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Dawn. San Gregorio Valley. 2012. Email to order a print. Next Workshop: Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra October 13-16, 2012

Welcome to the September/October 2012 Edition of the Photography Newsletter.

Sitting under the stars and Milky Way next to an eerie Mono Lake, listening to the small waves lapping against the shore, the Space Station rising from the west and disappearing into the Big Dipper, slipping into the earth's shadow...a summer imperative made real, touching these sacred shores once again, a sense of something ancient, on the mend. Looking forward to going back in October for the workshop...

This month's View From Here column explores water reflections and movement. We hope you enjoy reading it and perhaps will send us some comments. Our Tutorial this month discusses being prepared for the photographic opportunities we encounter.



2012 Canon Print Set

The next section of our popular printing workshop Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on runs from November 10-13, 2012.

So many of our students tell us they struggle with composition, so in response, for the first time in a few years, we're offering one of our One Day Photography Seminars, Beauty in Photography: Inspiration and Composition November 3, 2012.

The one-day seminar Photographic Projects will offered January 12, 2013. Keeping in mind people's limited budgets and recurring requests, these one-day classes are an effort to keep photo education affordable. This class addresses one of the most difficult areas of photography, why our interest is drawn to a scene, and how to craft an image reflective of the inspiration.

We're going back to one of our favorite places in December, Pt. Lobos and Carmel December 1-3, 2012. Whether on this workshop or at another time, you must visit Pt. Lobos, so why not join us for a group photo journey?

One of the true wonders of the world has been added to our winter workshop schedule with our Yosemite in Winter workshop Feb. 16-18, 2013.

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 announced last fall.

Our busy schedules and limited budgets often keep us from destination workshops or classes, 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 Exquisite Earth exhibition, 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 September/October 2012


Glass and Rust. Panum Crater, Mono Lake. 2012.

Glass and Rust, Panum Crater. 2012
9x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
$195 each. Purchase this print.

Sunlight spotlit on black glass looking like it could have formed yesterday, imbued with oxidizing soils, what a place...

Stephen Johnson Workshops and Event Calendar
Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra October 13-16, 2012
Beauty in Photography: Inspiration and Composition November 3, 2012
Fine Art Digital Printing Hands-on November 10-13, 2012
Photographers & Photoshop Series Photoshop CS6 and Photographers
Two Weekends: Part 1: Nov. 17-18. Part 2: Dec. 8-9, 2012
Pt. Lobos and Carmel December 1-3, 2012
Photographic Projects: A Personal History and Survey. At Mono Lake, The Great Central Valley, With a New Eye
January 12, 2013
Death Valley in Winter (full moon) January 24-27, 2013
Yosemite in Winter. February 16-18, 2013

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Dolphins and Water Flows. 2012



...Dolphins racing through Monterey Bay at amazing speed, playing with our boat, delighting us beyond words...



Tuolumne River. Tioga Meadows. Yosemite. 2012.

by Stephen Johnson


I rarely know what these essays will turn toward, as I write from the photographs I make, and the experiences that evolve. Water reflections, movement, flow and its very precious nature seems to be holding my mind the last few days.

A few recent experiences contributed to this. A quick trip just before Labor Day to the high Sierra and Mono Lake brought me back to some deeply inspiring places. The lake water rising, reflections, the streams and rivers of the Sierra, all filled my head. The very life of water running brought relief from the desert heat. Then, just last week, a long awaited whale watch cruise into Monterey Bay with whales and dolphins moving through the blue-green Pacific brought water back into my head.


Last Light Cloud. Mono Lake. 2012.

The constant movement of water is one of its infinite fascinations. In photography, I never know exactly what the result of moving water will look like rendered. Whether it is ocean streaming off a Humpback Whale's fluke as it dives, the tumble of a waterfall, or the laminar flow of water in, and around dolphins speeding through their liquid world.

The dolphins were a great example. They played with the boat, racing along, round in front, speeding so fast it was impossible to understand how they could move so rapidly through the water. I wasn't fully prepared for the photographic opportunity, it all happened so quickly. I had carelessly left a slow card in the camera, and had only a very long lens handy when we encountered the dolphins. Sharp, carefully planned shots with real bursts of exposures, backed off in zoom were not going to happen. So I rolled with the abstraction of some blur and wildly improvisational compositions, largely out of necessity.

We were told they were Common Dolphins. We thought they were anything but.


Common Dolphins, Monterey Bay. 2012.

It reminded me of other experiences and photographs, of mammals, birds, water flow and reflections, even probably inspiring new work over the next few days where form and movement kept playing into the magic of water...

A few from the last two weeks, Monterey Bay, from the Russian River, and the Sonoma Coast seemed worth including here.


White Pelicans. Sonoma Coast. 2012.


Pelicans. Pescadero. 2012.


Great Blue Heron Landing on the Russian River. 2012.


...continued top of right column


Reflections and Granite Shoreline. Teneya Lake, Yosemite. 2012.

High Sierra and Tioga Pass

Driving over Tioga Pass in Yosemite is always special for me. I have to continually renew my connections to this road that takes me to 10,000 feet amid the mountains that have given me the greatest solace of my life. Just short of Tuolumne Meadows heading from the west is Teneya Lake which happened to have some unusual water color layers and reflections.

Mono Lake

No visit ever fails to deepen my fascination and appreciation of the wonder of Mono Lake. It is curious to see the lake rise and re-flood so many of the familiar tufa formation we came to love. We hoped this would happen, as it is critical for the lake's vitality as an eco-system.

But as trails get reworked and formations start to return to the water of their birth, I am also reminded that getting to know many of these places was a fluke of careless water diversions. Watching them start to disappear under Mono's ancient waters is simply the right course for this precious resource. It does also give us a short window (hopefully) to still see some of these magnificent formations.

Join us if you can on our Mono Lake and the Eastern Sierra Workshop October 13-16, 2012.


Submerging Tufa Towers. Mono Lake. 2012

Last week, revisiting Lee Vining Creek, one of Mono Lake's feeder streams, reminded me of some video I made last year which took me down a meditative path of water movement poetry. Here it is, unedited, for whatever transportive qualities it may have for you.

Lee Vining Creek. Mono Lake. 2011. Canon 5dII. (streaming may be slow)


A few things I would like you to keep in mind...

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 around the country over the next few months, October in New York, Washington DC and Maryland, then back to San Francisco in December.

  • New York City

PhotoPlus. October 2012
"12 Steps to Improve Your Digital Photography"
Friday, October 26th from 1:30 – 3:30pm.

  • Washington DC

Howard University
Monday October 29, 2102

  • Rockville, Maryland

Montgomery College
Wednesday October 31, 2012. 3pm

  • San Francisco

The Bay Area Photography & Exploration Society Meet-Up Group.
December 4, 2012 7pm


Being Prepared

(excerpt from the book Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography unreleased revised electronic version)

The photograph you may see will often only be a photograph you make if you are prepared to capture it.

Check existing settings that might be left from a previous situation that may be quite different than what you need now. Common problematic settings may be methods of focus, high ISO setting, Manual vs Auto exposure, Image Stabilization turned on and customized for the movement, or off if on a tripod.

Thinking through the ambient exposure and likely subject matter needs can anticipate a moment so that your camera is preset for what is likely.

Fast moving action means pre-setting a fast shutter speed, and possibly high ISO if limited light needs it.

As you walk down a street, consider what it is you are noticing, and prepare for possible unfolding events that needs quick response. Put on the most likely needed lens, but arrange the pack for other things you may need, the second most likely lens.

Although it may seem an unlikely pairing, being prepared also makes for a greater possibility of serendipity playing a wonderful role in recording the completely unexpected.

The dolphin photograph to the right could not exactly be seen, it was happening too quickly. The settings I set up were able to capture a magic I could intend, but not actually see and react to quickly enough to capture. I had to just set the camera and keep tripping the shutter, sometimes on continuous bursts and hope that some of the magic I was seeing could be held. It was, and more.


Dolphin and Reflections. 2012.


Featured Posters  


Beautiful posters from Steve's National Parks work.

30x24 inches
Price $20.00

More Information

To order by credit card.



note card

National Park Color Notecard 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 3, 2012 . Mail comments to:
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