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Clouds and Sun. Pacific Ocean. 2012. Email to order a print. Next Workshop: From RAW to Print July 16-21, 2012.

Welcome to the July 2012 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

Driving into San Francisco last night we stopped at Treasure Island, the fog hanging just beyond the downtown skyline, reminding us just how amazing the sights of this planet are, human-made and natural, light and form, water, steel and the magic of night...

This month's View From Here column reflects on the last weeks of travel, teaching and photographing. We hope you enjoy reading it and perhaps will send us some comments. Our Tutorial this month discusses Low Light, Needed Depth, Low Noise.


The Summer Digital Bootcamp, From RAW to Print is coming right up July 16-21, 2012. This class has proven to be the perfect deep plunge into digital photography for many and there are a few spots left in the class.

The one-day seminar Introduction to Digital Photography:  Exposure, Composition & RAW runs on July 22, 2012.

A special individual opportunity to study printing in a graduate study setting with Steve has been added to this summer's schedule with our very intensive The Fine Print: A Week of Advanced Hands-on Printing Work with Steve July 23-27, 2012.

We've also added the second installment of the wonderful High and Eastern High Sierra, Owens Valley, and White Mountains Photography Workshop for August 19-25, 2012. This is a wonderfully rich and amazing landscape. We hope you can join on this 7 day trek.

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 announced last fall.

Our busy schedules and limited budgets often keep us from destination workshops or classes, 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 Google Blogger.

We hope you can come by the gallery and see the Exquisite Earth exhibition, 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.

Workshop Testimonials



San Francisco Skyline on Foggy Night. 2012.

San Francisco Skyline on Foggy Night. 2012
3.6x17 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

Driving into San Francisco last night we stopped at Treasure Island, the fog hanging just beyond the downtown skyline, reminding us just how amazing the sights of this planet are, human-made and natural, light and form, water, steel and the magic of night...

Stephen Johnson Workshops and Event Calendar
From RAW to Print July 16-20, 2012.
Introduction to Digital Photography:  Exposure, Composition & RAW
July 22, 2012
The Fine Print: A Week of Advanced Hands-on Printing Work with Steve
July 23-27, 2012
Photoshop CS6 and Photographers July 28-31, 2012
High and Eastern
A High Sierra, Owens Valley, and White Mountains Photography Workshop

August 19-25, 2012
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on September 8-11, 2012
Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra October 13-16, 2012
Death Valley in Winter (full moon) January 24-27, 2013

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Reflections, Camden Harbor, ME. 2012



...looking for design and abstract as demos for my class led to a photograph I was quite proud of...


Steve Lecturing at the George Eastman House Museum of Photography. June 2012.

by Stephen Johnson

A Full Few Weeks of Travel, Teaching and Plunges into Photo Technology and History

I've been on a bit of a whirlwind these past few weeks and been anxious to sit down and write about some of the experiences. Hopefully writing about them will sort them out, as the memories are already starting to run together and form non-linear associations that have more to do with inspirations than linear story telling.

The first stop on my recent trip was an honor of a lifetime, lecturing at the George Eastman House Museum in Rochester NY. It was a real high to be coming into such a prestigious institution to talk about my national parks work "With a New Eye."

The Introduction to the talk by Eastman House Director of Communications Eliza Kozlowski can be found here. We'll be working on the video of the full talk.

GEH-talk-intro  QuickTime link of the Introduction to Steve's Lecture at the George Eastman House. June 2012.

We shipped in a few big prints which were shown briefly at a Welcoming Reception at the Image City Gallery, then in the foyer of the theater at the Eastman House. A season record breaker for attendance gave me quite a boost as so many old friends from Kodak came by to say hello. I believe the talk went well and we will be preparing a video from the footage, slide show stills and the audio made by the Eastman House.


Image City Gallery Reception. Rochester, NY. June 2012.

After Rochester and the Eastman House talk, we drove across New York state through southern Vermont and New Hampshire to our two weeks of classes at the Maine Media Workshops in Rockport.


My annual two weeks of classes for the Maine Media Workshops were yet another pleasure of people and place. The first week was a field work and editing class, the second a printing class. A few people stayed for both, which is ideal. Although teaching all day for two weeks straight is a challenge, the friends I make and the work I get to see and aid continues to be a wonderful spinoff of the classes.

The first evening of the class we (my partner Fiona, friend and fellow instructor Bobbi Lane, her assistant Lena, and my student Bill Filip) were invited out on the Appledore, a local 86 foot schooner, for a sunset cruise which started out the two weeks with a real Maine coast immersion. We happened to be the only clients that evening and got to not only enjoy the sea and sunset, but also got to steer a bit.


Fiona Sailing the Appledore. Camden Maine. 2012..


Vision and Craft: Perfecting the Photograph Class. Maine Media Workshops. 2012..

My lecture at the workshops this year was a slide show of my Exquisite Earth 1 show set to music, Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. Although I did a short introduction and follow-up, this was quite a departure for me, as I rarely just show the work. It was refreshing and curiously gave me a different perspective on this emerging body of work.


Printing Photographic Beauty Class. Maine Media Workshops. 2012. Reid Elem.

The Maine Media Workshops experience is always such a great mixture of disciplines, ages and projects all going on simultaneously that it continues to be a rich and rewarding part of my summer.

...continued top of right column

postpile postpile

Left: Steve getting to hold one of the Hasselblad cameras like Neil Armstrong used to take the photograph above of Buzz Aldrin at the Apollo 11 landing site. The same design was used on every lunar landing through the final flight of Apollo 17.

Eastman House Archive

The art and technology collections of the Eastman House amazes me with every visit. This time we took the time to look at some of the historical processes collections, including some Daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes. Autochromes are always on my must see list as well and I saw my first  8x10 Autochrome on this trip. Many thanks to archivist Joe Struble for taking the time to show us so many beautiful pieces. I didn't know at the time that this experience would end up inspiring some work two weeks later in Maine.

There were a couple of special treats to this visit, Alfred Stieglitz's 8x10 Eastman View Camera given to the museum by Georgia O'Keefe (used for his Equivalences series and Georgia's Hands Portraits), Ansel Adam's first Brownie, and the specially designed Hasselblad 500EL made for the Apollo program and the moon landings.

The second week in Maine, my partner Fiona McDonnell (inspired by the collections we saw at the Eastman House) helped out with a Wet-Plate Collodian class and learned how to make tintype and wet-plate negatives from instructor Jill Enfield who ran a fine and inspiring class.


Birch Tree. Rockport Maine. Wet-plate Collodian Negative. Fiona McDonnell. 2012.

Fireworks and the 4th.


Like most of us, I love seeing fireworks, but once again this 4th of July, the scene I witnessed being out watching the fireworks was the photograph that stuck with me. It was the nearly full moon rising over the hills to the east of my studio with the broken clouds forming what seemed like a celestial nebula.


A few things I would like you to keep in mind...

We'll be going back to the eastern Sierra for a 7 day trek along its dramatic escarpment and into the White Mountains with their ancient Bristlecone pines. This is one of my favorite areas of California and allows me to link the high country of Yosemite to Mono Lake and the Owens Valley. The area is deeply embedded in my early years of landscape photography and often feels like a sojourn home.


White Mountains. 2011.

High and Eastern
A High Sierra, Owens Valley, and White Mountains Photography Workshop

August 19-25, 2012

Virtual Education: Our Virtual Consulting and Mentoring Program is working well. Readers of this Newsletter can still get a discount by mentioning this reference when you enroll.

Our One on One Program links you up with Steve at his bay area studio, or when he is on the road near you. Keep an eye on when Steve will be near your town.

Catch Steve Live: Steve will be speaking here and there around the country over the next few months, early August in MI. September in San Francisco and Napa, then October in New York.

  • Hope, Michigan

Summer Weekend of Photography and Digital Imaging
Southwestern Michigan Council of Camera Clubs
Hope College, Holland, MI
Saturday August 4, 2012
Workshop: 9-11am, Artist's Lecture: 7:30pm

  • San Francisco

Keynote at PSA International Conference of Photography
South San Francisco. September 20, 2012.

  • Napa Valley

Napa Valley College. September 14, 2012, 7pm
Performing Arts Center, Napa Valley College
2277 Napa-Vallejo Hwy.
Napa, Ca 94558

  • New York City

"12 Steps to Improve Your Digital Photography"
Friday, October 26th from 130 PM – 330 PM.

PhotoPlus. October 2012


Low Light, Needed Depth, Low Noise

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

On a field trip to the Richard Remsen's Foundry and Gallery in Rockport Maine two weeks ago, I remember working my way into serious work that seemed like a process that might be worth flushing out a little bit.

The class was visiting a place I had never been, and as such I wanted to assess the situation before I started hauling equipment in. Naturally I was there to help my students, so initially I just set my equipment down outside and wandered the site. It was clear we were being made very welcome and so the class started to explore. The light was often dim, the detail intriguing, with dust, metal, wood and tools everywhere.

It was one of those situations where space was tight, light was low and interesting collections of objects and form could be seen from almost everywhere.

At first I wandered and simply cranked up the ISO to be able to handle the low light. It soon became abundantly clear that only a serious approach with tripod and long exposure would have any chance of rendering the complexities of the scene and depth.

In other words, it was an opportunity, that done casually would be useless, and done right might be quite nice. So I did what I knew I should do, grabbed the tripod, the remote release, locked the mirror up, lowered the ISO and went for the long exposures at whatever aperture was needed for the depth of the scene. Of course, rather than guess, I tried to calculate the necessary depth, and use no smaller aperture than required.

The exposures were in the 30 second range, the aperture often f16 or f22, but I kept checking with every shot what I actually needed with near/far, rack the focus method of determining the ideal focusing point, guessing at the needed depth, then checking with the depth of field preview button and capture inspection.

It was another Maine Media Workshops outing with wonder and great curiosity.

Depth of Field Tutorial
Long Exposures Tutorial


Richardson Foundry. Camden ME. 2012

  • Tripod
  • Mirror lock up with Remote Release
  • Low ISO to drive exposure long rather than noise up (long exposure noise reduction on)
  • near/far, rack the focus method of determining the ideal focusing point
  • Needed Aperture estimate
  • Depth of Field Preview to check on depth
  • Image inspection by Zooming in on the Camera LCD
  • Night Work: a green laser can aid in focusing by giving you you a sharp point to focus on, or an ealrier-in-the-day infinity focus taped down on lens focus with blue painters tape.

Featured Posters  


Beautiful posters from Steve's National Parks work.

30x24 inches
Price $20.00

More Information

To order by credit card.



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 great 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

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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 July 26, 2012 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2012, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide