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Foggy Isalnds off Bar Harbor. Acadia June 2009. Email to order a print. Next Workshop: Acadia National Park Workshop, June 22-23, 2013.

Welcome to the June 2013 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

Getting ready for summer trips, first to Maine, our most NE spot in the US, and near the end of summer to Alaska, our most NW state. There’s much new work, and so many interesting projects.  Life seems very full.

This month's View From Here column discusses New Work Explorations. We hope you find the column of value and will consider sending us some comments. Our Tutorial this month highlights our Matting and Framing video free view.


  • We just added a workshop in Maine to my annual trek there to teach at the Maine Media Workshops. We're doing an Acadia National Park Workshop on Saturday and Sunday June 22nd. and 23rd. for any of you who can be in the area.
  • Next installment of our new workshop: Flora and Form September 12-14, 2013. Shelldance Nursery and Stephen Johnson Photography Studios and Gallery...a great opportunity!
  • Southwest Journey Workshop September 17-28, 2013. Join us on a twelve-day trek through the visual wonderlands of southern Utah and northern Arizona. We'll visit Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Betatakin, Monument Valley and end up at Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The trip is designed to be a complete immersion in landscape photography and its digital evolution with the pioneer in digital landscape photography.


Hoodo Forest, Bryce Canyon. 1995.

  • New Workshop: Explore the Golden Gate region for two days of fieldwork on headlands, overlooks, the bridge and lighthouses September 7-8, 2013.

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 Google Blogger.

We hope you can come by the gallery and see the new Panoramic Prints we've added to 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



Sophrocattleya Orchid. Shelldance.. 2013.

Sophrocattleya Orchid. 2013
9x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

color and form on overdrive.


Stephen Johnson Workshops and Event Calendar
Acadia National Park. June 22-23, 2013  NEW!
Alaska's Parklands: August 5-17, 2013  NEW!
RAW to Print Summer Digital Bootcamp August 21-25, 2013
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on August 27-30, 2013
The Golden Gate September 7-8, 2013  NEW!
Flora and Form September 12-14, 2013  NEW!
Southwest Journey Workshop September 17-28, 2013
Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra October 12-15, 2013
Death Valley in Winter January 11-14, 2014
Speaking Events (see below)

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White Orchid. 2013.

by Stephen Johnson

New Work Explorations

Working through a new body of work is challenging. You are first struck by curiosity, then perhaps seduction. A wide range of other reactions can follow.

Early pleasures of feeling that a few successful images have been made can spur you on. The inspiration gives you energy to pore into more work, hopefully pushing limits and your own imagination. Riding this high, a lot of work can be accomplished in a fairly short period of time.

But then, a plateau of "Does this matter?" can hit you, bringing on another, entirely different process. The really hard work begins, the self-examination, the required dedication to keep pushing your own imagination. All the while we need to stay open to discovering new things, unintended and surprising consequences, meanders, and find a willingness to commit tons of time and materials.

As I push outward to new areas, I often don't know exactly where I'm going. An innate faith tends to take over, and as long as more exploration reveals more being seen, then I seem able to keep pushing the process. But self-doubt has always lingered nearby for me, doubting the value of what I do, even as I carry a undefeatable sense of purpose within. Sometimes that sense of purpose seems buried pretty deep, and has to be sought out, sometimes dredged, rather than feeling readily available.

Pulls between fascination/seduction and doubt/fatigue/faith do seem fairly common in creative pursuits, the arts particularly. Photography has its own "reality replication" challenges for uniqueness and insight. As I've mentioned many times, Ted Orland and David Bayles' "Art and Fear" is good book to pick up in times of artistic challenge.

Of course, the hardest thing in the arts seems often to be finding something to hold onto as a vehicle of expression, a style, a subject, or an approach–that conceptual grasp that shapes a body of work. Another way of saying it is that we are trying to be true to ourselves, and at the same time be unique and fresh. Our own work can easily seem repetitious and tired. Understandably. As we are making it, seeing it, getting immersed in it, even the new work becomes deeply familiar, as it comes from us. Intrigue and examination can strangely lead to a visual fatigue and premature notions of "been there, done that." There seems to be a slog through this process to get to the other side of new work, where the pride in the accomplishments come, but sometimes only after initial satisfactions turn to doubt and uncertainty.

Although self-doubt can be eviscerating, it may also be critical in self-examination that drives us to making the best art we can. It's a delicate balance. I've met people involved in the arts with seemingly little self doubt. Few of them have become friends, their art often uncompelling. For me, I find the self-doubt breeds the kind of hard questioning I need, the humility I need to work harder, and in the long run an even deeper sense of accomplishment.

Of course it does help if an early sale kicks things up a bit, as happened with my recent new work. And the sale was a big print, which gave the exploration a real boost. Income is an obvious form of substantiation. That can be particularly true if it gives you some space to continue to press hard on the work. But economic gain has never been a core motivation of mine. Probably makes me an odd duck.


Flora and Form Workshop Coming Up

Check out the Flora and Form  Workshop June 16-18, 2013 at Shelldance Orchid Gardens. Any and all cameras welcome.

Shelldance Nursery. 2013.


...continued top of right column


Stephen Johnson at his studio being interviewed for the Computer History Museum. 2013. Producer-Jon Plutte.

Computer History Museum Visit and Video

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA is doing an exhibit on Photoshop next year. They came by to interview me a few days ago about my early use of the program and my thoughts about its evolution and influence on my work. It was a kick.

We thought we would share some snippets of the experience here.

Among many other subjects discussed was my early use of Photoshop, then known to us as BarneyScan XP. It shipped with the 1989 BarneyScanner 35mm film scanner I started my film scanning with.


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BarneyScan 35mm Slide Film Scanner. circa 1989. From the Stephen Johnson Collection. Photo 2013.


email your comments to us

Consulting Programs and Speaking Events

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 over the next year, such as Rockport, Maine in late June, Amherst, MA in July, Dublin Ireland in mid-August, and near Portland, OR in October.

  • Pacifica: At the Gallery

Come by and talk with Steve about his ongoing Exhibitions of work on display.

  • Maine Media Workshops Artist Lecture.
    Rockport, Maine. June 25, 2013. 8pm


Northern California Field Workshops Coming Up

The Golden Gate: September 7-8, 2013

A two day digital photography workshop exploring San Francisco's Golden Gate. We'll spend time in the Presidio with its tremendous views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point with its spectacular views of the bridge, the Marin Headlands with Point Bonita Lighthouse, views along and San Francisco's ocean headlands of Land's End and the Sutro Baths near the restored Cliff House and its historic Camera Obscura.


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

Matting and Framing

A few years back, I had set up with Scott Kelby to do a class on Matting and Framing for a Photoshop World Conference I was teaching at. We knew we could not bring a frame shop onto the stage, so my friend and videographer Scott Sheppard came by the studio and shot a video of me working that we used during the talk.

As it happens, we made the video during a difficult time in my life, where I had put on weight and badly needed a haircut. For awhile, I was reluctant to put out the video at all because of those factors. Eventually I said to myself, what the hell, swallowed some pride and put it out there. It was a bit easier as I worked through the adversity and was feeling healthier.

We later decided to make it into a DVD and offer it for sale. All along, we thought a post of the video would be a nice thing for people to have access to online as well. So here is the un-chaptered version we put up sometime back, now served up on Vimeo for faster viewing.

matting cover

To Purchase Matting and Framing Video DVD $25



Previous Tutorial and Technique Posts

The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop Featured Product

National Park Notecards

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 June 13, 2013 . Mail comments to:
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