Stephen Johnson Photography News, Events & Info October 2007


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

After much interest expressed, we have put together a Galapagos Photo Workshop, May 30-June 9, 2008. See below for more details - this workshop should be a blast for all.

We have added new workshops with this newsletter and new ways of working with Steve on the development of your photography. Check out the Graduate Study Lab and our Digital Black and White Hands-on workshops.

Great teaching, great facility.

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

Steve in Death Valley. 2007.
Photo by John Csongradi.

...Galapagos Photo Workshop
...Book Now Shipping!
...Special Edition
Lab Rental
...Four Panoramics Poster
Featured Print Offer
...Stephen Stills and Neil Young
The View From Here
Black and White
Workshop News
...Graduate Study Lab
...Digital Black and White
...Fine Art Digital Printing

...Death Valley in Winter

...Professional Image Editing

The Book
...Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
Upcoming Events
...Monthly Critiques
...Canon Lectures
PDN PhotoPlus New York
...PDN On-The-Road
Recent Publicity
...book reviews
Photographic Services
...Stephen Johnson Editions
Visit Us
Newsletter Administration
...Newsletter Subscription
...Newsletter Archive


Galapagos Photo Workshop, May 30-June 9, 2008.
Eight person Catamaran. Approximately $5000, plus airfare.
email immediately if interested: info@sjphoto.com
2 places left!.

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.

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
October 25, 2007, 7-10pm

State of the Art Digital Lab
Now Available As Classroom or Individual Workstation Rental

  • printing
  • profiling
  • image editing

October 2007
Stephen Stills and Neil Young
Stephen Stills and Neil Young. The Bridge Concert 2005
11x14 Pigment Print on Rag paper

$195 each

Stephen Stills and Neil Young at the Bridge School Benefit Concert in 2005. Proceeds go the The Bridge School.

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 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.


Black and White: Our Heritage

Photography began as black and white. From early experiments to processes remarkably like our own today, a previously unseen monochrome world was depicted. As magical as the medium was, it was also a little strange, absent of color, it rendered a world more akin to fine engravings or pencil drawings. Fox-Talbot's first collection of photographs from his work in the 1820s was even titled "The Pencil of Nature."

The paintings of the time were often idealized and constructed for drama. Early photography was typically quiet, of ordinary scenes, many of which would never have "merited" the painter's brush. These early photographs were also inherently more abstract, the lack of color transformed the world into tonal relationships where shape and form often dominated over literal content.

However, the desire to record color ran deep, and various experiments continued into the late 19th century producing color separated tri-color lantern slide shows and eventually the Autochrome process in 1900.

Something curious happened in the sixty years between photography's announcement and the Autochrome. We came to love the black and white image. It even came to define what photography was. It was a more abstract reality, a world of tone, shadow and light, of shape and form. To this day, so much of what we think of as photography is black and white.

The introduction of practical color materials in the late 1930s produced an avalanche of colorful, but often ordinary images. Many talented photographers found it difficult and often uninteresting to work in color. The vocabulary of tone was largely supplanted by colorfullness, and photography's built-in abstraction was reduced.

Portraiture, fashion and tourist photography leaped at color. The movie industry used it for their likely blockbusters. Eventually a whole new genre of filmmaking was born somewhat in reaction against this, going back to black and white with the dark and often moody film noire. The romance of black and white continues today.

Digital black and white has had an interesting evolution. The first electronic imaging systems were naturally luminance-based and consequently black and white. Even back to the Pantelegraph in 1864 whose telegraphic transmissions were monochrome, in that case blue and white. The first television and wirephotos were black and white. The first CCD images were black and white, the first that were digitized were as well.

Digital cameras emerging out of the late 1980s and into the early 1990s were black and white, eventually building color from tri-color filtered exposures, filter wheels and assembly software. Kodak's DCS100 and 200 were black and white cameras built onto Nikon bodies. The Leaf DCB was a black and white back for medium format cameras like the Hasselblad. All of these quickly evolved into color with a distributed filter system not unlike the Autochromes of 1900.

