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Sunlight through Palm. Coachella Preserve. 2018. Canon EOS 5DSr..  Upcoming Workshop From RAW to Print: A Digital Photography Bootcamp. June 4-8, 2018


Welcome to the May June 2018 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

As is often the case, I was on the road in late April and early May, squeezing a B&H lecture in New York in between two workshops, one at my studio and one in Palm Springs. It does produce a lot of new material for the newsletter.


This month's View From Here column explores the past few weeks of photography, travel and teaching. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.


  • Life Form Opening. Stephen Johnson Photography. June 29, 2018 (details to follow)
  • 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.

    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.

    Magic and Wonder of Raw with Photoshop A Real World Dive into Realistic and Faithful Digital Photographic Processing July 7-10, 2018 Four days exploring the tools really needed by photographers for fundamental image control and finishing. Camera RAW acquisition, Color Correction, Sharpening, careful tonal control, and preserving options into archive versions of your files will be our primary concerns. Software concentration will be mainly on Adobe Photoshop, but will look at other tools as well like Adobe Lightroom. A number of images with various challenges will be worked through to satisfaction during the course of the workshop. Full lab access is provided with access to color management tools and printers. This seminar is not about compositing or faking photographs, nor is it for absolute beginners, as basic familiarity with Photoshop is recommended.

    Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. July 14-17, 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.

    Highway One and the San Mateo Coast. July 28-29, 2018 The coastline south of San Francisco in San Mateo County is one of the most beautiful stretches of land and sea anywhere. From eroded, rocky shorelines, to cliffs, long beaches, redwood forests and small towns, this coast is complex and varied. We'll spend the day roaming the coast and mountain roads, stopping at state parks, county parks and checking out the lunch options along the way. The workshop will be a dynamic combination of a traditional landscape photography workshop while diving deep into the digital age. 



Fine Art Printing Workshop April 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


Cholla. Joshua Tree. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Cholla. Joshua Tree. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

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

The beauty of these cholla glowing in the sun were irresistible for a stop. I've always been fascinated by this form that seems like fur then becomes more like knives when touched. This was an amazing plant among quite a nice stand exiting Joshua Tree.

Workshop Schedule

From RAW to Print: A Digital Photography Bootcamp. June 4-8, 2018
Magic and Wonder of Raw with Photoshop July 7-10, 2018
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on July 14-17, 2018
Highway One and the San Mateo Coast. July 28-29, 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

Landscapes. Center for Fine Art Photography Ft. Collins, CO June 13-July 7, 2018
June 2018. Life Form. Stephen Johnson Photography. Pacifica, CA

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NEW Photograph



Bombay Beach. Salton Sea. 2018. Canon EOS 5DSr..

After eons of being a dry ancient lake, in 1905 a flood re-created the Salton Sea. Hurricanes in 1976 and 1977 did serious damage to a waning community, leaving it ever more challenged.

This sculpture at Bombay Beach," The TESSERACT by Steve SHIGLEY remains as a testament to the arts interacting and commenting on this changing landscape.

"The Bombay Beach Biennale is a renegade celebration of art, music, and philosophy that takes place each year on the literal edge Western Civilization, at the shores of the Salton Sea. "

Don’t Call It a Festival









Joshua Tress and Mountains. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


by Stephen Johnson

Journey to Desert Light

Most journeys these days are set up of necessity rather than the pleasure of wander. Whenever I can mix wander into the necessary, I try. Such was the case early in May when I was set to teach at the Palm Springs Photo Festival and hadn't been down that way since 1990. So an adventure was born.

I love road trips so much more than air travel. I get to make my own decisions, find my own path, stop at curiosity and discover.

The Mojave is always good for such exploration.



Cockpit Mojave Desert. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Joshua Tree

It had been a long time since my last visit to Joshua Tree on a solo Dad and kids outing during my National Parks Project in 1997. It was hard to believe it had been so long, and I felt grateful to be back.

Scouting for a workshop is challenging. Having been to the park a few times before, I had a fair idea of the kind of scenes I wanted to fix location visits to. But memory is funny, and my mind had jumbled a few places.

That previous 1997 visit was precious. I had a great time with my kids, even if a bit nervous being out in the desert with only one set of eyes to watch over them. I was also trying to use the Betterlight digital 4x5 camera at the same time, which was challenging and made the trip less enjoyable for the kids. I'm still proud of many of the photographs from that trip. I was also carrying a Kodak DCS 460m (monochrome) on the trip, and was quite pleased of some of the photographs made with it too.


salton sea

Stargazers Observatory. 29 Palms, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr


Much looked the same, although seen through my 2018 eyes, but a few things had changed. Since that last visit, a local stargazing group had built an observatory just outside the park. I stumbled into it the first night exiting the park into Twenty Nine Palms and was quite taken with the effort, the site, and the spirit of the place.

There were so many places to revisit in the park and it felt like a privilege to be there. I was also looking forward to the new places nearer Palm Springs that the Festival had recommended for field trip locations.




Joshua Tree in Bloom. Joshua Tree National Park. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

bubbl;e wrap

Boulders at Sunset. Joshua Tree National Park. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.



pp gallery

Granite. Joshua Tree National Park. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Split Rock. Joshua Tree National Park. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Indian Canyons Oasis


Water Pattern and Leaves. Andreas Canyon. Palm Springs, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


I didn't know the Indian Canyons at all but had been assured they were well worth visiting. That turned out to be an understatement. I spent hours walking through Andreas Canyon enjoying its complex forms, dappled light and comfort that the very term oasis implies. I looked forward to taking my class a few days later.



Palm and Cliffs. Andreas Canyon. Palm Springs, CA.2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


The class visit turned out to be good as well. My group caught on to the opportunity of form and design rather quickly. The relief form the heat was good as well. It had reached almost 108 the day before. Even the sound of the flowing water spelled psychological cooling.

We were able to engage many of the concepts I had worked with my class on during the morning. We worked on digital exposure, histograms, exposing to the right, depth of field and most importantly starting to see photographs as works of design as well as light.



Granite spiny lizard on palm. Andreas Canyon. Palm Springs, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


At one point we spotted a lizard about 12 feet up on a palm. Not thinking it would stay put, but after a few hand-held photographs, I set up the tripod and was able to make some fairly sharp images of our new found and somewhat wondrous friend.



Palms. Coachella Preserve. Thousand Palms, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.



Wind Farm, San Gorgonio Pass. Whiteriver, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr


After being out in the heat, we planned an excursion up to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Taking us up 8500 feet, the experience was transformative. We were shortly in high altitude Sierra-like conditions only minutes from the searing heat. The view was naturally expansive, but also told tales of the growing tension and opportunity of natural landscape and renewable energy.

The Palm Springs Photo Festival was a great experience. Many old friends, some brand new ones, and a wonderful chance to see some brand new sites.



...continued top of right column of the essay


Seeking Dragon Shade. Borrego Springs, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Borrego Springs

My last visit to the Anza-Borrego was in January 1990, just after my daughter was born. I was a bit distracted as this was my first time away from her. I'll never forget the campfire, my guitar, my heart full of love and hope for my beautiful little girl. It was cold in January, but very beautiful.

The early May 2018 visit to check on workshop locations was very different. It was 108° the day I was checking it out. Not great for a workshop. But as is so often the case, I discovered something I had no idea existed.



Encounter. Borrego Springs, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Sculptor Ricardo Breceda was commissioned to create a wonderland of 130 metal creatures scattered across the desert. They are magical, frightening, some real, some imagined, transplanted in time and brought fantasy and wonder to my exploration.



From Another Time. Borrego Springs, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Dragon Pixelgraph (altered photo). Borrego Springs, CA. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Salton Sea

It is always strange to see water in the middle of desert. That is particularly true of a lake so large it is called a sea. Reborn in 1905 from a water-engineer accident flood from the Colorado River, the Salton Sea was once seen as a gift to this desert valley. In the 1950s it was even billed as America's Riviera, a playground for movie stars and the wealthy, as well as ordinary folks.


salton sea

Fish Skeleton. Salton Sea. 2018


Boat docks were built, fish were stocked, it seemed a water recreation paradise. But the salty lake-bed, agricultural runoff and insufficient natural replenishment of fresh water led to toxic levels of salts for many fish and receding lake shores. Hurricanes in 1976 and 1977 devastated much of the infrastructure and we are now left with barely surviving communities and a stark seemingly dead place. Ruin of decades of human habitation is scattered around the lake. Proud communities still live here, but life has become much harder. Restoration efforts are simultaneously underway.


salton sea

Salton Sea Dockside. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr

salton sea

Painted Boat. Bombay Beach, Salton Sea. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr

In the wake of this transformation graffiti covered abandoned buildings remain, beaches littered with fish skeletons, often mimicking scenes from a post-apocalyptic SiFi movie. In fact, SiFi movies have been made there.

But there is something special here too. Hope personified, dreams challenged, art and music taking it all on. More time understanding this place would be a good thing.

Salvation Mountain

There are many strange sites around the west. Salvation Mountain, both in form and location ranks high on the strange scale. On the southeastern Imperial Valley, only a few miles from the shores of of the ever more saline Salton Sea lies a massive personal shrine to Christianity pretty much hand-built by Leonard Knight.

gallery gallery

God is Love. Salvation Mountain, 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.


Salvation Mountain, 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.

Made from hillside, adobe, straw and lots of bright paint, its colorful visage lies in stark contrast to the surrounding desert. There is a bit of a Twilight Zone quality to the place. Now that it's creator has passed away, this monument become something of a shrine to a man's faith and eccentricity. Many films and news reports have featured Leonard Knight and his mountain.



At Stephen Johnson Photography

In my capacity as a member of the Pacifica Land Trust Board, I have been involved in many projects that I am proud of, including our effort to save local headlands Mori Point, and the Virtual Pedro Point Project. VPP is featured in the new issue of our local Pacifica Magazine.


vpppurple flowers



Next Life From Venue at SJ Photo

The Life Form Exhibition will open at my Pacifica Gallery in the Pacifica Center for the Arts in mid-June. We are currently hanging the show.

Seeking Good Venues

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



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 17 inch


1 Epson 2400 printer left



Don't forget to Check out our next workshops

Next Studio Workshop

From RAW to Print: A Digital Photography Bootcamp. June 4-8, 2018


Next Field Workshop

Highway One and the San Mateo Coast. July 28-29, 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

Studio Lab Rental

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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 May 29, 2018 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2018, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide