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Life Form Installation. Viewpoint Photographic Art Center. 2018. Photo by Judy Yemma. Upcoming Workshop Flora and Form March 22-24, 2018


Welcome to the March 2018 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

Just home from the weekend opening events for the Life Form exhibit in Sacramento. I'm tired, but satisfied that the work is well crafted and carefully seen. Once prints are on the wall, despite all of the memories of producing the work, it is almost as though I could not have had anything to do with it. I've always thought of that as a kind of pride in the work, and yet realizing I am only witness to this beauty, I did not create it.


This month's View From Here column explores the Premiere of the Life Form exhibit. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.


  • The biggest news is the opening of my Life Form Exhibition at the Viewpoint Gallery and Art Center in Sacramento  March 10, 2018 with a Lecture on March 11.
  • 2018 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.

    Flora and Form March 22-24, 2018. Have you ever visited a nursery or greenhouse, and thought about how great it would be to capture the beauty, color, line and form of an orchid, or unusual succulent that inspires you and preserve it in a photograph? Access can be hard, and using a tripod can be impossible and not allowed. Perhaps you hesitated because you felt the need for instructional help with the technical, aesthetic and compositional framework to make it happen. This workshop is designed to enable careful photography exploring the wonder and beauty of orchids and other-worldly flora.

    Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. April 14-16, 2018. Ansel Adams called Pt. Lobos "the greatest meeting of land and sea" on earth. It is truly an amazing combination of rock, surf, wildlife, changing light and abstraction...aqua surf, orange lichen, organic rock forms and waving sea palms. We'll walk the trails, wander the rocks, get lost in form and light.

    Seeing Beauty in Photography April 21, 2018 Why do some images move us, and others leave us cold? What makes a good photograph? What makes us pick up the camera at a particular moment? What constitutes a beautiful print?

    Talking about Art is hard. There doesn't seem to be words to describe the motivations or reactions and there are too many words obfuscating meaning. Plain talk, real dreams and real passions are what drive us forward, sometimes irrationally, sometimes with a plan. Photography fits neatly into this long and confused history. These and other such inspirational and compositional questions will be discussed in this seminar on photographic composition. 

    Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. April 28-May 1, 2018. 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 cotton 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.

    Desert Light Photography Workshop. Palm Springs. May 6-10, 2018 A special workshop exploring the desert landscape at the 2018 Palm Springs Photo Festival. Attendees will make work together in the spectacular landscapes near Palm Springs and its environs. Stephen will share his love of the desert, exotic flora, desert vistas and wonderful boulder-strewn fields and hills. This workshop is about desert color, organic form and exploration. It is about quiet, and wind, sun, dawn and twilight, star-filled nights and solid photographic information. The light and color will be as much our subject as the land itself.

    From RAW to Print: A Digital Photography Bootcamp. June 4-8, 2018 This full-week photography workshop is an intense immersion into digital photography with one of its pioneers. In five days you will go from perhaps not even understanding what a RAW file is, to making well-crafted and thoughtful prints. Fieldwork, extensive lecture and lab work will fill our time together. Every student will have full access to their own workstation in our lab. Topics include practical experience with digital exposure, RAW processing, image editing, color management and printing.


Some of the Death Valley Workshop in Titus Canyon. January 2018.

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 original prints in 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


red flower

Caladium. Royal Flush. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Caladium. Royal Flush.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

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

The red, pink and green drew my eye in, the structure made a design I thought I could photograph.


Workshop Schedule

Flora and Form March 22-24, 2018
Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. April 14-16, 2018.
Seeing Beauty in Photography April 21, 2018
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on April 28-May 1, 2018
Desert Light Photography Workshop. Palm Springs. May 6-10, 2018
From RAW to Print: A Digital Photography Bootcamp. June 4-8, 2018


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


Speaking and Exhibition Events


Continuing Installation. Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA Jan. 17, 2017 onward. Make Software Exhibit

March 10, 2018. Life Form. Viewpoint Gallery and Art Center. Sacramento.

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Rotunda, California State Capitol. 2018. Canon 5DSr.

I love the symmetry


Purchase a print of this photograph




Steve with the Life Form Exhibit, Viewpoint Photographic Art Center . 2018


by Stephen Johnson

Life Form Premieres

The project I started back in the spring of 2013 opened to the public last Friday night at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center in Sacramento.

The Life Form exhibition was deeply aided by my Exhibit Construction Kickstarter Project which funded a substantial amount of the framing costs for the exhibition.



Steve finishing a 50 inch matt for his upcoming "Life Form" show. 2018.
Canon 5DSr


pp gallery

Final batch of frames on their way back to the studio to assemble. Thanks Kickstarter supporters! 2018
Canon 5DSr



The first batch of five finished prints on February 11, 2018.
Canon EOS 1DX II


The Exhibition Intro Panel

The Life Form Series
This work comes from my lifelong fascination with organic form and design. Not only have I found solace in the natural world for all of my adult life, but my respect for all living things has profoundly effected how I’ve lived my life. My photographic work has long reflected this interest and respect.

Over the years I have often been struck by the pure sensuality of flora, and have often made photographs that have moved me emotionally. I suppose it is no great extension of this interest to now find myself exploring the design, form and sensuality of plant form with this emerging body of work.

My fascination with sensual organic form knows no limits. The natural beauty that drew me to photography is most profoundly manifested by the very sensuality of natural form itself. Its beauty is deeply emotional, bound up in the basic instinct and desires of our humanness. Finding such form in the real world has been my career. This work concentrates that intrigue on the wonderful and strange form found in plant life. Closely examined, these seemingly familiar, fellow creatures of this planet, become profoundly compellingly, strange, almost alien and and irresistible to explore with care, deep focus, sensitively and without embellishment.


The Photographic Process

The Life Form Series is being made with a focus-stacking technique to expand the depth of field with multiple focusing points assembled in Helicon Focus software.


purple flowers

Focus Stacking with Helicon Focus software.


Canon Cameras and Printers
I am using the Canon EOS camera system for the Life Form project and it has evolved through three different Canon camera bodies, the 22mp 1Ds III, the 5D III and now the 50mp 5DSr. My lenses have been the beautiful Canon 180mm Macro, the 100mm Macro, 28-70mm Macro, and the 70-200mm with Extension Tube EF 12.

I made a decision very early on to keep this body of work based entirely on Canon cameras and printers. So the first prints were on my Canon IPF6450 just as 14 inch proofs of the files with some custom profiles Canon made for me. I chose the Museum Etching paper I designed for Hahnemühle and have been delighted with the results. The 14 inch prints were fine, and gave me the results I needed to see where the work was going. Even very early into the project I couldn’t wait to try a bigger 40 inch print.

In May 2013, my first 40 inch print became a reality, and looked very handsome. As it happened, I had a consulting appointment the very next day, and one of my clients bought the print on the spot. I was encouraged. Canon then sent in a IPF8400 for the big prints. The work then began on the printing a set of 25 large 40 inch exhibition prints and has continued with the new imagePROGRAF PRO-4000. I am very proud of the results.


color profile

With the first Life From 40 inch print. May 2013.


The early project prints were about tuning the Canon printer and my focus stacking process. As I was experimenting making photographs in my studio, I was able to make a few photographs, focus-stack them, and hold a print in 15 minutes. It was a remarkable feedback loop.

Choosing Hahnemühle's Museum Etching paper I designed was an early aesthetic decision which has turned out splendidly. I am very happy with the natural fibers of the paper, its inherent depth, and this particular subject matter. As the project went on, I gained more and more confidence in the Canon printers and how they interacted with the paper.

When I started to explore bigger prints, there was no question about the process I would use, I was going to stay on the Canon pigment printers and the Museum Etching paper. Both Canon and Hahnemühle have been very generous to this project.




Orange Orchid in Canon P4000 printer.

Exhibit Construction

Thanks go to Canon for the first display of prints for New York's PhotoPlus Exposition back in October. Their framing for that display drove the aesthetics of the entire exhibition and I am very grateful.

Most of my attention in January and February of this year was preparing for the Life Form show in March. Reprinting some photographs, ordering frames, cutting down 40x60 matt board, getting help with the 8-ply overmatts and with assembling the frames. Toward the end of the process my 8-ply matt cutting was visibly improving

Of course, I was also raising framing funds through the Exhibit Construction Kickstarter project which turned out wonderfully. With stretch funding, enough was raised beyond my initial goal to frame 16 more prints beyond what Canon framed last fall.

Thanks to all of my Kickstarter supporters. You all really did make the framing of these prints possible.


purple flowers

Eleanor Normile and Carl Schwab assembling matts. 2018.
Canon 5DSr




...continued top of right column of the essay

Rough cut of Steve's Opening Remarks, March 9. Viewpoint Photographic Art Center. 2018.


The Opening at Viewpoint

Life Form opened on March 6 to the public and was celebrated in a Member's opening on the evening of March 9th, a public opening on March 10 and featured a lecture on March 11. The prints will be on display at Viewpoint through April 7.



Life Form Exhibit, Viewpoint Photographic Art Center . 2018


The Members Opening was very busy with many old friends dropping by. The Public Opening had almost 400 people come by, the Lecture was standing room only. I was very pleased with the attendance and their reactions to the work.


pp gallery

Viewpoint Photographic Art Center. 2018.

Next Venue

The Life Form Exhibition will open at my Pacifica Gallery in the Pacifica Center for the Arts in late April or early May. The date is a little uncertain at the moment as there is a lot of work to do to prepare the space.

Seeking Good Venues

We are seeking good venues to show this work. The Life Form Series is now available for museum and gallery exhibition.


moon and mountains

Canna Lily. Filoli Gardens. Woodside, CA. 2014.
Canon1DS III


I knew some of the walls at Viewpoint were too small for my 50 inch frames, so I started going through stacks of 11x14 prints that I might like to include. Some new work floated to the top of the stacks and a few of those made it into the show. Others had been under consideration as larger prints but I knew space was limited in the current venue.



Succulent. Shelldance. Pacifica. 2014.
Canon1DS III.

I'm very proud to have my new work at Viewpoint on public view.



Wandering Around Sacramento

titus canyon

California State Capitol.2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R.


I spent part of my early youth in Sacramento and so visiting always brings a tinge of going home. It is where my earliest memories are.



Rotunda, California State Capitol. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R


By the time my eighth grade class field trip took us to the state capitol, I had lived most of my life over 100 miles away. I remembered the excitement coming to the Capital building, seeing where government functioned, where a difference could be made. I was not yet cynical, possibility was starting to dawn on my imagination. The next few years would bring huge transitions to my thinking, becoming aware of Vietnam, political assassinations, racism and the struggle for human and animal rights across the planet.

Whenever I visit our state capitol, or Washington, that trip in 1969 washes over me. I still remember that day in awe.



Palms. California State Capitol. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DS R



At Stephen Johnson Photography

Although a book from the Life Form Series will take time (and a publisher) to produce, I did decide to make a 36 page folio of images in the meantime.

The Life From Folio is available directly from my print on demand printer MagCloud or by dropping by my studio.



Life Form Folio.


Free Stuff (a few still left)

Last summer we replaced the Epson 2400s in our lab with their new P600s and consequently have some printers to seed to photographers in need. We were also given some Epson Canvas to share. These are available for pick-up to those of you on my mailing list. Let me know of your interest. I do want to spread them out among a few people.

We've had a few takers, but more are left. Take Advantage.

Epson Canvas rolls


Epson 2400 printers




Don't forget to Check out our next workshops

Next Studio Workshop

Flora and Form
March 22-24, 2018


Next Field Workshop

Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur.
April 14-16, 2018.




please email your comments to us

The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop

Featured Products



New Life Form Folio

pacifica book

lf book page

The Life Form Folio

As we are premiering the Life Form Exhibition, I wanted to have a collectible item and record of the show prior to the full book I plan. So, now available is the 36 page 11x17 wire bound book, 5 years of work from 2013 to 2018 exploring these magnificent lives.

  • Photographs from 2013-2018
  • 36 pages
  • 11x17 wire-bound book
  • $40

Preview and Order Here

Exquisite Earth Exhibition Catalog

pacifica book



ee book pageee book page

The Exquisite Earth Exhibition Catalog

As I've been on a roll on fixing bodies of work into POD books, I decided before the Exquisite Earth show could come down for new upcoming show, I wanted to create a printed record. So, now available is the 56 page 11x17 wire bound book, 5 years of work from 2005 to 2010 traveling this wondrous planet.

  • Photographs from 2005-2010
  • 56 pages
  • 11x17 wire-bound book
  • $50

Preview and Order Here

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


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 March 15, 2018 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2018, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide