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Lunar Eclipse over Cottonwood Mountains.. Death Valley.2018.  Click to order a print. Upcoming Workshop Flora and Form March 22-24, 2018


Welcome to the February 2018 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

I'm in the middle of my Life Form exhibit Kickstarter Project, raising funds for framing, cutting matts, assembling frames and deepening captions. It will be a busy month ahead to launch this exhibit.


This month's View From Here column explores Death Valley, why we photograph and exhibit construction progress. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.


  • The biggest news is the opening of my Life Form Exhibition at the Viewpoint Gallery and Art Center in Sacramento  March 10, 2018 with a Lecture on March 11. We'll being sending out a separate notice.
  • 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.

    Flora and Form March 22-24, 2018. Have you ever visited a nursery or greenhouse, and thought about how great it would be to capture the beauty, color, line and form of an orchid, or unusual succulent that inspires you and preserve it in a photograph? Access can be hard, and using a tripod can be impossible and not allowed. Perhaps you hesitated because you felt the need for instructional help with the technical, aesthetic and compositional framework to make it happen. This workshop is designed to enable careful photography exploring the wonder and beauty of orchids and other-worldly flora.

    Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. April 14-16, 2018. Ansel Adams called Pt. Lobos "the greatest meeting of land and sea" on earth. It is truly an amazing combination of rock, surf, wildlife, changing light and abstraction...aqua surf, orange lichen, organic rock forms and waving sea palms. We'll walk the trails, wander the rocks, get lost in form and light.

    Seeing Beauty in Photography April 21, 2018

    Why do some images move us, and others leave us cold? What makes a good photograph? What makes us pick up the camera at a particular moment? What constitutes a beautiful print?

    Talking about Art is hard. There doesn't seem to be words to describe the motivations or reactions and there are too many words obfuscating meaning. Plain talk, real dreams and real passions are what drive us forward, sometimes irrationally, sometimes with a plan. Photography fits neatly into this long and confused history.These and other such inspirational and compositional questions will be discussed in this seminar on photographic composition. 

    Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. April 28-May 1, 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.

    Desert Light Photography Workshop. Palm Springs. May 6-10, 2018 A special workshop exploring the desert landscape at the 2018 Palm Springs Photo Festival. Attendees will make work together in the spectacular landscapes near Palm Springs and its environs. Stephen will share his love of the desert, exotic flora, desert vistas and wonderful boulder-strewn fields and hills. This workshop is about desert color, organic form and exploration. It is about quiet, and wind, sun, dawn and twilight, star-filled nights and solid photographic information. The light and color will be as much our subject as the land itself.

    From RAW to Print: A Digital Photography Bootcamp. June 4-8, 2018 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 our lab. Topics include practical experience with digital exposure, RAW processing, image editing, color management and printing.


Some of the Death Valley Workshop in Titus Canyon. January 2018.

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 original prints in 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 February 2018

red flower

Brush on Dune. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Brush on Dune. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

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

I never tire of walking through Death Valley's Sand Dunes. As with most trips, this dawn brought some new and evolving work.


Workshop Schedule

Flora and Form March 22-24, 2018
Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. April 14-16, 2018.
Seeing Beauty in Photography April 21, 2018
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on April 28-May 1, 2018
Desert Photography Workshop. Palm Springs. May 6-10, 2018
From RAW to Print: A Digital Photography Bootcamp. June 4-8, 2018


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


Speaking and Exhibition Events


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

March 10, 2018. Life Form. Viewpoint Gallery and Art Center. Sacramento.

Follow us onlinesjphoto twitter facebookfacebookgoogle+ bloggerblogger





Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley. 2018.
Canon 5DSr.

Radial converging lines, I love this place.


Purchase a print of this photograph


Clouds and Sun, Highway 101. 2018
Canon 5DSr


by Stephen Johnson

Exhibit Opening

Most of my attention is on preparing for the opening of my Life Form Exhibition at the Viewpoint Gallery and Art Center in Sacramento  March 10, 2018. It is filling the work days with framing, rechecking captions, building some promo materials and raising framing funds through the Exhibit Construction Kickstarter project. All is going well and my excitement at showing the work is growing daily. I'm proud of the work and delighted the Viewpoint Gallery has chosen to be the premier site.


Road Trip

My Death Valley workshop always takes me through a wide range of California landscapes. Just to get there, I drive south along the coast, cut inward down HWY 101 south through the Salinas Valley, turn east along HWY 46 past the James Dean crash site and over the hills to lonely west side of Kern County and the San Joaquin.

The journey then takes me through the home of western country music, oil and cotton, Bakersfield, then over the Tehatchapi with their oaks and complex railroad, past the winds farms, then drop into the Mojave desert.

No road trip ever has enough time. Every time I squeeze in a must do trip and cut out wandering, I regret it. This trip was no exception. Launching the Life Form
Construction Kickstarter Project
before and left, and meeting with the Viewpoint Gallery coordinator just after I returned. Of course, the morning after the workshop was a Lunar Eclipse.



Sunrise looking east from Dante's View. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R HDR.



Shadows and Ridgeline from Dante's View. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R


Most of the looking around was not wandering, but the planned itinerary of my Death Valley Workshop. I realized on the trip that this was likely my 32nd. workshop in Death Valley. The number seemed unbelievable. But then again, so is the place. It may hard for me to make photographs unrelated to what I have photographed before. But there is an endless fascination here, and it often takes a long time to see through early impressions and distill what feels essential. That seems to be an ongoing process.

When I first started to photograph is Yosemite, it was with a keen awareness of Ansel Adams work there. In a sense, I wish my first exploration had been without that knowledge. It is true though that those photographs Ansel made helped inspire me to photograph. It is also not surprising to me to realize that I never showed Ansel any of my Yosemite photographs. Inspiration, homage, and striking out on our own ground, all are part of this process of evolving into our vision. Hopefully that vision reflect the heartfelt aspirations that we slowly understand and evolve. Recognizing the photographs that do speak to your own heart is probably that greatest perceptive goal we can attain. Touching others is important, but we have find a way of letting our heart speak first.


pp gallery

Salt-flats. Amargosa River from Dante's View. Death Valley. 2018
Canon 5DSr


Every time I revisit the precipice of Dante's View, I am humbled by the space and wonder within site. Looking to the north is probably over 100 miles of valley, the south likely 75. The valley floor a mile below is the endless abstraction of the salt-flats of the old lake bad and the Amargosa River. I have made scores of photographs over the years of those salt-flats, and don't need to make more. But the sensuality and abstraction continue to be irresistible. Even if photographs I've already made have pleased me, the joy of seeing it in subtly different ways continues to make me get out the camera.


pp gallery

Artist's Drive. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R.


My first visit to Death Valley in 1978 impressed me in many ways. The vastness was certainly part of that lasting impression. The strangeness of our paved roads crossing that space, almost undulating over the rises and falls of the land, defining with a strange little geometric imposition the wild, unruly geography of millions of years.



Dry Wash. Artist's Drive. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R

I think I may have learned to photograph in Death Valley. The challenge of seeing simply amid such complexity, intuiting design, simplifying color, be seduced by winter's soft light, then being determined to rise to the challenge of bright sunlight and shows, all of these things forced me to grow.


purple flowers

Artist's Palette. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon 5DSr

It all has so much to do with intention. Why do we photograph? To make things. To have an excuse to be out and about in the world. For love of technology. For the fascination of holding a moment or memory. To witness wonder. To share the remarkableness of the world around us.

It is in that wonder, that witness to the remarkable that drives me forward. I want to record what I see, and try to find voice for my heart. I want to touch others hearts. I want to cause others to care.

Those desire create a rather straight line for me. I want my color photographs to represent what I saw. I want my black and white photographs to content literal but abstract. For me, as photographs, both need to be what was there, what I saw, what seduced me into making a photograph.


purple flowers

Artists Palette. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon 5DSr


This photographic sojourn is a never-ending journey for me. It is the lust to wander, the drive to understand, the compulsion to feel, the drive to share and move others. These are my photographic motivations and inspirations.



Don't forget to Check out our next workshops

Next Studio Workshop

Flora and Form
March 22-24, 2018


Next Field Workshop

Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur.
April 14-16, 2018.






...continued top of right column of the essay

titus canyon

Entrance to Titus Canyon. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R.


Death Valley is just one place, of so many, that have touched me. As I occasionally look back over these last 40 years of work, so many memories are jogged by the photographs, and so many photographs brought to mind by the memories. It all leaves a much richer sense of my life than would otherwise still be with me. The images often make real, vague images of the past. I enjoy that give and take between mind and image.



Badwater Salt Flats..2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R HDR.


Walking out onto the salt flats is an otherworldly experience. The space, the scent of salt in the air, the delicate crunch of the salt plain.


moon and mountains

Moon over Amargosa Mountains looking up to Dante's View. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R


I was playing with the salt flats and bright sun as HDR files, and exploring time-lapse. Then, of course, the moon popped up over the mountains and broke that idea off. The moon seems so perfectly round above ragged rocky mountains.



Successive Walls of Titus Canyon. 2018.
Canon 5DSr


Titus Canyon is a parade of geologic wonder. I think my next workshop here will devote a whole day to this place. There is so much here that the drive through always seems rushed. It is a place you could stop every few hundred feet.



Uplift rising to the Light. Titus Canyon, Death Valley. 2018.
Canon 5Dsr


Can stone actually glow. It can in Titus Canyon.



Fleshy Hills, Zabriski Point. Death Valley. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R.


color profile

Contrails shading Sunset sky. Pacifica. 2018.
Canon 5DSr


Any workshop ending has its own bit of sadness after forming our little workshop family. The drive home from Death Valley is about 9 hours for me, which is always challenging. But coming home the Pacific is comforting in ways it is hard to describe. Living next to the sea for almost 33 years has made a bond between the ocean and with whatever it is that is essential about Steve.


At Stephen Johnson Photography

Most of my attention at this point is preparing for the Life Form show in March. Ordering frames, cutting down matt board, getting help with the 8-ply overmatts and with assembling the frames.



Steve Finishing a matt for his upcoming "Life Form" show. 2018.
Canon 5DSr


Steve and Carl Schwab assembling a frame for his upcoming "Life Form" show. 2018.
Canon 5DSr


Free Stuff

Last summer we 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.

We've had a few takers, but more are left. Take Advantage.

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

We're open by appointment. To find us, use our map online at:

Google Map to Studio
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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 February 12, 2018 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2017, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide