sj news logosf

Acadia Forest. Maine. 2011. Canon 1Ds Mark III. See our next field workshop: San Francisco Digitally Workshop July 16-17.

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

Steve is just back from a very full two weeks teaching in Maine Media Workshops. It was a deep plunge into photography, video, people and ideas and this month's View From Here column reflects on those experiences along the way.

In the studio this week we started a brand new Video Q&A with Steve. Our staff was able to ask Steve photographic questions and he gave detailed answers to each of them.  Send in your own questions and our next video day in the studio we will put your question in the queue for future sessions.

On the workshops front, we are excited to announce a brand new workshop coming up this summer, visiting some of the classic landscapes of eastern California, High and Eastern: A High Sierra, Owens Valley, and White Mountains Workshop August 21-27, 2011. We have a one-day $400 discount running on the class if you register on July 21, 2011.

July is busy for us at the studio with many workshops on the calendar.  Our San Francisco Digitally weekend workshop runs July 15-16, exploring some of San Francisco's most visually interesting areas.

The summer 5 day RAW to Print Summer Digital Bootcamp is now running a second session July 25-29 and the new Advanced Fine-Art Print Hands-on printing refinement class still has space, July 22-28.

The Mono Lake Workshop follows October 8-11 with the Death Valley in Winter Workshop starting the new year running January 7-10, 2012 .

There is one scholarship spot in each of these classes.

We are really looking forward to our trip exploring southern China, The China Guangxi Landforms Photography Workshop for mid-November and the proposed wondrous Galapagos Photography Expedition in March.

Our new Virtual Online Consulting Program continues this month with only a few slots available. This new 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.

In order to help make sense of where a particular workshop fits into our overall program, we have added a Digital Photography Curricula page to our website.

This month's Tutorial is taken from a video of my field workshop introduction at Acadia National Park in late June.

We hope you can come by the gallery and see the show, 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.


Workshop Testimonials



Hull Reflections. Camden Harbor. Maine. 2011

Reflections on Boat Hull. Camden, Maine

Wandering the Camden Harbor during my Maine Media Workshops Vision and Craft Workshop. Join us if you can on our San Francisco Digitally Workshop July 16-17


maine sky

Sky over Maine. 2011
Canon 1Ds III
11x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

The upside of being on the road so much is the view of the earth from the airplane window. Although I get very tired of airports, security and general travel hassles, the view is often amazing.

Here is another of the many wonders I've seen from the sky, this as I was coming into land at Portland Maine Airport amid broken clouds, sunset and showers.

Follow us online

sjphoto twitter facebookwordprss


2011 Stephen Johnson Workshops and Event Calendar
San Francisco Digitally
July 16-17, 2011
The Advanced Fine Art Print
July 18-22, 2011
RAW to Print: Summer Digital Bootcamp
second session added July 25-29, 2011
High and Eastern: A High Sierra, Owens Valley, and White Mountains Workshop
August 21-27, 2011
Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra
October 8-11, 2011
Guangxi China
November 7-19, 2011
Death Valley in Winter
January 7-10, 2012







Class Photo, Vision and Craft. Maine 2011.


Two Weeks at the Maine Media Workshops

As I flew off to my annual sojourn to Maine, I was lost in thought with the challenges of keeping things moving forward in this difficult economy. However, a plane flight forces me into a different pace, reading for the pure pleasure of it, naps at will, the parade of America moving through my ever-present window seat view.

After a few hours, I was in quite another state of mind, excited about a new project I was detailing as we flew, much more in the immediate present of the landscape below, rising to the adventure of new people and unknown experiences that any trip brings.

This trip was no exception to likely interesting experiences. On being picked up at the Portland Maine Airport, I met an LA-based Argentinean filmmaker coming to study at the workshops for two weeks, Florencia Davidzon. It turns out that since a recent career switch, she has already made some moving short films, particularly moving was one made in Uganda and a new one on an LA Homeless Center's client dignity.

We hung out a bit, at the end of my stay she needed a portrait for a film festival entry which I was glad to do for her. It's good for all of us in the arts to lend support where we can.


My classes also had a rich mixture of students, two Americans teaching high school abroad among them, one in Singapore and one in the United Arab Emirates. The photographs they brought deepened our look at the world and I think the work we did together strengthened their commitment to do even more. Another student was from Uruguay and came with a little GoCam video camera that produced some fun videos for the week, some with the camera mounted by suction cup on the van's roof as we drove through Acadia National Park. Some beautiful bird shots became part of the class due to a student from Florida who has found a wonderful site with alligators and birds in abundance.

We enjoyed a great field trip to Acadia National Park and once again went the see the visual wonderland of Andy Swift's Firefly fire engine restorations.

In the second week at the workshops, the class concentrated on printing. It was great to have the time to really work with people on some carefully crafted prints. We took a field trip to see the Paul Caponigro show (see right column) south in Rockland on the day I introduced digital black and white printing. Paul's black and white prints served as a great point of departure for our Black and White afternoon.

On the black and white conversion lecture that afternoon, I used a photograph made just the week before at Jordan Pond in Acadia. This proved useful to demonstrate the possibility of selective conversion of different colors in the original to custom black and white renditions.


Black and White Selective Conversion. Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park. Maine. 2011.

The Workshops shot a video of me and my good friend and excellent teacher Bobbi Lane talking about our experiences during the week, which is now online.

The video was shot with 2 Canon 5D IIs with a wired and wireless mike and a separate digital audio recorder.

This Week at the Workshops: 6/19 - 6/25 from Maine Media Workshops + College on Vimeo.

This trip, like so many others, reminded me of what a privilege it is to teach, to try to make a difference for people's passions. And going to Maine every summer has become a wonderful part of my summers. Good people, working hard to do good work at the Maine Media workshops.

...continued top of right column


Slide Show. week One Maine Media Workshops. 2011.

Walking around Rockland Maine after seeing a wonderful exhibit by one of my photographic heroes, Paul Caponigro, we encountered some young folks hanging out, reminding me of a classic Paul Strand photograph.

So I walked up to them and asked if I could make a photograph. They were not only fine with the photo, but it once again added to the experience of human interaction because of what we see. And a much better image than any attempt to be secretive about making the photograph..


Hanging Out. Rockland Maine. 2011.

Speaking of Paul Caponirgo, the current show at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland Maine is superb. Walking the exhibition, it was clear to me once again why Paul's work so inspired me so long ago. There is a grace and emotion in his work that I rarely see in art. He is truly a gifted and sensitive soul.

Many of Paul's more recent photographs are exquisite still-life's done with a wonderful sensitivity to form and texture. Seeing these photographs gave me a needed kick to again start exploring the many found objects collecting on my shelves. Many of these objects truly are treasures, and many deserve the attention of a passionate camera.

Photoshop Bodywork Discouraged By American Medical Association

On another note entirely, since the early days of digital imaging, I've maintained that photography's real value was in the truth a photograph could tell. Many people mourned the advent of digital imaging because of the ease of image manipulation. Of course, it is not the software or digital originals to blame for deception, it is photographers and retouchers with intent to deceive and monied interests with a motive to profit from the deception, to sell sex, political agendas or a variety of other products and services.

Now the American Medical Association has jumped in to publicly denounce the role image manipulation has taken in shaping our expectations of bodily appearance and health, particularly for young people.


Advertisers commonly alter photographs to enhance the appearance of models' bodies, and such alterations can contribute to unrealistic expectations of appropriate body image especially among impressionable children and adolescents.

-AMA Journal

Huffington Post Article



Field Workshop Introduction

Transcript of Field Workshop Introduction Video:

Photographically, the big scenes are seductive because they sort of sum up the place. They’re also probably the quickest path toward making a boring photograph.

That doesn't mean that you don’t take the big scenes, because we all like remembering where we were. We all like the postcards, the “we were there” pictures, those sorts of things.

But if you start to look at some of the smaller scenes, whether it’s the surf on the rocks and all of the plant life that is surviving in the tidal zone, the fallen trees making a kind of sculpture over the rocks, or whether it is the form of the rock itself, any clues that you decide to give as to location and scale are discretionary. You don’t have to tell a story that places any of this in space or time, that is up to you.

What I would really encourage you to do is to make the visual design of whatever you are looking at be the overriding consideration in terms of what you make a photograph of. But even then there is another issue out here. Because we may be looking at some rocks and say “wow that’s a really neat pattern,” But half of the pattern is formed in our mind from what we can barely perceive as there.

It is not an overtly visual thing; it’s as much an intellectual perception of a fracture as it is a visual manifestation of that fracture. Out here, the shade is as important as the rock. The shapes that the shadows make are as important as the shapes the rocks themselves make, or perhaps even more so to say, that sunlight and shade really do define the nature of the photograph.

After all, we are not getting the rock on the sensor, we are getting light and dark. We are writing with light, and you have to keep that in mind. Distance doesn't matter to the camera except where it’s going to be sharp or not, what matters is your sense of what you can see in a 2 dimensional representation of the light. And that may mean something small, something large, but overriding that you have to decide that the balance of the light and dark in the frame is giving you the design and the kind of emotional response to the landscape that you have in mind.


Steve leading a Field Trip with Maine Media Workshop: "Vision and Craft: Perfecting the Photographic Image."
Video by Reid Elem

Often times you've got to almost strip away your intellect from imposing words, descriptions and conclusions, and try to suspend that logical and rational input, and just look.

When you can, close an eye because that will remove your stereo vision and depth perception that you may have been relying on to think there is a photograph, as it disappears the photograph can also disappear. Sometimes it can also help to just squint your eye a little bit, that throws your image out of focus for your eye and you are able to see the patterns of light and dark easier.

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

Studio Lab Rental

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

Map to studio
Studio directions and site layout.


We've sent you this newsletter because, at some point, you told us you were interested in hearing from us.

If you'd like to unsubscribe, change your email address, or give us comments about the newsletter, please send a note to

To subscribe to the sjphoto-news mailing list

To communicate with us regarding the list, email:

Newsletter Archive


Home | Fine Art Prints | Products | Workshops | Announcements | Online Gallery
Consulting Services | Contact Info | Site Index | Related Web | Mailing List

matting video

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

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gallery Hours are by Appointment.

Last updated on July 9, 2011 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2011, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide