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River and Hills. Iceland. 2009. Canon 1Ds Mark III

Welcome to the January 2011 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.

My new exhibit Exquisite Earth continues to be on display through Feb. 28, 2011. Some perspectives on the process is explored in this month's View From Here essay and the posted videos.

In addition, we have some new workshops, Photoshop Selections/Editing this month, Fine Art Printing and Yosemite in Winter in February, Color Management and Highway One in March, with one scholarship spot in each.

We hope you'll check out our new set of National Park Notecards and a special sale of Vintage Prints we've highlighted again this month.

This month's Tutorial is on Chromatic Aberration.

Vintage Prints Sale


Exquisite Earth Exhibition


Park Notecards


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FEATURED PRINT for January 2011

Cliffs and Snow. Yosemite. 2010
Canon 1Ds III
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each Purchase this print.

Looking up at the cliffs below Glacier Point from Yosemite Valley on last years Yosemite in Winter workshop.

2011 Workshops and Event Calendar
Photographers & Photoshop Series: Selections, Adjustment Layers, Tone and Color
January 22-23, 2011
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands on
February 5-8, 2011

Niagara Frontier Regional Camera Clubs 50th Anniversary Convention
Stephen Johnson Keynote
February 25-27, 2011. Niagara Falls
Conference Center in Niagara Falls, NY.

Yosemite in Winter
February 12-14, 2011
Color Management in a Day
March 5, 2011
Highway One San Mateo Coast
March 12-13, 2011
Photoshop Straight and True
April 2-3, 2011
In Planning: China April 2011
San Francisco Digitally
June 4-5, 2011

RAW to Print: Summer Digital Bootcamp
July 11-15, 2011

Workshop Testimonials


Glacial Dome, Iceland. 2009


Exquisite Earth : A Photographic Exhibition Constructed and Open

The show is up, the Opening a good success, a few weeks have gone by and I continue to be pleased as I walk the hall of the Exquisite Earth installation. It might be that it doesn't get any better than that.

As we now try to document the Exquisite Earth show, edit video of the opening, and continue efforts to let people know it is here, it now seems like a completely different entity than when it was in creation. And it is. This Exhibition is now a business as well as an artistic statement. Now the value of having created this show is measured by exposure, income and still most importantly by viewers being moved. And of course how it drives me forward.

These photographs are now fixed renditions of my experience. The distance from the creation of the prints is now sufficient to see the photographs as separate from their making. Now they are jewels of the earth and process, still mostly unbelievable, even to me, even with my eye behind the camera for each exposure. The detail, real color, the re-creation of my visual experience, these are the qualities that make my heart warm and give me the satisfaction of creation.

The moments remain magic and have moved back into the realm of feeling like I couldn't have had anything to do with this work, it is beyond my capabilities of seeing or creation. A little distance and the work moves beyond me, quickly. It sounds full of ego or pride to say it's too good to be from my hand, but mine are such imperfect hands. I think it is really that curious mixture of asking much of ourselves, trying so hard to reach high, and even when the reach is far less than perfect, it can be rewarding to a degree that pushes us forward, into more work, harder work, more risk, more heart, more soul poured into the art. Satisfaction, seduction and a big kick in the butt to do more work.

Maybe this is how we keep working. Driving ourselves to follow our creative compulsions and asking more than is reasonable. Reaching part of that distance feels great, as we forget just how hard it was and we are amazed that we could have done it at all, feeling like it would be impossible to ever match the same level, then driving yourself to prove it again, at least to yourself.

I continue to be humbled by what I've been privileged to see as I've wandered this planet and now put on these walls. It feels like a touch of wonder.

A Virtual Walk down the Gallery. QuickTime pano of Exquisite Earth Installation East Wall (photos are digitally tipped-in).

A Virtual Walk down the Gallery. QuickTime pano of Exquisite Earth Installation West Wall (photos are digitally tipped-in).

Of course one of the fundamental and ongoing issues is how do we get people to see the work? My studio and gallery may be in an Art Center, and near one of the great cities of the world, San Francisco, but street traffic is low, and visitation has to be intentional. Setting up shop in a more commercial urban or tourist center is not a goal for me.

We have to reach out for the work to be seen. Letting people know it is here via the internet, scheduling open gallery days and evenings when we can be here beyond normal work hours, and a show closing event as we ready the next exhibition may all be worth doing.

Extended Gallery Hours:

Thursday February 3, 2011 7-10pm
Saturday February 5, 2011 12-5pm


A special thanks to my assistants Elizabeth Bredall and Emma Simmons for their help with the exhibit. And to my friends and former students Darin Steinberg and Carl Schwab.

...continued top of right column


Video of Opening December 10, 2010 by Tom Adams.

A Video Record

I asked my friend videographer Tom Adams to make a video of the exhibition opening, including the 15 minute talk, the conversations, the questions and the repartee. Linked above is our first take on an edit of the the evening's events, concentrating here mostly on excerpts from my talk, later to come an expanded version including discussions of the photographs and other conversations.

talk talk

Building An Exhibit and an Experience by Emma Simmons

Many or most of us have been to art exhibits.  Some of us have had our own work as a part of an exhibit, but for me, it wasn't until I was working side by side with Steve for his Exquisite Earth exhibit where I realized all of the details and intricacies that go into showing your own work.  With limited time and an abundance of absolutely stunning images that fit the theme Exquisite Earth, each day leading up to the exhibit had its own challenge. 

Decisions such as which pen or pencil to use to sign the prints, the placement and spacing between hanging the photographs, to which images would actually make it into the exhibit, were made in the days leading up to the opening. Helping Steve with this exhibit from the initial ideas to critiquing the show, I felt rewarded in his trust for the opinion of us helping with his show.  The hallway was lined with possible candidates to be hung on the wall and the question kept rolling through my mind "how do you show one piece and not the other?" 

It wasn't until we had everything printed and we were rearranging the photographs that it all worked out like a puzzle, everything perfectly fitting.  Some images worked exceptionally well with another image hung directly above or beside it, others were complimented on their own from places that still continue to amaze me, no matter how many times i have looked at the image on screen, by proofs or physically hanging on Steve's gallery wall, truly an Exquisite Earth.





A few quotes from the evening:

“Every idea you have is a blind spot that keeps you from seeing”  Bill Atkinson

"I do appreciate your discussions about what reality is. It's going to make me re-think certain things about shooting" -visitor

"you did ok Dad"  Matt Johnson

Gallery Guide


Chromatic Aberration

(excerpt from the book Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography unreleased revised electronic version)

chromatic aberration

Chromatic Aberration is the failure of a lens to be able to focus different wavelengths of light at the same place in space on the sensor or film. Red, green and blue look different because they are different energy levels, different wavelengths and literally produce different sized images on the focal plane. A lens can only focus in one place at a time and most of our focusing systems are designed to focus on green, the middle energy wavelength between the red and blue. This inevitably leaves both red and blue slightly out of focus while rendering the green the sharpest.

Modern lenses are designed to try to compensate for this problem by special optical designs and lens coatings. A very low Chromatic Aberration lens is called apo-chromatic, but can still suffer from the problem. Wide-angles tend to have the worst Chromatic Aberration.

This problem can be seen as colored rings around detail, particularly at the edges of an image. In the days of film, there was really no way to post-treat this problem. Modern RAW processors have a color plane re-alignment tool in Lens Correction that is feathered in from center of the image designed to line up these mis-registered color planes and reduce or eliminate the problem.

The RAW Lens Correction tools should always be used to correct this problem. It has normally been done manually by adjusting Red/Cyan Fringe or Blue/Yellow Fringe sliders.

In Hasselblad, Nikon and Canon dedicated software auto-chromatic aberration has been built-in for awhile, and now Photoshop CS5's Camera RAW and Lightroom 3 have this auto Chromatic Aberration built-in as well. The process involves checking the menus for your lens, selecting it, and inspecting the aligned results which happen automatically. If your lens is not on the list, there is a Adobe Lens Profile Creator utility from Adobe that can be downloaded to produce a correction table for your lens. These lens correction tables also correct for field distortion introduced by the optic.

gray acr

chrome fbad

Red/Cyan Fringe

chrome fixed

Red/Cyan Fringe Corrected

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 perfect Christmas 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.

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


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

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Studio directions and site layout.


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