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Morning Light, Olympics from Bainbridge Island, WA. 2017. Canon 5DSr. Upcoming WorkshopImage Editing in Photoshop. December 9-10, 2017


Welcome to the December 2017 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

A speaking gig for Canon gave me a great opportunity to revisit and discover both Seattle and Bainbridge Island. Photographic exploration is a wonderful way of coming to know the earth.


This month's View From Here column wanders through my recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.


  • We are celebrating my new Pacifica book on Saturday December 16 from 2 to 6pm. Come on by, see the book and grab one of the 20 copies we'll have on hand. The book is a gathering of work from my Pacifica Calendar series over the last few years and other photographs I've made in the course of living here for 30 years. I'm happy to have Ben Pease's great trail map as part of our outreach to bring attention to the natural wonders of Pacifica.
  • 2018 Workshop Schedule is building with these and other great courses coming up. See what a great experience students have had on Steve's Workshops by exploring Workshop Testimonials.


    Image Editing in Photoshop. January 13-14, 2018. This is a great chance to explore digital photographic editing with Steve in his custom built digital lab. Full lab access and your own work station with 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 to help participants really understand the processes, and to work through difficult images with custom techniques building an intuitive path through an image's needs and possibilities.

    Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. January 20-23, 2018. 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 cotton papers, students learn from the digital pioneer how he obtains his impressive results. 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.

    Death Valley in Winter. January 27-30, 2018 (only a few places left) 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.

    Yosemite in Winter February 24-26, 2018. Winter in Yosemite Valley is a transformed world. Trees are wet and dark, the oaks are bare. The cliffs are blanketed with snow. Weather moves through in waves of clouds and mist. Ponds and river edges are frozen. There is usually snow on the valley floor. Visitors are dramatically fewer in number. Our three days together will likely be cold, but we will no doubt be warmed by the special beauty that winter brings to this grand valley and the camaraderie of this plunge into landscape photography.


Steve with the Fine Art Printing Workshop in early May 2017.

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 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

FEATURED PRINT December 2017


Fog on Milagra Ridge. GGNRA.. 2017.
Canon 5DSr

Fog on Miilagra Ridge GGNRA. 2017.
Canon EOS-5DSr

9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each.

Just after returning from Seattle, coming home over Sharp Park yet again yelided a great view of earth and sky.


Workshop Schedule

Image Editing in Photoshop January 13-14, 2018
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on January 20-23, 2018
Death Valley in Winter January 27-30, 2018
Yosemite in Winter February 24-26, 2018
Desert Photography Workshop. Palm Springs. May 6-10, 2018


Linda Mar Bay, just down the road from Stephen Johnson Photography.


Speaking and Exhibition Events


Installation. Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA Jan. 17, 2017 onward. Make Software Exhibit

Publication Party for my new Pacifica book on Saturday December 16, 2017 from 2-5pm.
Coming March 10, 2018. Life Form. Viewpoint Gallery. Sacramento.

Follow us onlinesjphoto twitter facebookfacebookgoogle+ bloggerblogger





Waterfront Apartments and Washington Mutual Tower. Seattle. WA.
Canon 5DSr. 2017

Fascination with the complexity of form and light and end the end, the bw version was better than the perfectly nice color rendtion.


Purchase a print of this photograph


seattle cranes

Dock Cranes. Seattle Waterfront. WA. 2017.

mossy treee

Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017
Canon 5DSr



by Stephen Johnson


A talk last month for the Seattle Mountaineers took me back to Seattle for the first time in many years. I was looking forward to wandering a bit, seeing some old friends, and making some new ones. My plan was to let the plan evolve.

A long time friend from Microsoft and a new State Senator were among the old friends I managed to spend time with. In both cases, so many years had passed that there was a lot to catch up on, but photography ran deep through the conversations in both cases, one expected, one a surprise. I continue to be intrigued by how universally the photographic instinct stretches across experiences. It can give focus to our interests like the love of sports, and it can also help transform rich visual experiences into emotional responses for things seen and felt. I was impressed by both friend's stories and the self identity photography helped them clarify.

The trip also gave me a chance to see Glazer's Photography new downtown store which was very well put together. We hope to conjure up some events there in 2018.

The talk went well, with a very gracious audience and some friends in attendance, two state senators in fact. The membership of the Seattle Mountaineers were friendly and seeming like minded to my own values, making me feel quite at home.

My original plan was to go over to Olympic National Park and revisit the Hoh Rain Forest after my talk. That idea got squashed a bit with a slightly sprained ankle. So, as always, I improvised.



Grasses. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017
Canon 5DSr


With my Life Form Series, I am always looking for botanical gardens or arboretums to visit. This trip gave me two different experiences, both cultivated, but with very different histories.

The Washington Park Arboretum is run by the University of Washington and feels like a man-made park, but with real emphasis on plants rather than play spaces. It includes a Japanese Garden and various areas of botanical groupings from Magnolias, to Maples, to Winter Gardens. My morning stroll in soft light took me to a few of those constructed environments.

The ground and leaves were wet, the sense of fecundity was everywhere. It was organized and planted, but didn't really seem so. I put on a manual focus lens, grabbed my tripod and just strolled. It was a great slow down, taking time down to the bare elements of curious wander. The air was still enough to do some focus-stacking and I took advantage of the opportunity. It was great to feel like there was nothing invested in the outcome but simply seeing and trying to live fully in those moments. Even when bringing craft to bear, it felt gentle and without any pressure. I want my photographic experiences to feel this way and was grateful for the time and quiet.


pp gallery

Bark. Japanese Gardens,. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017
Canon 5DSr

pp gallery

Grasses and Leaves. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017


There was almost a rain of fall color in the Arboretum, it seemed to be falling from everything around me. Certainly the maples were dramatic, but most of the color was yellows, oranges and brown. All were dripping from morning rain. It felt like season change, and enough tinge of winter to make it clear December was not far away.


pp gallery

Maple. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017.
Canon EOS 5DS R.



Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr

My strolls through the Arboretum were a great transition into slowing down, being an attentive observer, calm and in no hurry. I know I am moving into a good emotional space when I become aware of my breathing, the sound of my footsteps and the myriad of shapes, color and light before me. The air smelled of morning, green freshness and the musky hint of decay that is indistinguishable from fecundity.



Drying Leaves. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017
Canon 5DSr

I found even the dried and molding visually engaging. But then again, I always do. Life processes produce fascinating color and form, in birth, bud, full bloom and death. Mold can be as beautiful as flowers, sometimes much more strangely curious.


purple flowers

Brush and Purple Flowers. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr

Sometimes an illusion to chaos can produce it's own rhythm and design. A few times during the morning i was entranced by just such form, one almost monochromatically warm yellows and browns, the next a tawny fiber punctuated by lavender bursts.

As is often the case, more than once I saw potential in black and white and color versions of the scene. When design and form are strong, there is often mixed instincts about which way to go. That is particularly true when the color is also nice. It often comes down to gut instinct, which one feels right.


purple flowers

Trees.. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr

purple flowers

Trees. Washington Park Arboretum. Seattle, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr

As I walked around, the rest of the day started to take shape in my mind, some lunch then a ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island to see some more friends.

A vegan Thai restaurant turned out to be nearby which felt like a perfect cap to the morning. As a vegetarian, it is such pleasure to find a restaurant where I can have anything on the menu. The buffet almost made me giddy. It felt like a reward for the gentle morning.



Don't forget to Check out our next workshops

Next Studio Workshop

Image Editing in Photoshop.
January 13-14, 2018


Next Field Workshop

Death Valley in Winter
January 27-30, 2018


Hills. Zabriski Point. Death Valley. 2013.




...continued top of right column of the essay

seattle wheel needle

Seattle Great Wheel, Space Needle, Docks and Skyline. Seattle. 2017.
Canon EOS 5DS R.


The ferry ride across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island was a very unexpected visual treat. The light had been classically northwest for most of the morning, soft with some sunshine breaking through.

By the time I caught the 3:30 ferry, the short day was already bringing some afternoon low light. Just as we were leaving the dock, the light brightened to a soft gold that bathed the Seattle skyline in some lovely color. I had not expected to be making city photographs that day, but the light on the evolving architecture, reflections, docks and Mt. Rainier beyond proved quite engaging.

I had chosen my 100-400mm lens to use on deck and was pleased by the reach, but more than once chose to stitch narrow views together into wider takes. The city was receding too fast to be changing lenses back and forth. Of course, with that stitching came higher resolution files which are always nice to have.



Architecture Stack. Seattle. 2017.
Canon EOS 5DS R.


The multi-hued cityscape was a visual delight in the subdued warm light. There was a patina of yellow under a bluish cloud filtered sky. The older waterfront grew into a modern city above. It was quite beautiful.



Seattle. 2017.
Canon EOS 5DS R.

The wind on my face felt life-giving, particularly moving across the water. My mind jumped back to some Antarctic experiences, making me feel very lucky to have seen as much this planet as I have. The crossing gave way to an early dusk too soon, leaving just enough light to make it to my friend's new house and still look around.


ranier cranes

Dock Cranes and Mt. Rainier. Seattle. 2017.
Canon EOS 5DS R.


The next day my friends took me to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island and it proved to be another unanticipated great experience. It turns out a lumber magnate, Prentice Bloedel, evolved into a naturalist and left his estate behind as a nature preserve. Even knowing rain was coming, my friends suggested we go and I felt very at home in its seeming wild and manicured combinations.


color profile

Tree, Moss and Ferns. Bloedel Reserve. Bainbridge Island, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr


color profile

Rain on Leaves. Bloedel Reserve. Bainbridge Island, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr


autumn forest

Trees and Pond. Bloedel Reserve. Bainbridge Island, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr


The next morning brought an early rainbow over the overcast Olympic mountains to the west. My bedroom window looked out at the scene, so I was very lucky to able to ignore the lingering light rain and merely open the sliding glass door to a wonderful scene.

I didn't know at the time the sunlight would break through and shortly light up much of the range. But I did leave my tripod set up and was grateful for the emerging view and the foggy clouds waving across the nearer range below. The moving clouds did make me later wish I had made some video.


Morning Sun and Clouds on the Olympics. from Bainbridge Island, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr


The rainbow that drew me to the view and getting the camera set up was nice, but the photographs were not nearly as strong as when the sky cleared a bit and the mountains opened up.


acadia workshop

Rainbow and Clouds on the Olympics from Bainbridge Island, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr

A dramatic element does not necessarily make for a strong photograph, even if a rainbow. Sometimes then a question of editing comes into play. I can make almost anything dramatic in Photoshop. And lie.

In color, the realism of it generally drives me to render the photograph with the goal of imitating what I saw. I feel differently about black and white. Although I don't seek to make Ansel Adams like photographs, I easily confess to be inspired by Ansel's drama. A black and white rainbow might be a little underwhelming, but the sky, clouds and trees might be strong.

acadia workshop

Rainbow and Clouds on the Olympics from Bainbridge Island, WA. 2017.
Canon 5DSr

But then again, I do get surprised sometimes.

At Stephen Johnson Photography

pacifica book

Book Event

We are holding a Publication Party for my new Pacifica book on Saturday, December 16, 2017 from 2-5pm. There will be refreshments, a good holiday attitude and about 20 copies of the book on hand, additional copies will have to be ordered. It would be great if you could RSVP, and pre-order the book so we can try to have a copy reserved for you.

Free Stuff

We recently replaced the Epson 2400s in our lab with their new P600s and consequently have some printers to seed to photographers in need. We were also given some Epson Canvas to share. These are available for pick-up to those of you on my mailing list. Let me know of your interest. I do want to spread them out among a few people.

Epson Canvas rolls


Epson 2400 printers



please email your comments to us

The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop

Featured Products



New Exquisite Earth Exhibition Catalog

pacifica book


ee book pageee book page

The Exquisite Earth Exhibition Catalog

As I've been on a roll on fixing bodies of work into POD books, I decided before the Exquisite Earth show could come down for new upcoming show, I wanted to create a printed record. So, now available is the 56 page 11x17 wire bound book, 5 years of work from 2005 to 2010 traveling this wondrous planet.

  • Photographs from 2005-2010
  • 56 pages
  • 11x17 wire-bound book
  • $50

Preview and Order Here

New Pacifica Book

pacifica book



pacifica bookpacifica book

  • 74 pages
  • 11x17 wire-bound book
  • Pacifica Trail Map
  • 32 years in Pacifica
  • Drawn from 10 years of calendars
  • $75

Preview and Order Here


Pacifica Land Trust Trail Map

Pacifica Trail Map by Pease Maps special to the Pacifica Land Trust.

11" x 17" folded
(free shipping) proceeds go the Pacifica Land Trust, a non-profit corporation.

I'm proud of my 16 years on the board of the Pacifica Land Trust, and happy to have Ben Pease's great trail map as part of our outreach to bring attention to the natural wonders of Pacifica.


trail maptrail map


Gift Certificates for Prints and Workshops!

Emailed or shipped with beautiful gift note card.


To Purchase



gift certificate

Life Form Note cards

5x7 inches (now in stock)



Click to Purchase

12 image Note card set with envelopes featuring photographs from Steve's new Life Form work.

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


gift certificate

National Park Note cards

note card

National Park Color Note card 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.


gift certificate



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

Studio Lab Rental

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Studio directions and site layout.


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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 December 7, 2017 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2017, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide