Welcome to the February 2008 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter. As always, we hope you enjoy this edition and have moved into 2008 with grace and hope.

The winter and spring schedule is online, including Highway One in March, San Francisco in April and Ireland in June.

Due to many requests, a new section of our Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on Workshop has been added for February and is coming right up. We have also scheduled the new Digital Black and White Photography Hands-on from May 15-18, 2008

We are also starting a new program of letting people request the workshops they want. Email the Workshops Currently Building List so we can build a list of people and determine dates.

Great teaching, great facility.
What more could you need for the plunge into digital photography?

Dune at Dawn. Death Valley Workshop 2008.
Canon 1Ds Mark III.


Gallery Events

Making Better Pictures Lecture
Thursday February 28, 2008 from 7-10pm

Critique Session
February 27, 2008, 7-10pm

Featured Products

GrayCapsTM Digital gray card. The Digital gray card you will always have with you, even among 10,000 penguins.

February 2008
Rock Falls
Rock Falls. Grand Canyon. 1989
11x14 Pigment Print on Gelatin Rag paper
$195 each

Going down river in 1989 with Martin Litton and his wooden dorries. This side canyon has always stayed in my mind.

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 February 28. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by March 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.


The Impulse to Postcard

Photo paper has long come as ready-made postcards. As does inkjet. These provide a paper for ready to send memories, ready to illustrate vacations and travels. At one time, these personally-made postcards from afar were actually very substantial communication, the "video web pix" of their time. The purchased views were of some body else's experience, exaggeration or quaint blocks of hand-painted color on black and white before color photography and printing was easy.

Of course, you can buy postcards ready-made at almost any tourist attraction. Some photo "advisors" regularly recommend checking out the local postcards for sites to shoot––sites to shoot. They are right of course. Many even prefer these views to the real scene as the disparity is frequently great. Such differences are chalked up to the skill and deterrminaton of the photographers. That is sometimes true. In looking at the racks, something else is clear, heavy contrast, way over the top saturation and golden light are the rule. Even driving through the various park-urban tourist areas near parks where occasional photo galleries spring up, the same impression is garnered, drive-by saturation.

It is fair to ask why this hyperbole bothers me so much. I suppose it feels like such a trivialization of the real world that any notions of the real place have a hard time standing, being seen, being understood. Of course volume almost always triumphs over quiet. Perhaps it is weird to mourn the loss of nuance and subtlety where it is rarely seen anyway. But I do. Perhaps it is also simply a good opportunity for my own work aspirations to stand apart. But I also love community.

There is another dimension to this iconic hyperbole. People expect places to actually look like these "enhancements" and are often disappointed in the real. That is a real mind bender for me––expectations that places look like the exaggeration and oversimplification. If true, the obvious cultural implications about where we are and where we are likely to go does not leave me optimistic. Fortunately there are many forces at work, and I refuse to fall to pessimism.

Even more importantly, in the arts, naturalistic landscape photography becomes marginalized by default with such trivia dominating our perception of the endeavor. It puts much of our work into a catagory of simply "scenic" records for decor. This, as opposed to much fine landscape work of suburban sprawl, emply long exposures devoid of normality, or angst-ridden portrayals that rarely touch our species' connection to the natural world. Many such photographs speak eloquently to my fears and discomfort with the world we've made, rarely do they speak to my heart.

It also lets photographers ask less of themselves. Cranking saturation and working in golden light become universal imperatives. The unique and varied sensitivities of so many souls out there working get funneled into so much less than their hearts might aspire to. People struggle to find their visual voice. The instincts are there, the desire. Selection comes hard and craft takes time. I see this with students a lot, sensitivity seeking specific expression, a sense of meaning looking for manifestation, order, construct and physical existence.

There is an Impulse to Postcard. An object made into a verb, an impulse to hype up a 2D representation into something more, something more than visual, perhaps approaching more a memory of an experience. Sublimation through through exaggeration...substituting vivid colorfulness and scale for real experience and insight. It is an easy route, but ultimately well travelled.

I struggle with my own version of these issues all of the time. It gets tied up in the majesty and wonder before my eyes always reduced by the technology possible with a photograph. The isolation from surrounds, the holding of the scene, the holding of the print, the sharing all good, but still reductive––dramatically reductive, despite the photograph's inherent power of a real scene recorded.

There is no redemption for me in saturation and melodrama. I've already had far enough oversimplification. It is everywhere, from new age truisms to age old notions that govern so many of our life expectations. Music is better suited for me for my raw emotional expression and where a simple turn of phrase with the right melodic or electronic punch can drive home much of what I feel.

Order Now for a signed copy!

Professional Photographers of America 2007 Hot One Awards

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography

Book Reviews
Book Comments online

* Upcoming Workshops
We trust 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.

Request a Workshop

We are also starting a new program of letting people request the workshops they want. Check out the Workshops Currently Building List and help us build a list of workshops and people so we can then determine dates. See the workshops page for a list of previously offered classes that we would be happy to teach when we have enough people.

