


...Book Now Shipping!
...Special Edition Announced
Lab Rental
The View From Here
The Real Experience, The Photographic Record
Featured Print Offer
...Iceberg Confluence, Antarctica
New Products
...Panoramics Poster
Workshop News
...Professional Image Editing
...Death Valley in Winter
...Hands-On Fine Art Digital Printing
...Ireland’s Spectacular West Coast

Upcoming Events
...Monthly Critiques
...Book signing
...Holiday Open House
Recent Publicity
...podcasts reviews
Photographic Services
...Stephen Johnson Editions
Visit Us
Newsletter Administration


Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography

Signed Copies Now Shipping!

Special Edition Announced
Limited Edition Slip-cased edition with original print

New Products

New Poster: Four Panoramics
GrayCapsTM Digital gray card you will always have with you
Gallery Events.....

Monthly Critiques

State of the Art Digital Lab

Now Available As Classroom or Individual Workstation Rental

November 2006

Iceberg in Passing, Antarctica 2005
11x14 Pigment Print


Last Light on Ice Slope, Antarctica 2005
11x14 Pigment Print

$195 each, or both for $350

Two different offerings are being made available this month.

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

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography

Four Panoramics poster by Stephen Johnson
promoting the book

24x32 inches, 300 line screen


The Digital gray card you will always have with you.


The Real Experience, The Photograph

Photography is reductive, funneling a big world of human experience into a small frame of recorded light. It can be more than the original experience in detail and selectivity, but is less than the original experience in most ways. Seeing the potential to make it more, to select, distill, and therefore perhaps even intensify an aspect of the experience is where the power of photography often shines.

Photography, Time and Memory
We've become accustomed to seeing our human experiences rendered by photographs in split-second renditions. This is obviously not the human experience of time. But it has become photographic time.

To encode time in different ways, we sometimes do sequences of images, very long exposures, or even switch to video. We make much of these moments, from Cartier-Bresson's "Decisive Moment" to Harold Edgerton's very high speed stop-action work. But in photography, chasing time in human memory is elusive.

One style of photographic interpretation that has become vogue in nature photography circles is the long exposure blurred-stream turned to fog look. Originating from low light conditions and a desire for some depth of field, these long exposure shots with foggy water have become a style, a source of affectionate mystery and a photographic cliché.

My use of the scanning camera with its thousands of short exposures contained in a single frame has certainly challenged and broadened my notions of photographic time. Movement over time recorded in this way sometimes reveals patterns and rhythm of motion, other times serrating motion into a kind of tri-color cubist time.

We take in the visual experience of space with a roving eye that brings various depths into focus as we glance around. There's little awareness that our eyes are reshaping to alter the focal length of our vision and bringing differing distances into momentary focus. It is automatic and natural. The camera has no such inherent ability. Depth of field must be coaxed from the camera.

Dynamic Range
That same roving eye uses a continuously varying iris muscle to regulate light falling on the retina. A huge range of brightnesses can be accommodated within moments as our eyes dart around a scene. Such a range can be very difficult for a single photograph to record.

A Single View
The challenge of a single photographic record is to concatenate these accumulated experiences into a single frame. It can be a big challenge. We ask for a level of detail equal to what we might have seen onsite with close examination. We try to record the extremes of contrast. We try to chase the human visual experience. We want our emotional reaction to be crucial to the communication.

I often ask students if what they are trying to photograph is actually about visual phenomena. We pick up the camera with an instinct to record, but sometimes it is as much about the feeling of being in a place, rather than what can be seen. Integrating the two into the visual capture is a state where art starts to form.

A Huge Funnel
I often liken the camera to a funnel transforming the huge experience of the real world into the film or sensor's ability to record. This is, by definition a reduction, and hopefully a powerful distillation of the scene before the lens as rendered in light.

I don't have a stylistic or practical suggestion of how to easily embed non-visual experiences into a photograph, but I do think our notion of what a photograph can contain is expanding. It is common to keep journals of our experiences, which can become an obvious enrichment of the photographic experience after the fact. I now regularly record GPS tracks as I work to record real location information for each photograph. (see GPS PhotoLinker) Ever more frequently I get out my spectrophotometer and take ambient light spectral readings for later color management options. While these additions to the photographic experience don't replace simple good seeing and heartfelt response, they do have the potential to add considerably to our understanding and interpretation of the image.

Understanding what you are trying to capture, and relating that to your overall experience of the moment, then determining if it is visual, are primary starting points. Being sensitive to light, and the absence of light, using the language of photography, makes use of the camera as the interpretation medium.

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
by Steve Weiss, Executive Editor. O'Reilly

Tech publishing is by nature a fairly conservative industry, as are its cousins in academic publishing and trade publishing. There's a certain amount of risk in trying to play in new areas, and this was the case when O'Reilly began building a publishing business dedicated to creative and interactive technologies, such as digital photography. That risk is somewhat mitigated by publishing books like Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography, by giving industry leaders a platform to speak in their own voice and to say what they like.

In Steve Johnson's case, he's got a lot to say. Here's a guy who embraced digital technology in photography back in the 80s, and who's used it to at-times amazing ends: he's shown the world what high-res photography can do when you take it outdoors and point it at Nature. As an extension of that, he shows how the digital means make you aware of the process of photography, therefore forcing you to think about what you're trying to achieve. "Why am I making this photograph?"

Along the way, Steve has thought a hell of lot about photography; he's taught a lot of people how to make themselves better photographers by getting them to think more about the art and the science of what they do; he's mentored an astounding number of people who have gone on to influence the industry themselves; he's advised several hardware and software companies on how to improve the tools they create; and he's captured some sublime images that once seen, never leave your memory.

So for years, people have been asking Stephen Johnson when he was going to write a book in which he teaches what he knows, and now that book is finished. More than 300 pages covering the essential physics of light and image capture; the why and how behind essential technique; selected historical riffs; a healthy bit of discourse on social, cultural, and ethical issues; and in general, some terrific writing and perspective on photography by someone who's more than earned the right to call it like he sees it. It's a beautiful book, with a definite point of view. Check it out.

* 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
Dec 2-5, 2006
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.

Four days exploring the tools really needed by photographers for fundamental image control and finishing. Camera RAW acquisition, Color Correction, Sharpening, careful tonal control, and preserving options into archive versions of your files will be our primary concerns. Software concentration will be mainly on Adobe Photoshop, but will look at other tools as well. A number of images with various challenges will be worked through to satisfaction during the course of the day. This seminar is not about compositing or faking photographs, nor is it for beginners, as basic familiarity with Photoshop is required.

* Death Valley in Winter
January 13-16, 2007

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.

* Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
January 20-23, 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.

* Ireland’s Spectacular West Coast - 2007
June 20-30, 2007
Seats limited to 12 students

Join Stephen Johnson and Anthony Hobbs for an unforgettable journey along the rustic West Coast of Ireland. This workshop will include hotel stays in several towns along our route from County Clare towards Connemara and Achill Island. Along the way, participants will explore western Ireland's landscape with its lush greens, rocky islands and remote castles. 

If you are interested in joining the reservation list for this workshop, please email us at  We are limiting this workshop to 12 students. Photography instruction, transportation, lodging and some meals included. Airfare to and from Shannon will be participant's responsibility. A $500 deposit will reserve your place in the class for 30 days. Please see Irish Workshop link above for details.

* 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

Monthly Critiques
next: Thursday evening November 16, 2006

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.

After many requests, we are now conducting monthly critique sessions at our studio in Pacifica, California.

Digital Photography Panel and Book Signing
Book Passage - Corte Madera, California (Marin county)
Sunday January 7, 2007, 7:00 pm

Holiday Open House
Saturday December 9, 2006, noon to 5pm


O'REILLY podcast
MacVoices Podcast

Book Reviews
Book Comments online


Digital Portraits by
The Studios of Stephen Johnson Photography

  • Instant Feedback
  • Special prices
  • Satisfaction or no fees

Stephen Johnson Editions Announced


  • Artwork Copying
  • Custom Printing
  • Custom Profiles


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 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


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

sjphoto-news mailing list

Newsletter Archive

Home | Fine Art Prints | Products | Workshops | Announcements | Online Gallery
Consulting Services | Contact Info | Site Index | Related Web | Mailing List

Last updated on 11/10/06. Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2006, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.