Nowadays digital cameras are color devices. It is unavoidable, the light is passed through a matrix of color filters. For black and white interpretations, a color image must be produced first, then the color stripped away. The notable exceptions to this are the Foveon sensor in the Sigma SD 9, 10 and 14 (which can simply choose not to separate the RGB signals) and the BetterLight Scannng Back for 4x5.

Our love of black and white remains high. It is often said that one of the failings of digital photography it that it is flat, lacking in contrast. Although the concern may be reflective of some people's experience, unfortunately the characterization is simply based on lack of knowledge as to how to tone the image into whatever look and feel desired. This tonal "failing" has been seen as chronic in black and white. Again, it is a matter of toning the image into the look and feel desired, most often using a curve-based editor. Ironically, this so-called flatness is related to a greater dynamic range capability in digital systems than film, producing more detail across the tonal range than we are accustomed to. Often the "cure" is to impose a film-like S curve on the photograph, brightening upper mid-tone values and darkening lower mid-tone values. This contrastier result preserves detail in whites and blacks, but often delivers a desired tonal punch.

The desire to print black and white on inkjet ran deep. On the Iris I could print only the black ink and build up the image gradually. Later on Epson inkjets, we substituted black and gray inks for the color set and built funky workarounds to print our black and white photographs. Today we have dedicated black and gray inks within the color sets and dedicated driver support. Printing black and white digitally is now real.

The integration of film scanning, black and white conversion from color, and tonal relationships are the motivation for the founding of our digital black and white workshop programs.

Studio News

Parks Book Delayed

Due to editing delays the national parks book has been pushed to Spring of 2008. It will be a better book for this extra time. We will keep you informed of its progress.

Galapagos and Ireland Workshops Added

We're going international in our workshops this year, with trips to the Galapagos in cooperation with Explorer's Corner and to Ireland with the assistance of Professor Anthony Hobbs of the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. These trips mark a turning point in the workshop program and have been planned for quite some time. We hope you can join us on one of them.

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.

Graduate Study Lab
October 26, 2007
Additional Dates by Arrangement
(Normally Fridays)
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

Days dedicated to labwork with guidance by Stephen Johnson in his specially-built digital photo lab. Afternoon reviews of work. Full lab access. Prior approval must be obtained before registering.

Call for details: 650 355-7507.

Digital Black and White: Scanning, Conversion and Printing
November 8-11, 2007
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

Explore black and white photography in the digital age from file to print with a classic landscape photographer who knows his stuff. Discussions will include scanning, conversion from color files, using filtered color for traditional tonal effects and duotone controls for tonal tuning. Various black and white printing options and papers will also be explored in detail, including the new gelatin-silver look-alike papers.

For lovers of black and white, this will be fun.

Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
December 6-9, 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

January 12-13, 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.

Death Valley in Winter
January 19-22, 2008

Full, but we'll add you to our waiting list if yyou like. info@sjphoto.com

Professional Image Editing
January 31-Feb 3, 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

2008 Schedule Preview

Professional Image Editing
January 31-Feb 3, 2008

Yosemite in Winter
Feb 7-10, 2008

Highway One and the San Mateo Coast
March 14-16, 2008

May 3-4, 2008

Ireland’s Spectacular West Coast
July 5-14, 2008

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: October 25, 2007
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

Canon's Explorer of Light Photographer - Stephen Johnson
October 10, 2007. 7pm
University of Nevada, Reno

PDN On the Road Seminars
  • Atlanta - October 1-2
  • Chicago - October 29-30
  • Dallas - November 12-13
  • New York City - December 3-4
  • Los Angeles - December 10-11

Canon's Explorer of Light Photographer - Stephen Johnson
December 2, 2007
School of Visual Arts,
New York

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
DIMA Podcast
Photoshop World Podcast
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 10/11/07. Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2007, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.