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Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Beyond as the San Andreas Goes to Sea. 2013. Email to order a print. Next Workshop Highway One Coastal Journey, April 20-21, 2013.

Welcome to the April 2013 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

A double rainbow after a soft rain this afternoon as the sun broke through over the Pacific. The bow was particularly crisp, with spectral spread unusually well defined. Oh the wonder of this earth and its remarkable light.

This month's View From Here column explores the idea of The Connected Photograph. We hope you find the column of value and will consider sending us some comments. Our Tutorial this month features some of my favorite quotes from Robert Adams.


  • New workshop: Flora and Form  April 25-27, 2013 or May 16-18, 2013. Shelldance Nursery and Stephen Johnson Photography Studios and Gallery...a great opportunity!
  • There are only 3 spaces left in our Alaskan Adventure Workshop August, 5-17 2013. This is an exciting journey to an unforgettable landscape, which never ceases to impress and inspire whether you are a first time or returning traveler. We will be moving about via trains, planes, and boats through Kenai Fjords, Denali and Katmai National Parks. These parklands are rich with color, wildlife, textures, abstraction and exciting compositional opportunities. Lodging and transportation seating fill up fast, so it would be wise to move quickly and join us on this great adventure.


  • Our classic Black and White Printing Workshop had been added to our workshop scedule for May 4-6, 2013

  • New Workshop: Explore the Golden Gate region for two days of fieldwork on healdands, overlooks, the bridge and lighthouses September 7-8, 2013.

  • Don't miss the opportunity of joining us on our Ireland Workshop and Alaska Workshop this Summer! see below.

The next section of our popular printing workshop Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on runs from June 1-4, 2013.


Don't miss the opportunity to join us on our Ireland Workshop this Summer! We are excited about our Summer 2013 Photography Workshop to Ireland's Spectacular West Coast July 21-31, 2013. This photography workshop on the emerald isle does all of the planning and itinerary work for you to maximize learning, exploration, comfort and enjoyment. Steve's good friend Anthony Hobbs of Ireland's National College of Art and Design, will be co-leading this ten day immersion into the Irish landscape and culture. Exciting field trips, on-site instruction, problem solving techniques and daily critiques are all fundamental to this workshop. Join us!

As part of our ongoing commitment to photographic education, there is one student scholarship spot in many of our classes. Please pass the word along.

For discounted time studying with Steve, keep in mind our Mentoring Program announced last fall.

With all of our busy schedules and limited budgets, destination workshops or classes become a challenge, but many of you still have questions you need answered, or feedback on some new work. We want to remind you of our Virtual Online Consulting Program. This service allows all of you out there around the globe to consult online live with Steve on technical, aesthetic and workflow issues using Skype and your webcam.

Our Essays and Tutorials from the past couple of years can now be found on Google Blogger.

We hope you can come by the gallery and see the new Panoramic Prints we've added to the National Parks Gallery, and the Exquisite Earth exhibition with its accompanying very special Exquisite Earth Portfolio 1. We invite you to join us on a workshop, rent lab space, or just say hello and let us know what you are up to photographically and what you might like to see us offer. We value your input.

Workshop Testimonials



Reflections. Pt. Lobos. 2013.

Pt. Lobos Reflections. 2013
9x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

the warm cliffs and multi-hued water never ceases to fascinate me.


Stephen Johnson Workshops and Event Calendar
Highway One San Mateo Coast  April 20-21, 2013
Flora and Form  April 25-27, 2013  NEW!

Black and White Printing Hands-on  May 4-6, 2013

Flora and Form May 16-18, 2013  NEW!
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on June 1-4, 2013
RAW to Print Summer Digital Bootcamp June 10-14, 2013
Ireland 2013: July 21-31, 2013
Alaska's Parklands: August 5-17, 2013  NEW!
The Golden Gate September 7-8, 2013  NEW!
Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra October 12-15, 2013
Death Valley in Winter January 11-14, 2014
Speaking Events (see below)

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st helens

Mt. St. Helens. 1995. from With a New Eye: The Digital National Parks Project.

by Stephen Johnson

The Connected Photograph

For years I've been talking about the idea of a "connected photograph," an image that exists not only in its space as a visual, and hopefully heartfelt record of what seduced ours eyes into making a photograph, but also as a connection to the place, time and technology embedded in the image.

I find the idea very seductive of linking a photograph that I care very much about, with the surrounding information now automatically generated by digital cameras, and augmenting that information where possible. Time, date and means of exposure are useful, the technical information regarding lens, focal length, aperture, shutter speed, metering modes, exposure compensation, all of which are gathered automatically now. These data points can be deeply useful in trying to determine technical success of a challenging image, and should definitely be looked at when trying to analyze image quality, positive and negative.

Where We Were

I've long been intrigued by the GPS potential. Since the beginning of my project on the national parks, With a New Eye, I've carried a GPS receiver to log exact location. Early units had no digital compass as part of the data stream, so I carried a compass to record bearing as well.

The location and bearing can have all sorts of useful derivations. When used with good maps and mapping software like Google Earth, places and landforms in photographs can be identified and named better than the best note taking I've ever managed. This has proven deeply useful in as commonly traveled a place as Yellowstone and as remote as the Antarctic Peninsula.

In a recent essay, I also mentioned FlightAware as a way of knowing where your commercial flight aerial photographs were taken.

Where Were We

This information can be extraordinarily useful in rendering a better understanding of the geography of a space, both while present, which is becoming ever more possible, and later. Certainly, after the fact placing the photograph in time and space has some dynamic implications. I often use my photograph from the top of Mt. St. Helens as a great example of the photograph carrying its own aesthetic weight, but the context of the actual location dramatically deepening the power of the image.

The weather can often be determined later as well. Although much of environmental conditions might be obvious from the photograph itself, such as sunny or overcast. Temperature, wind direction and speed can also be aids in more fully understanding the scenes. For the most part, this information currently needs to be gathered independently and contemporarily with the image-making.

It is interesting that so much of this information is now automatically gathered by our cell phone cameras. Innovation often comes in the back door even as we lobby the big camera companies to build GPS into the professional cameras. Of course, for reasoning I don't quite understand, the first cameras with GPS built-in seem to be point and shoots rather than pro-bodies. Nikon has made connection with external GPS units as part of their strategy for awhile, Canon has made provisions in recent years.

yos class

As one of Canon's Explorers of Light, Canon will send in equipment to me through their CPS program, and I borrow equipment frequently for testing. I was most intrigued by their new EOS 6D and have been enjoying the built-in GPS and wireless connection. My iPad controlling the camera is fun and potentially useful.

In so many ways, I deeply believe we photograph to hold what we see, which is why I'm so conservative about photo manipulation and fakery. But frankly, it is a huge challenge to hold the wonder of the real world with our cameras. It takes very careful recording and a great deal of finesse in RAW interpretation and image processing to move the recorded view close to the experienced scene.

The Color of Light

One of the areas that continues to be a real challenge is getting the color right. I've talked a great deal about this over the years, and real progress has been made with better cameras, better White Balance controls and tools like the ColorChecker Passport and Adobe's DNG Profile Editor. But there is a missing component here that could be a great aid toward realism in photography, and that is the inclusion of a spectrophotometer in the camera itself.

I believe having a spectral measurement of the ambient light, knowing the real color characteristics of the camera, and being able to integrate those two real pieces of information into the basic interpretation of the photograph, could make real progress toward narrowing the gap between what we see and what we get. This won't fully account for the limitations of the single camera capture as opposed to the almost unbelievably sophisticated images our memory, eyes and brain can experience at the scene. But it could eliminate some big information gaps.


This is one of those issues where some companies have scoffed at the value of the added capability, but I believe some variant of this deeper color interpretation capability will not only come to be embedded in our cameras, but will make a big difference in our ability to be faithful to the wonder we see.

Of course, as I eluded to earlier, a spectral measurement of the light is just another useful piece of information. It cannot account for our own color adaptation to the scene and consequently what we actually "see," being a product of our eyes, our own internal "image processing" and our brain trying to adapt to different light conditions over time.

...continued top of right column


Mt. St. Helens View Rendered by Google Earth.

Rendering out photographic sites in software like Google Earth can give us an unparalleled sense of the geography of the scene. It is a remarkable tool, and of course, works best when you have the exact location of the image rather than just an approximation. However, it is amazing how close you can reason out your position by working with the software.

Interestingly enough, in trying to relocate to exact site of the photograph for this rendering, it appears as though it is no longer there, likely succumbed to the constant landslides we were seeing on the crater rim.

Flora and Form Workshop Coming Up

Check out the Flora and Form  Workshop April 16-18, 2013 or May 16-18, 2013 at Shelldance Orchid Gardens. Any and all cameras welcome.


Shelldance Nursery. 2013.

Latest Video Study: San Francisco Bay Bridge Light Show

Canon 1Dx video. 2013.

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Consulting Programs and Speaking Events

Virtual Education: Our Virtual Consulting and Mentoring Program is working well. Readers of this Newsletter can still get a discount by mentioning this reference when you enroll.

Our One on One Program links you up with Steve at his bay area studio, or when he is on the road near you. Keep an eye on when Steve will be near your town.

Catch Steve Live: Steve will be speaking here and there over the next year, such as Rockport, Maine in late June, Amherst, MA in July and Dublin Ireland in early August.

  • Pacifica: At the Gallery

Photo Film Night: Dorothea Lange: Under the Trees 1965
Spring 2013

  • Chicago Region in April

    College of DuPage. 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL 60137
    Tuesday April 9. 7pm

    Chicago: Columbia College. Thursday, April 11 at 6:00pm to 8:00pm
    Alexandroff Campus Center, 101 600 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL,

  • Maine Media Workshops Artist Lecture.
    Rockport, Maine. June 25, 2013. 8pm
  • NECCC Photo Conference July 2013. Amherst, MA
  • National College of Art and Design
    Lecture. Dublin, Ireland. early August 2013.
  • Tualatin River Photographic Society
    Sherwood, OR, near Portland Oregon
    Saturday October 5. 7pm


Northern California Field Workshops Coming Up

Highway One Journey: April 20-21, 2013

The stretch of coast, from San Francisco south to Santa Cruz, remains a road of refuge and heart engagement for me. The Highway One Coastal Journey Workshop April 20-21 explores the beaches, forests and hills along this awesome roadway.


The Golden Gate: September 7-8, 2013

A two day digital photography workshop exploring San Francisco's Golden Gate. We'll spend time in the Presidio with its tremendous views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point with its spectacular views of the bridge, the Marin Headlands with Point Bonita Lighthouse, views along and San Francisco's ocean headlands of Land's End and the Sutro Baths near the restored Cliff House and its historic Camera Obscura.


Some Quotes from Robert Adams from his book "Beauty in Photography"

Robert Adams Quotes

I am a great admirer of Robert Adams' photography and writing. In one of my favorite books about photography are several lines I refer to in my teaching. I thought I'd share a few with you here.

Truth and Landscape essay

Geography by itself is difficult to value accurately - what we hope for from the artist is help in discovering the significance of a place.

We rely…on landscape photography to make intelligible to us what we already know

Gardens are…strikingly like landscape pictures, sanctuaries…the Persian word for paradise is "walled enclosure" much like what a photographer sees through the finder of his camera.

from Beauty in Photography

the word beauty, is in practice, unavoidable. It accounts…for my very decision to photograph.

The Beauty that concerns me is form. Beauty is a synonym for the coherence and structure underlying life…Why is form beautiful? Because…it helps us meet our worst fear, the suspicion that life may be chaos and that therefore our suffering is without meaning.

Quoting William Carlos Williams…poets write for a single reason - to give witness to splendor.

Art…abstracts. Art simplifies…a careful sorting out in favor of order is called composition.

A photographer can describe a better world only by better seeing the world as it is in front of him. Quoting Weston from his Daybooks, he started to photograph because of his "amazement at subject matter."

I think we judge art "by whether it reveals to us important FORM that we ourselves have experienced but to which we have not paid adequate attention. Successful re-discovers Beauty for us."

Quoting Stieglitz "Beauty is the universal seen"

beauty cover

Previous Tutorial and Technique Posts

The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop Featured Product

National Park Notecards

note card

National Park Color Notecard Set
Stephen Johnson
12 cards/envelopes $20 set

From "With a New Eye" Beautiful 300 line screen offset reproductions with envelopes in clear box. A great gift.




or call to order 650 355-7507



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.

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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

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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

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Last updated on April 17, 2013 . Mail comments to:
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