Fine-Art Digital Printing Hands-On
February 23-26, 2008
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.

Highway One and the San Mateo Coast
March 15-16, 2008

Optional extra day at Pt. Lobos March 17

The coastline of San Mateo County is one of the most beautiful stretches of land and sea anywhere. From eroded, rocky shorelines, to cliffs, long beaches, redwood forests and small towns, this coast is complex and varied. We'll spend the day roaming the coast and mountain roads, stopping at state parks, county parks and checking out the lunch options along the way.

The workshop will be a dynamic combination of a traditional landscape photography workshop while diving deep into the digital age. Technical and aesthetic considerations will be discussed in detail. Our concentration will be on controlling your camera's operation to achieve your desired technical results, while building composition and visual skills to make the photograph what you want it to be. Digital exposure and dynamic range, composition, emotion and amazement-all will be part of our 2-day excursion into the evolving world of digital photography.

Professional Image Editing
March 27-30, 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

San Francisco Digitally
April 5-6, 2008
plus Friday evening pre-meeting and
post workshop Critique
Optional extra day at Alcatraz

A two day digital photography workshop exploring some of San Francisco's most visually interesting areas. We'll spend time in the Presidio with its old forts and forests, downtown skyscraper cityscapes, the Palace of Fine Arts World's Fair remnants, Fort Point with its spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge, (and possibly the Marin Headlands) and the urban eden of Golden Gate Park. We will also take in the restored Cliff House and its historic Camera Obscura. Much time will be spent walking and looking, knowing we will be in the area for awhile, giving you the freedom to explore, but also keeping help nearby.

Digital Black and White Photography Hands-on: Scanning, Conversion and Printing
May 15-18, 2008

Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

Explore black and white photography in the digital age from file creation to print with a classical landscape photographer who comes from the world of large-format black and white.

Steve has maintained his deep love of black and white photography while leading the transition into digital photography. His digital black and white work dates back through 1992 with the Kodak DCS 200, the Leaf DCB and later through the BetterLight, Kodak dedicated BW cameras and the Foveon BW mode. Steve's use of custom Iris inks, gray inks for Epson printers and development work on the new HP Z3100s black and white modes shows a long-term interest in bringing BW into the mainstream digital world.

Ireland’s Spectacular West Coast
June 20-30, 2008

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 Achill Island. Along the way, participants will explore western Ireland's landscape with its rugged coast, lush greens, rocky islands, lake-filled valleys and remote castles.

Irish culture and history will also be part of this trip as we visit key locations and provide natural and human history discussions along the way. Some Gaelic language lessons and Irish folk arts performances might also be picked up on our travels along with the warmth and friendliness of the Irish people.

Personal Workshops and Art Consulting

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.


Photoshop for Photographers:The Basics
with Seán Duggan. May 3-4, 2008

Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery. Pacifica, California.

This two-day class is an introduction to Adobe Photoshop CS3 designed for photographers by a photographer.  Participants will be guided through the Photoshop interface and learn the basic tools, techniques and concepts used in the editing of photographic images. We will cover the basics of working with digital images with the aim of fostering a familiarity and comfort level that will serve as a strong foundation for further exploration with this powerful software. To enroll, email Sean: sean@seanduggan.com.

Topics include:

  • Essentials of the Photoshop Interface
  • Adobe Camera Raw Basics
  • Tonal Correction with Adjustment Layers
  • Dodging and Burning with Adjustment Layers
  • Working with Selections
  • Converting Color to Black & White
  • Spotting and Simple Retouching
  • Resizing  & Cropping
  • Sharpening

UPCOMING EVENTS with Stephen Johnson

Photoshop World

April 2-4, 2008 Orange County Convention Center South - Orlando, FL

The Digital Landscape: Santa Fe Workshops
April 21-25, 2008

mmw logo

Maine Media Workshops

Canon's Explorer of Light Photographer - Stephen Johnson
Photographer Lecture Series
March 10, 2008, 6:30 - 8:30 pm.

San Francisco City College
50 Phelan Avenue
San Francisco, CA

New England Camera Club Conference
Friday through Sunday, July 11 - 13, 2008
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA


Book Reviews
Book Comments online


Advice for Photographers: The Next Step
by Al Weber
2007. $12

Based on decades of teaching, Weber has collected and organized ideas and suggestions to aid those who would be photographers.

A 72-page field manual, measuring 6"x4", it will easily slip into your pack, purse, or pocket.


Printers I'm no longer using. Make offer. Must pick up.

  • Epson 1280
  • Epson 5500 (with lots of ink supplied)
  • Epson 9000 (dye inks and Lyson grayscale set included)
  • Epson 9500
  • Epson 10000

Printers being replaced:
  • Epson 2200 $300


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


  • Artwork Copying
  • Custom Printing
  • Custom Profiles
watercolor by Ralph Putzker


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 3/3/08. Mail comments to: info@sjphoto.com
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2008, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.