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Devil's Backbone Tower and Moonlight on Water. Crater Lake, Oregon. 2016. Canon 5DSr. Click to order a print. Next Workshop: Photoshop Straight: Real World Image Finishing August 27-28, 2016

Welcome to the August 2016 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

The last few months have been filled with slide copying projects, digging out the early work on my digital national parks project from the 1990s and most recently a quick Oregon trip planning my Crater Lake Eclipse workshop for next summer. Off to Ireland next week!

This month's View From Here column features some recent photographs and explorations from southern Oregon. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments. Our Tutorial Section repeats last month's detailing using a DSLR as a film copier.


  • 2016 Summer Fall Workshop Schedule has been posted with these and other great courses coming up. See what a great experience students have had on Steve's Workshops by exploring Workshop Testimonials.

    Photoshop Straight: Real World Image Finishing August 27-28, 2016. A two-day workshop concentrating on Photoshop as a straightforward photo processing tool rather than an instrument of image alteration. This workshop continues a new series of classes concentrating on the tools within Photoshop critical to Photographers. It is a great chance to explore digital photographic editing with Steve in his custom-built lab. Hands-on help and demonstrations of his use of editing tools, executed with restraint and finesse, will benefit all of your digital photography work. This class is designed to break down the steps to really understand the processes, and to work through difficult images.

    Fine Art Printing Hands-on. Sept. 24-27, 2016. Focusing exclusively on fine-art digital printing, Stephen explores the possibilities of printmaking using Epson inkjet printers. Concentrating on printing with color pigments and black/gray ink combinations on coated and rag papers, students learn from the digital pioneer how he obtains his impressive results during printing demonstrations in the digital lab. Stephen covers workflow issues, color management, correcting color casts, adjustment layers, custom profile generation, editing, and inspection, as well as paper visual qualities and the challenges and advantages of printing.

    Vision and Craft Bootcamp: October 2-8, 2016. Maine Media Workshops. This full-week photography workshop is an intense immersion into digital photography with one of its pioneers. In five days you will go from perhaps not even understanding what a RAW file is, to making well-crafted and thoughtful prints. Fieldwork, extensive lecture and lab work will fill our time together. Every student will have full access to their own workstation in the lab. Topics include practical experience with digital exposure, RAW processing, image editing, color management and printing.

    Crater Lake and Total Solar Eclipse. August 16-21, 2017 (filling fast) Awesome Crater Lake, a total Eclipse of the Sun among strange Painted Hills, check this out, an amazing opportunity!


Steve in daily group discussion with his December Image Editing Workshop.
Photos by Fiona McDonnell.

Scholarships and Mentoring

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.

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 our Newsletter Archive and some 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



Flaming Clouds at Flaming Gorge, Utah. 1987.
Kodak Kodachrome 35mm film, copied with Canon 5DSr. 2016.


Flaming Clouds and Flaming Gorge.1987.
Canon 5DSr copy from Kodachrome

11x13 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each.

This scene has stayed in my memory as the clouds were so spectacular. Even though I have larger format 120mm film negatives, the slide was much more convenient to copy, and thus with little effort, I can share it here.

As I said in last month's Tutorial, copying with the Canon 5DSr and a good 1:1 macro lens, I'm able to bring so much work back into my life that I was unlikely to scan individually. I decided to leave the Tutorial in place for this month's News in case you missed it.

2016 Workshop Schedule
Photoshop Straight: Real World Image Finishing August 27-28, 2016
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on: September 24-27, 2016
Vision and Craft Bootcamp: October 2-8, 2016. Maine Media Workshops
The Wonders of Mono Lake. October 13-16, 2016
Death Valley in Winter. January 28-31, 2017
Crater Lake and Total Solar Eclipse. August 16-21, 2017 (filling fast)

devils slide suset

Sunset over Pacific from Devil's Slide.

Speaking and Exhibition Events (see below)

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Boat Wake. Crater Lake. Canon 1Dx II.

Beautiful pattern on Crater Lake.


Purchase a print of this photograph

merced river

Trees, Crater Lake, OR. 2016.
Canon 1Dx II.

by Stephen Johnson

On the Road to Oregon

I've always been drawn to volcanoes. The rawness, the starkness, the profound sense of earth upheaval. Most volcanoes stretch into the sky, even if not to the height they once might have been. All seem places of wonder, connected to the core, literally and somehow emotionally.

Crater Lake is a particularly strange volcano, a huge collapse with unbelievably blue water–water so blue it is almost violet. It is not easy to render photographically, looking more like a Photoshop saturation edit gone awry than something real.

7,700 years ago, the massive Mount Mazama erupted spreading ash over the western US and Canada. In a second phase, a ring vent fracture caused the mountain to collapse inward, leaving the expansive crater 6 miles across that filled with water over time. Today, Crater Lake is an impressive 1949 feet deep, making it the deepest lake in the US.

volcano graphic

Crater Lake Formation. National Park Service.

I needed to do a recon for our workshop at Crater Lake next summer, so in mid-July I hit the road for Oregon. I hadn't been to Crater Lake since the trip for my digital national parks project back in 1995. A re-visit was long overdue and I had the pleasure of meeting up with my good friend Stuart Worley who is helping organize the Crater Lake/Eclipse workshop in 2017.

In my drive north from San Francisco, my most beloved landform along the way is the 14,179 foot volcano of Mt. Shasta. Shasta last erupted in 1786 and is still considered potentially active. I always think of it as the crown of northern California. Many people consider it a deeply spiritual place. I certainly find it monumental.

I love driving along, seeing Shasta in the misty distance to the north, then with little effort glancing to the right to see Mt. Lassen rising to the east. At that point, the Sacramento Valley is closing up and the Cascades are loom ahead. As the local mountain rise driving north, Shasta gets hidden in the nearby topography, but I look for glimpses of it through the mountains as I get close. When a full view appears, it is enormous. The photograph I made last year flying up to Portland remains a favorite of mine.


Last Light on Mt. Shasta. CA. 2016.
Canon 5DSr..


crater lake

Sunset on Crater Lake, OR. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

Being a single body of water with a single rim road, most visitors see the same views and making photographs of Crater Lake that feel at all fresh is not easy. The same views turn up over and over again. The scale is very hard to depict. Rocky mountains with trees and empty blue summer skies make the wonder of the place seem more ordinary when photographed.

That is not the place I see with my eyes, nor the space I feel when standing on the rim. But those feelings did not easily translate into photographs. I did feel ever more drawn in on this trip and felt like I came away with a much greater sensitivity to some of its nuance.



Sunlight Pattern. Crater Light. 2016.
Canon 1Dx II.

Light reflecting on the water, both from sun and moon, was often more compelling than the larger view. The expanse of the reflective surface, the sense of depth, the currents and counter currents kept changing the patterns. The moonlight reflections (as in the title photo at top) felt otherworldly.


teneya lake

Cliff Patterns. Llalo Rock, Crater Lake. 2016.
Canon 1Dx II.

We felt compelled to get down to the water. At Crater Lake, that is not easy. The Wizard Island cruise first took us down a 700 foot descent from the rim on the Cleetwood Cove Trail to the tour boat dock. The lake water seemed even bluer, which was hard to believe. The ride out to the island gave me an even better sense of the enormity of the lake.

On the Lake. Fast Water, Slow Mountains. 2016.
iphone video.

Wizard Island is a volcanic dome in the lake, one of two major domes, but the only one that crests the surface. It is rock, trees, and turquoise shoreline. There are only a few trails, one to the top of the dome, the other partially circumnavigating the island.

...continued top of right column of the essay


Pier, Wizard Island. Crater Lake. 2016.
Canon 1Dx II.

The turquoise water along the shallows surrounding Wizard Island glows against the island's lava boulders and the lake's well known remarkable blue water. Even at the height of summer, the water was cold, and remarkably clear.

Walking on the boulder strewn island, it would be easy to feel a sense of chaos and upheaval, but I felt the opposite, a kind of inexplicable tranquility there. Perhaps it was the solitude, the sense of being small so far below the cliffs of the crater 2000 feet above. I wasn't sure. I noticed the feeling, and it felt good.


crater lake

Crater Lake Ash Cliffs and Wizard Island.. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

As this trip was designed to re-explore sites for next year's workshop, I revisited the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument with its Painted Hills.

It is strange how clearly I remember photographing there in 1987, the heat, the watercolor sketch pad, the wonder at the fleshy patterns. It was one of those places, so much earlier in my career, where the wonder of pastel color filled my mind. It still does.

It remains a very impressive place with unreal abstract possibilities abounding.


Hills and Clouds. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. 2016.
Canon 1Dx II.


The southern Oregon Coast has long fascinated me, and as it turns out I really haven't been through there since 1978. So I made a special effort to visit on this trip.

I remember the dunes near Coos Bay holding much of my attention on that trip so long ago. It was about the same time as my first trips to Death Valley. There were many dune photographs from the time, almost all black and white.



Foggy Forest. Cape Perpetua, OR. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

I met up with my good friend Joshua Green, who moved to Florence Oregon a decade ago. Joshua runs his business from there, The Archives, digitizing, caring for, and marketing his father Milton Green's celebrity photographs from the 1950s and 60s.

It was great to see the setup at The Archives and see what Josh was up to. Florence seems too remote in my mind, but is only 45 miles from Eugene. Joshua seems very happy to have left the big city for a small town. I understand the instinct.



Grassy Dunes. South Jetty. Florence, OR. 2016.
Canon 1Dx II.

Recently at SJ Photo

Meanwhile, back home in Pacifica, the whales keep coming, although in slightly fewer numbers than in May and June.


Whale Tail at Sunset. Pacifica, CA. 2016.
Canon 1Dx II.

With so many whales being hit by ships, every time I see a whale and one of the huge cargo ships that are constantly coming into San Francisco Bay. I do take note and see what I can record of the two of them together.


Humpback Whale Blow and Cargo Ship. Gulf of the Farallon. Pacifica, CA 2016.
Canon 1Dx II.

corporate flag

Full Moon over SFO with Airplane Constellations. 2016.
Canon 1Ds III.

I was intrigued by the solstice moon and choose to watch it rise from Skyline Drive above my home in Pacifica. From that perspective, the moon rose over San Francisco Airport. I didn't anticipate the view and how important all of the landing planes would be in the resulting photographs. They ended up seeming like dancing, evolving constellations.

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Consulting Programs, Speaking and Exhibition 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  few months..

  • Rockport Maine. October 2-8, 2016
  • Central Oregon Community College. Saturday November 12th.
  • Napa College. November 17th.
  • Pacifica: At the Gallery
    Come by and talk with Steve about his ongoing Exhibitions of work on display

Canon Sponsors Steve to speak at Universities, Colleges, Photo Groups and various events around the country. If you would like more information on arranging for Steve to do a Canon sponsored event, go to: Canon SJ EOL talk



California: The Art of Water
July 13–November 28, 2016.
Group Exhibition. Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Group Exhibition.


Steve Lecturing at Photo Plus. New York City. October 2014.

Custom Workshop Scheduling

People often want to take workshops and the dates just don't match up with their schedules. Sometimes they watch the newsletter and webpage for years for their interest, free time and the workshop to all coincide. We've decided to be proactive in creating a forum for potential students to tell us what you need and when you can take a class. Please email us with workshop ideas and suggestions.

More formally, we are experimenting with a workshop poll to determine when interested people can make particular workshops they really want to take.

Currently we have up a few workshops to experiment:

Workshop Polls Homepage

DSLR Film Copying with my Canon 5DSr


Like many of you, I have thousands of photographs made long before digital photography came along. And also like many of you, I want that archive digitized for convenience and contemporary use. Film scanners are getting ever more rare, and they have generally been very slow. The idea of a quick single exposure to digitize my 35mm work is very exciting.

Last year, I was very anxious to get the Canon 5DSr 50mp camera, and have switched most of my normal 35mm format use to it exclusively. The resolution is very impressive, and for my landscape and aerial work it has been an amazing camera.

But there was another use I've been wanting to try, direct slide copying into the camera, on a copy stand, with a 1:1 macro lens and an even light source. I finally got around to trying an improvised set up last week and I am very please with the results.

I am taking the time to do a live view manual focus on the grain of every slide with my Hoodman Loop. This gives me a level of confidence that I like, but slows the process down.

I have to work a little more on getting a full spectrum light source and little jigs for mounted slides and film. In the meantime, the current set up copies black and white negatives really well.

More to come...


snow and oaks

Snow and Oaks. Tehatchapi Pass. Kern County, CA. 1979.

Kodak Kodachrome film, copied with Canon 5DSr in 2016.


This scene from 1979 is one of my early favorite photographs. As it was a 35mm slide, prints made from the transparency never satisfied me, not liking the look of Cibachrome nor Kodak's Type R papers. I could have made an inter-negative and a C print, but now on my Hahnemühle Museum Etching paper it takes on a whole new life.

As I said here last month, by copying with the Canon 5DSr and a good 1:1 macro lens, I'm able to bring so much work back into my life that I was unlikely to scan individually. I decided to leave the Tutorial in place for this month's News in case you missed it.


Previous Tutorial and Technique Posts

george harrison

George Harrison. Cow Palace, San Francisco. 1974.
Kodak Tri-X film, copied with Canon 5DSr 2016.

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Printed by Steve in his studio in very limited numbers on a color laser digital press


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National Park Color Note card Set
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12 cards/envelopes $20 set

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


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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



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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 August 7, 2016 . Mail comments to:
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