sj news logo
hills and valley

Diablo Range and San Joaquin Valley Fields. 2016. Canon 5DSr. Click to order a print. Next Workshop: Fine Art Digital Editing & Printing Hands-on: December 3-6, 2016

Welcome to the November 2016 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

The summer went so fast, it is hard to believe it is already well into autumn. My annual October workshops and east coast travels (New York Photo Plus and Washington DC) are now behind me. There are so many new photographs to explore, and a new drone. We're excited going public with many of our 2017 classes.

This month's View From Here column features photographs and explorations from recent travel. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments. Our Tutorial Section features a video tutorial on using viewing filters to judge color balance on prints.


  • 2016 Summer Fall Workshop Schedule has been posted with these and other great courses coming up. See what a great experience students have had on Steve's Workshops by exploring Workshop Testimonials.

    Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on. Dec. 3-6, 2016. 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.

    Pt Lobos. December 10-12, 2016. 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.

    Death Valley in Winter. January 28-31, 2017. Transformed from a searing 120 degree desert in summer to January's mild 60-70 degree weather, Death Valley is filled with intriguing landforms, delicate flora, strange mineral deposits and expansive views. Mile high Dante's View overlooks the patterned salt flats of Badwater and the Amargosa River below (the lowest point in the United States). Badwater's still water in turn mirrors the blue and white Panamint Mountains to the West. The lunar landscape of Ubehebe Crater's black volcanic fields rise from the rolling desert at the valley's north end with the steep gorge of Titus Canyon and Red Pass to the southeast.

    Crater Lake and Total Solar Eclipse. August 16-21, 2017 (filling fast) Awesome Crater Lake, a total Eclipse of the Sun among strange Painted Hills, check this out, an amazing opportunity! (only 2 spots left)


Steve in daily group discussion with his December Image Editing Workshop.
Photos by Fiona McDonnell.

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 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

FEATURED PRINT November 2016


Dawn, Washington Monument, Reflecting Pool. Washington DC. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

Dawn. Washington Monument. 2016.
Canon 5DSr

11x13 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each.

My friend Brain Barger and I decided a dawn at the Lincoln Memorial would be a great thing to get up and do. It wasn't hard with the sun rising after 7am. We didn't expect the light mist on the ground that made the whole area seem quite ethereal.

Workshop Schedule
Lecture. Bend Oregon Nov. 12, 2016
Lecture. Pro-Photo Supply. Portland, Oregon Nov. 14, 2016
Lecture. Napa Valley College Nov. 17, 2016
Fine Art Digital Editing and Printing Hands-on: December 3-6, 2016
Pt. Lobos, Carmel and Big Sur. December 10-12, 2016
Death Valley in Winter. January 28-31, 2017
Digital Black & White: Vision and Printing: February 11-12, 2017
RAW to Print Bootcamp June 5-9, 2017
Crater Lake and Total Solar Eclipse. August 16-21, 2017 (filling fast)

devils slide suset

Sunset over Pacific from Devil's Slide.

Speaking and Exhibition Events (see below)

Follow us onlinesjphoto twitter facebookfacebookgoogle+ bloggerblogger





Mori Point Headlands. DJI Phantom 4

A higher view experimenting with my new drone. Surf and cliffs at dusk over Mori Point.


Purchase a print of this photograph


Midtown Panorama over Central Park. New York. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

Dunmore East

Drone Aerial. Pampas and Eucalyptus Forest. 2016. DJI P4.

by Stephen Johnson

Drones, DC, Music and New York

I've been doing my first experiments with drone-based photography. I haven't yet made a photograph of consequence to me, but I am learning to control the aircraft. My confidence is slowly growing that it's safety features are good, and that if I am careful, I am not going to crash it. That effort takes time. I am excited at the prospect of l gaining some elevation and perspective on the landscape that I see. I miss the platform on my van, and just don’t get up in airplanes often enough.


Above the Surf at Mussel Rock. Pacifica. 2016. DJI P4.


Above the Pacifica Center for the Arts and Stephen Johnson Photography. 2016. DJI P4.


Flying has meant a lot to my photography. Flying has always been expensive, high and fast. I will continue to seek opportunities to fly in conventional aircraft and window seats in jets on my travels. But it has always been of interest to me to get lower and closer. Drones seem to offer wonderful opportunities for such views. My new DJI Phantom 4 seems like a good learning tool before I take on bigger drones and serious cameras.

I feel like a babe in the woods with my drone, as afraid of crashing as I am excited about seeing. It is a lot to keep track of, including just being able to really see the image on my iPhone. I am starting to test it over more dangerous terrain, like open ocean. The challenge of being the pilot and the photographer is as I always feared it would be as a pilot flying my own plane, it is a lot to keep track of. In this case my life is not in danger, but the drone investment is real and so some level of risk is felt. Clearly, it is better not to do this alone. Having a spotter along would be great, just to help keep track of what the aircraft is doing.

volcano graphic

Coming into the San Fernando Valley. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.


Over the years, I've been amazed at how many photographs I've managed to get from commercial aircraft window seats. I've talked about some of the ways of helping the process along, dark shirts, sears opposite the sun, etc.

On my way to LA two weeks ago, the view going down the length of middle California, the hills, the haze, the great Valley beyond, and hints of the Sierra even further east, kept me glued to the window.

Lately I've been making sets of photographs moments apart for stereo views, and experimenting with sequences to stitch into panoramics.



Dawn Mist on Lincoln Memorial Meadow. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.


Going back east for my Photo Plus classes always takes me through Washington DC. This year, I needed to go the the National Archives again, to see first-hand the Constitution and Declaration of Independence.

My belief in our aspirations for America run very deep, and in this political season I needed the renewed connections with our founding documents.

So near this agonizing election day, the visit may have meant more than any past visit to America's holy place. I was looking for renewal, seeking some reaffirmation of our bond as a nation. It was not easy to find in the dark chamber of the Archives, neither has the justice or equality promised. But I still believe.



crater lake

Tree and Dome. Washington DC. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

crater lake

Aluminized Kapton Foil Blanket. Lunar Module. Air and Space Museum. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.


Any time I go to Washington, I have to go to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I am never disappointed. The Apollo 11 Command Module has been moved from near the front entrance and is no longer covered in acrylic, thus allowing for a whole new exploration of its historic surface and contours.

I found myself staring at the reentry burn marks, imagining the lunar surface moving below the portals, the docked Lunar Module, Michael Collins alone in the spacecraft watching Neil and Buzz head off for the first extraterrestrial human landing, the moon rocks moving through the nose dock. These were all in my mind as I meditated on what was sitting before me.


crater lake

Reaction Control System (RCS) Jets. Columbia. Apollo 11 Command Module. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.


I did find myself staring at the spacecraft, my mind drifting and my imagination full. Part of me could almost see Columbia, not just where it was six feet from me, but also those wondrous places this physical craft had been.


shasta shasta

Apollo 11 Command Module. In orbit around moon from the Lunar Module Eagle.
In recovery after splash down in the South Pacifica.
NASA. 1969.

I stumbled into a real treat at the Air and Space Museum on this visit, a photographic exhibition in a special exhibits gallery in featuring images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. I found myself getting lost in the large prints of the lunar landscape. It was magnificent.


lunar exhibition

A New Moon Rises. Views from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.


The photographs are being made with the orbiter's Narrow Angle 5000 pixel linear array camera and its Wide Angle 1000x1000 pixel camera.

Like my Betterlight Scanning back, the Narrow Angle camera is essentially a scanning camera in orbit around the moon, constantly viewing a parade of lunar wonders as the moon appears to turn under its eye. The prints were big, luminous and stunning. The show is must see!

High resolution image downloads are on the LROC site, which means you can make your own prints.



Kodak KLI-5001G Sensor 1 x 5,064


The Moon. Crater Giordano Bruno. (2171 x 2167 pixels). Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. 2016.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Arizona State University

For any adult still carrying the inspiration of science fiction from childhood, the Air and Space Museum is an inspiration to wander. I could easily spend the whole day, as my kids have long since been able to attest. I was pleased to see the Star Trek Enterprise TV series model moved back up to the main floor from where its mere fictional status had demoted it to the basement Museum Shop for years.

What we can't imagine, we can never make real.



Star Trek's USS Enterprise Materializing.
Promoted Back to the Main Floor. Air & Space Museum. 2016.
Canon 5DSr


...continued top of right column of the essay


Steve Earle. Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

A Musical Digression

A little music photography plunged into my life in early October with the Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. I had forgotten about the concert, was reminded by my favorite radio station KPIG in Freedom, CA, and sprung into camera prep. After charging batteries, clearing memory cards and arranging what I could carry, I hit the road for the oh so terribly long 20 minute drive into San Francisco.


Terry Allen. Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

A few of my favorite musicians were playing, including Terry Allen and Dave Alvin. We got to see Shawn Colvin with Steve Earle, Jackson Brown and others. The performances were great, the intimacy very enjoyable, and some of the photographic opportunities were just fine.

Dave Alvin

Dave Alvin. Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.


Back to Recent Travels


Midtown Reflections. New York. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

Visiting New York is always a trip. It is so unlike anywhere else. With the Photo Plus trade show every October, I've had the privilege of coming to New York annually for more than twenty years. You come to know your favorite restaurants, see some of them come and go, revisit old haunts and constantly discover new things.

The corridors of stone and steel become neighborhoods of some personality. For a long time now, I've had my favorite walks, and now some newer ones like the High Line. Almost every visit I go to the Met, and MOMA. MOMA to touch base with van Gough's Starry Night. The Hayden Planetarium is always a good bet for me, as is a stroll through Strawberry Fields.


Roof tops near Times Square. New York. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.

I love the architecture of the United Nations complex, and even more deeply respect its work. More than any other building, for me it symbolizes modern New York. There might also be a 12 year old boy in me remembering the shots of it from The Man from Uncle TV series. I had not been there in a very long time. I was once again impressed with the site, the purpose, and the hope.



United Nations. New York City. 2016.
Canon 5DSr


The train ride from DC to NYC is a window into a decaying, almost-post industrial world where the rail line was the conduit, and industry was everywhere. The corridor has few natural scenes left along the way, but plenty of abandoned, graffiti-covered brick buildings that once made things, and jobs. No doubt these same buildings have chemical residue from many of those activities, but also memories steeped in another time.



Pulling out of Union Station. Washington DC. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.



Transitional Object (PsychoBarn) installation by Cornelia Parker.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York. 2016.
Canon 5DSr.


Our constructs, both as art form or artifact, reach into a sense of decay, nostalgia and iconography in some very strange ways. The string of scenes from the rail line, to sculpture in Central Park, left me curious and touched by all of the visuals we take in. Those varied sights leave subtle impressions, remind me of the very curious role photography has in holding them all in a kind of equality.


Recently at SJ Photo

It feels like I'm taking a good, deep breath at my studio for the first time in weeks, able to consider the various projects and which to tackle first. Slowing down, pondering the very local landscape of my own space feels good. It doesn't hurt that we finally have some rain here in California. The trees are perking up, green grass is sprouting on the parched fields, hot cups of tea and flannel shirts are now part of my days. I can get behind that for awhile.


2017 Pacifica Calendar now available.

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.


gift certificate


Recent Print Sales

Given my visit to the Air & Space Museum last week, I'm pleased to report a collector's purchase of a 16x20 print of my 2011 Apollo 11 Command Module photograph. I hadn't made a large print before and was very happy with it on my Museum Etching paper I designed with Hahnemühle. I do not normally post such purchases, but it came at such a unique moment so close the revisiting that very spacecraft.



Columbia. Apollo 11 Command module. 2011.
Canon 1DS II

please email your comments to us





Consulting Programs, Speaking and Exhibition 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  few months..

  • Pacifica: At the Gallery
    Come by and talk with Steve about his ongoing Exhibitions of work on display

Canon Sponsors Steve to speak at Universities, Colleges, Photo Groups and various events around the country. If you would like more information on arranging for Steve to do a Canon sponsored event, go to: Canon SJ EOL talk




Steve at Cantor Arts Center. Stanford University. July 2016.
Photo by Fiona McDonnell.

California: The Art of Water
July 13–November 28, 2016.
Group Exhibition. Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. Group Exhibition.


Steve Lecturing with George Harrison at Photo Plus. New York City. November 2016.
Photo by Dan Neri.

Custom Workshop Scheduling

People often want to take workshops and the dates just don't match up with their schedules. Sometimes they watch the newsletter and webpage for years for their interest, free time and the workshop to all coincide. We've decided to be proactive in creating a forum for potential students to tell us what you need and when you can take a class. Please email us with workshop ideas and suggestions.

More formally, we are experimenting with a workshop poll to determine when interested people can make particular workshops they really want to take.

Currently we have up a few workshops to experiment:

Workshop Polls Homepage

Viewing Filters for Print Judgment


Judging color errors and the edits needed can be hard. On prints where the color doesn't look quite right, your judgments can be greatly aided by an old tool form the color darkroom days, the Color Print Viewing Filter Kit that Kodak and others have made.


steve aerial


Previous Tutorial and Technique Posts

Steve demonstrating the Print viewing Filters.

The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop

Featured Products


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

gift certificate

Gift Certificates for Prints and Workshops!

Emailed or shipped with beautiful gift note card.


gift certificate

Life Form Note cards

5x7 inches,



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

We're open by appointment. To find us, use our map online at:

Google Map to Studio
Yahoo Map to studio

Studio directions and site layout.


We've sent you this newsletter because, at some point, you told us you were interested in hearing from us.

If you'd like to unsubscribe, change your email address, or give us comments about the newsletter, please send a note to

Newsletter Subscribe

To communicate with us regarding the list, email:

Newsletter Archive


Home | Fine Art Prints | Products | Workshops | Announcements | Online Gallery
Consulting Services | Contact Info | Site Index | Related Web | Mailing List


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

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gallery Hours are by Appointment.

Last updated on November 3, 2016 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2016, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide