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pacifica pano

Surf and Beach. Pacifica. 2017. DJI Phantom 4 Drone. Click to order a print. Upcoming Workshop: Image Editing Intensive. June 24-27, 2017.


Welcome to the June 2017 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

Teaching, photographing from ground and air, whales, working on new POD books and my Life Form exhibit. A busy time. Carrying the loss of my friend Michael Collette with a very heavy heart.


This month's View From Here column documents a few recent experiences and remembers a dear friend. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.


  • I just finished work on a new Pacifica book, a gathering of work from my Pacifica Calendar series over the last few years and other photographs I've made in the course of living here for 30 years. I'm happy to have Ben Pease's great trail map as part of our outreach to bring attention to the natural wonders of Pacifica.
  • 2017 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.

    Photoshop and Raw: Image Editing Intensive. June 24-27, 2017. This is a great chance to explore digital photographic editing with Steve in his custom built digital lab. Full lab access and your own work station with hands-on help and demonstrations of his use of editing tools with restraint and finesse will benefit all of your digital photography work. This class is designed with the time to really understand the processes, and to work through difficult images.

    Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. July 15-18, 2017. (May session full) 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 rag 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.

    Crater Lake and Total Solar Eclipse. August 16-21, 2017 Awesome Crater Lake, a total Eclipse of the Sun among strange Painted Hills, check this out, an amazing opportunity! (full with waiting list)


Steve with the Fine Art Printing Workshop in early May 2017.

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 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



Tiered Sun. 2017.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Tiered Sun above Pacific. 2017.
Canon EOS-5DSr

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

Watching the sun transform through the refractions of dense horizon air is one of the constant pleasures of living here on the the west coast. The fracture and forms are endless. This time I had grabbed the camera.


Workshop Schedule
Critique Session. June 20, 2017 7 to 10pm
Wet-Plate Collodion Photography. June 10-11, 2017
Image Editing Intensive. June 24-27, 2017
Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. July 15-18, 2017
Digital Black and White: Vision and Printing August 5-6, 2017
Large-Format Fine Art Digital Printing July 22-23, 2017
Crater Lake and Total Solar Eclipse. August 16-21, 2017
Pt. Reyes National Seashore. September 9-11, 2017
Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. September 23-25, 2017


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


Speaking and Exhibition Events (see below)

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Many Greens and Red. Pacifica.. 2017
Canon 5DSr

A eucalyptus stand from our Pacifica workshop.


Purchase a print of this photograph

devils slide

Hillside Rocks and Wildflowers. Devil's Slide. From the Pacifica Workshop. 2017.
Canon EOS-5DSr.

by Stephen Johnson

A Very Full Month

Much has happened since the last newsletter, much of it unrelated, except through the measure of time. I've had some very nice photographic experiences, mostly through being lucky enough to have stumbled into something special.

I've also found myself in the position to use my photography to express appreciation, fascination, and bring good memories to the present.

We had a very productive Fine Art Printing Workshop with a lot of thoughtful work and careful development of craft. I very much enjoyed helping people out and seeing their pride in their prints.


oak limbs

Arms of Oak. Pacifica. 2017.
Canon EOS-5DSr

Our Pacifica Nature's Gem workshop went well, with nice light and form and a nice group of people.

The Oak above allowed for a very effective demo of the default setting limitations in raw processors which can severely truncate the image. As we discussed this in the field, it was a perfect set up for learning how much more is actually in the image an initial pre-set interpretation that a raw processor starts with. The black silhouette of the tree limbs became real wood and nuanced life with texture and form, as we saw with our own eyes only hours before.



Forest. San Pedro Valley Park.. Pacifica. 2017.Canon 5DSr.



Rockaway Bay from the Headlands. Pacifica. 2017.
DJI Phantom 4 drone.


The whales seem to be returning to our shoreline here in Pacifica. We've been on the lookout for weeks now, hoping for some white blows on the horizon, or even better, some close in visits. So far, I have not seen any close, but reports from around town has our cetacean friends back. I find that comforting and exciting.


Tail slapping Humpback Whale. Pacifica. 2017. Canon 5DSr..


Life Goes On

The sun rises another day, we are grateful for our hearts beating, for those we love and this treasured planet. Despite the battles that seem to have to be waged to keep things good and getting better, life is wondrous.

We all know that with this preciousness, there is also loss.


gift certificate

Michael Collette. Pacifica. 1996.


Michael Collette, inventor of the BetterLight Scanning back, passed away on May 11 from a cancer he had been battling since last summer. Mike was the designer, engineer, builder and user of the BetterLight Scanning back, the extraordinarily high resolution digital insert for 4x5 cameras that changed the history of photography and birthed my national parks project With a New Eye.

Mike was an amazingly bright and sensitive man. His voice was rich, once even working as a radio DJ. His curiosity and belief in his ability to achieve a dream was deeply inspirational to me.

He was an engineer in Palo Alto when he was pondering a digital camera design for large format cameras. In 1992, he resigned from his job, went home and designed, then built and wrote the software for that very camera. We went out in San Francisco in January of 1994 and tested his hand-built prototype against all sorts of 4x5 film. The film failed miserably by comparison. My photographic life changed forever that day.

Although the scanning back was based on film scanning principles, Mike had a huge task in making the design portable and adapt to needs of an adjustable field camera. He made it all work. Elegantly. With huge empowerment to the world of photography. Art museums across the world use his camera to preserve their collections.

He was my good friend. I will miss him terribly.

I will write more about Mike when my sorrow eases a bit. The photograph of Mike Collette is from my 1996 birthday.


...continued top of right column of the essay


Sheila Burch, Nickelodeon Video. 2017.

A Community Loss

The last video rental store in Pacifica closed after more than 30 years. It was still a good business, but raising rents pushed owners Sheila and Dave Burch into shutting down a local institution Nickelodeon Video. Sheila was a warm and friendly presence in our town, knowing my kids since they were babies.

Even with online movies, we frequently found ourselves popping down to Nickelodeon Video to browse and pick something out. If a movie didn't exist in DVD or Blu-ray, she likely had a VHS copy. They also ran a used electronics business on the side, my gallery flat-screen came from Nickelodeon.

Community comes in many forms, and a local storefront has been part of the community experience probably as long as markets have existed in human communities. We are very sorry to see this one go.


A Visiting Wonder

A beautiful Moth landed outside my studio and stayed there. It seems to be a Cecropia. It is a spectacular creature. They only live for a few days and don't even have a way of eating.



Cecropia Moth. 2017
Canon 5DSr.

For two days now, it is staying put, perhaps a female waiting for a mate. Looks like it is there for its short long haul. My photographs so far are of this beautiful live wonder who will shortly die. I can't disturb it, but it will be such a shame if is dies and simply falls to the ground and starts to fall apart. It has been a deep privilege to see this precious living work of art and feel an innate respect for its life and beauty, then learning a bit about its brief life-cycle. It seems a little morbid, but I do want to save it and make better photographs than I now can. Photographing the dead has its own dark feelings but natural beauty, in whatever form, is so much of what I feel passion for. We'll see how it goes.

I kept celebrating its life and how lucky I feel to see it. An afternoon wind came up though, and it was gone the next morning.


The International Space Station


Live Feed ISS. NASA.

An email came in last Thursday alerting me that the ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment was back up live from the International Space Station. Naturally I logged on, and saw a cloud covered world with the bright sun striking the station. It seemed a vast and fragile earth below. I stared at the screen while the station moved forward in its 17,000 mph orbit, they earth seeming to rotate below.

Of course, that experience reminded me that I hadn't watched the ISS fly overhead for awhile. So I launched my iphone App GoISSWatch and a perfect flyover was only 25 minutes away. The stars seemed to aligning, so to speak.

We gathered on the front porch, anxiously awaiting its first visibility. It was one of the most beautiful flyovers we've seen. Clear starry sky, the ISS straight overhead, the brightest object visible, racing across the sky, but still taking many minutes.

From the ISS

The constant sun in space
except in orbit
brief earth shadow night
half of an hour and half

There is no weather 250 miles up
only below

Out from Earth,
around this sun
there is only sun
and stars
constant light
4 billion years, and billions more

That searing light
even from 93 million miles
radiates outward into the chill of space
able to heat only what it can strike
only on the sunny side, unscattered shadows succumb to space cold

With that light
outside our thin protective veil of air
pours a torrent of cosmic rays, x-rays, gamma rays
deadly, penetrating,
sometimes eruptive of still more power
the real and constant environment around this
deadly and life giving star

This is our home
under the safety blanket of our air
seeming clear at night, falsely blue in daylight
filled with water, filled with life
foolish, unaware human life




Go ISS Watch Screen.
iphone 6.

A lonely
singular oasis,
so finite, in such infinite cold space

We are a spectacular exception
to everything around us,
for light years or more, perhaps forever.

Everything we truly need is already here
except perhaps wisdom

Recently at Stephen Johnson Photography


pacifica book


The Pacifica Book

A few weeks ago a fellow dropped by interested in our 2017 Pacifica Calendar, and bought one on the spot. A few days later he came in and asked if older Pacifica Calendars were available. He bought two more and we ordered yet another that were out of stock. All told, my new friend Ralph bought 4 calendars from current and past years.

This sparked an old idea, why not assemble all of these Pacifica Calendar I've done over the years into a print-on-demand book? I gathered all of the old InDesign files and started working. As always, a simple idea became more complex than I would have liked, but that is the nature of almost everything in the arts.

The result is an evolving 74 page 11x17 wire bound book. 32 years in Pacifica, 10 years of calendars and a lot of answers as to why I stay in this beautiful setting. $75

Preview and Order Here


please email your comments to us

The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop

Featured Products



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


2017 Pacifica Calendar

20 scenes in and around Pacifica, California where Stephen Johnson Photography is located. Full page trail map included. Printed on a color laser digital press.

11" x 17"

To order directly from MagCloud Printing

2017 pacifica calendar

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

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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 9, 2017 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2017, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide