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monument valley

Monument Valley. 2014. Canon 5D III. Click to order a print. Next Workshop Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on November 15-18, 2014

Welcome to the October 2014 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

As I write this newsletter, we are preparing for our journey back to Mono Lake next week. I always look forward to exploring this high desert sea with my classes. It remains a deep privilege to share a place I love, and one I've worked so hard to help preserve.

This month's View From Here column recounts some of our experiences on our recent Southwest Journey workshop. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments. Our Tutorial Section goes through image stitching to expand field of view or resolution.


photo review

Steve with Fine Art Printing class students and guest Ted Orland. 2014.
Photo 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 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


fog and sunlight

Sunlight Breaking through Fogbank. 2014.
Canon 5D III

Montara Fog and Sunlit Hills. 2014.
Canon 5D Mark III

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

Sunlight breaking through a deep fog bank on the hills south of Devil's Slide and Montara Mountain.

2014 Workshop Schedule
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on November 15-18, 2014
Graduate Study Days November 21 & 22, 2014
Pt. Lobos and Carmel December 6-8, 2014
Death Valley in Winter January 10-13, 2015
Yosemite in Winter January 31-February 2, 2015
Image Editing February 7-10, 2015
Color Management for Digital Photography March 7, 2015
Maui 2015 Workshop April 18-21, 2015
New Zealand July 20-27, 2015

printing class

March 2014 Printing Class. Photo by Fiona McDonnell

Speaking Events (see below)

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milky way

Milky Way from Mexican Hat. 2014


New Photo Link

Milky Way from Mexican Hat. 2014.
20 seconds, ISO 4000 f3.2
Canon 5D Mark III

It was so nice to be away from city light and in the clear desert air.


Under the desert night
the Milky Way stretches vertical
towards the zenith

Dusty, cloudy
ghosts amid the pinpoints
of countless stars

Seeming separate
of a different order

The facts I have in my head
Tell me they're the same
My eyes tell me different

The light clouds of the Milky Way
Cannot possibly be the same as stars
only further away
and infinitely more distant
Our eyes tell that truth

Collectively, our human reason
tells us different
They are the same, different only
by distance and numbers

Billions of suns, of stars
in this dark sky
In the desert night

stars and
clouds of stars


Fisher Towers near Colorado River. Moab, Utah.. 2014.

by Stephen Johnson

A Southwest Journey

12 days across the southwest on a photographic journey, both exploration, teaching, learning, discovering. From driving rain and spontaneous waterfalls, to searing heat and mystical dwellings and wall art, it was a very special couple of weeks.

I'm writing now, before details are lost, and to celebrate the trip we just completed. The stacked experience-on-top-of-experience just becomes too much to hold onto without setting down a few thoughts and photographs near in time to the trip.


fog and cliffs

Sudden Waterfall with Clouds. 2014..

Hitting the road always has its satisfactions, a feeling of freedom and adventure that pulls me forward. This trip was no different in that sense, but was in that I was visiting places I had been before, and carried with it the underpinning of visiting old friends.

We started in Zion, and were blessed with some beautiful clouds and the full moon the first day. The adventure into Zion Canyon the next day could not have been anticipated.

We rode the shuttle all the way into Zion Canyon to the "Temple of Sinawava" when rain began to fall. It started in the middle of a depth of field demo I was doing, which I finished. The droplets soon became sheets of rain, and like everyone else, we headed for the shelter near the bus stop. Our workshop, and about 200 other people, running from the Narrows or elsewhere. It was crowded, but good spirited.

Sudden Waterfall Torrent. Zion. 2014.
Canon 5d Mark III.

As the rain let up a bit, we naturally peered out into the transformed world around us, which was now layered in mist and dripping with water everywhere. But on the north side of the canyon, a torrential waterfall had appeared out of nowhere. It was about the most dramatic sudden appearance I had ever seen in the natural world, other than light itself.

The next day brought more surprises with seas of clouds and mist floating through the canyons as we climbed toward the tunnel for the east side of the park. As we emerged from the tunnel, the raid had restarted, but the rainstorm of the day before turned out to be small by comparison. As I headed for the basin I wanted to stop in, the rain got so bad, there was no choice but to pull over and wait. The rain got worse, water started pouring off every rock face in sight, It was wondrous, humbling, amazing and explained perfectly all of the erosion around us.

cliffs and fog

Cliff and Clouds. Zion National Park Utah. 2014

rain on dome

Rain Falls on Cliffs. Zion National Park Utah. 2014.

As the rain finally let up, we proceeded through a wonderland of light, wet rock and organic looking stone. Every turn begged for hours spent. I was intent on getting to one of my favorite places, a basin of petrified dunes. The persistence of continuing to drive, was worth it as the basin was sparkling, running with mini waterfalls and sheets of silvery water, the small stream was a deadly demonstration of flash flood danger and the sheer power of water.

water sheets

Petrified Dune Ridges and Rain Falls. Zion. 2104.

Just as we were getting into the rhythm of the place, the flashing lights of a Park Ranger's jeep pulled up and told we had to leave. Zion National Park was being closed due to danger from possible landslides. It seemed unprecedented. It was certainly a scene we wanted to explore for awhile. What a morning...



...continued top of right column


Dawn on Zion Wall. 2014.

We all watched the dawn light moving down the towering varnished streaked cliffs. Some saw the tree silhouette, others just light and cliffs. From the colder blue light along the Virgin River below, the yellow light seemed very warm indeed. Some vultures circled above, with speculation they might be California Condors which had been spotted in the area during previous months.


Workshop at Mystery Valley, Monument Valley. 2014.

Our Navajo guides through Monument Valley took us to some great sites and wove many stories. We heard creation stories, clans sketched in sand and gestures, tales of the ancient ones and why their world fell apart. They took us to places I had not been in my previous trips, and we spent the time to explore.


Arch with Ruins. Monument Valley. Utah. 2014.

A few of the stops brought us to arches and caves where Anasazi building remnants remained. As I have frequently though before, here I am, standing with the same view as the people that built these structures 700 years ago. I can't help but think that the setting, the view, the connection with the earth itself was part of the decision to make shelter and structure in these places. I've felt this in so called "graineries" in the Grand Canyon and elsewhere, I felt it next to this handiwork in Monument Valley.


Arch with Ruins. Monument Valley. Utah. 2014.

One of our students on the trip, Stuart Worley, had just been to the southwest earlier this year, and suggested we go by a petroglyph site on our way from Capital Reef to Moab and Arches. The Sego Canyon rock art was truly amazing, and a little spooky down this long ever more isolated road. We loved it.


Rock Art. Sego Canyon Utah. 2014

Of course, what trip to the southwest would be complete without some dinosaur sightings. They seem to be all over the region. I've seen petrified footprints on previous trips to Navajo land. Rather large rusty dinosaurs seem to be popping up here and there with every new trip I make.


Dinosaur Outside Zion. 2014.

Somehow, the southwest seems to evoke the prehistoric, and it is more than just the 1000 year old cliff dwellings. It is the exposed, encoded geology, cutting through time, a pervasive of sense of the past revealed in almost any direction.

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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  few months, such as his up coming talks in New York City at PhotoPlus.

Canon Booth on Show floor: Life Form Project. Friday October 31, 11:30-12:15

  • 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 talks



Steve Lecturing at the George Eastman House Museum of Photography. June 2012.



The Lens You Have

I'm always carrying my 70-200mm lens. But sometimes it is simply too long, and shorter lenses are often back at the car or at the bottom of the hill.

Many of us have settled into a routine of simply making a set of images to stitch together to make a wider field of view in such circumstances. It makes for more work later, but also for higher resolution photographs, providing they line up well.

Manual exposure helps to make the set consistent, as well as plenty of overlap between the images in the set.

I generally use the PhotoMerge feature in Photoshop directly from Bridge to assemble the set together, allowing both Vignette Removal and Geometric Correction to be used in the assembly.



Previous Tutorial and Technique Posts

stitched landscape

Six Image Stitch. Monument Valley. 2014.
Canon 5D III

The Stephen Johnson Photography Gift Shop

Featured Product

2014 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


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.




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 October 16, 2014 . Mail comments to:
Photographs and Text Copyright ©2014, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide