Fog and Trees, Mount Battie. Camden Hills State Park, Maine. 2005.

Stephen Johnson Photography News, Events & Info September 2005


Welcome to the September 2005 edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter. As always, we hope you enjoy this edition.

Don't miss the Beauty in Photography Seminar, the Fine Art Digital Printing, the Fundamentals of Digital Photography, and the Yosemite in Autumn workshop October 14-16.


...Major Book Agreement Announced
...New: One-Day Seminars
...New: Critique Sessions
...Stephen Johnson Editions Announced
...Lecture Series: Photo Fundamentals
...Portraits by The Studios of Stephen Johnson Photography
Featured Print Offer
...Ash and Mountains, Katmai National Park
Workshop News
...Fine Art Digital Printing
...Fundamentals of Digital
...Yosemite in Autumn
...Highway One: San Mateo Coast
...Photoshop Illustration with Bert Monroy

Upcoming Events
...PhotoPlus New York
The View from Here
...The Intrigue of Complexity
Photographic Services
Please Visit Us
Newsletter Administration


Major Book Agreement Announced
O'Reilly Media announces a collaboration with Stephen Johnson to publish his next two books, Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography and the long-awaited With a New Eye; The Digital National Parks Project.

New Gallery Event.....
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery Pacifica, California.

Photography Critique Session
Thursday evening, September 22, 2005, 7-10pm
$45 per session for showing work
$25 per session to attend

Stephen Johnson Editions Announced

Lecture Series...
Photo Fundamentals
Monday evening September 12, 2005
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery Pacifica, California.

NEW--One-Day Seminars...
Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery Pacifica, California.

Beauty in Photography with Stephen Johnson. Sept. 15, 2005

Photoshop Illustration with Bert Monroy. Nov. 18, 2005

Digital Portraits by
The Studios of Stephen Johnson Photography

September 2005

Ash and Mountains, Katmai National Park, Alaska. 1995.
11x14 Pigment Print on Rag paper

Walking through the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes was an ethereal experience. The water-carved ash cliffs seemed 80 feet high, the abstract forms contrasted strangely with mountains behind. It felt like we were walking through another world, unlike anything I had even seen, and living up to it's mysterious name. I kept wondering what it was like eighty years ago just after the volcanic eruption, when the valley was full of steaming geysers from the water below forced up through the hot ash.

We're offering an 11x14 inch print, matted to 16x20 and ready to frame for $195, framed for an additional $75. This print at this price is offered through September 31. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by October 15th.

Featured Print Web page

About the Program
Each month we offer a signed, original print, at a special price. This is a great opportunity to own a very affordable fine-art photograph. Orders are taken for a 30-day period, then printed and shipped within two weeks after the close. When it's over, it's over, these prints won't be available again at this price.

Hurricane Katrina Aid
We have been very concerned about the human tragedy of Hurrican Katrina's damage to the Gulf Coast. As part of a tradition we started in response to the Southeast Asia Tsunami in January, we are going to use our monthly featured print program as a way to raise money to aid relief efforts. Therefore, we will donate 100% of the monies coming to us for this month's print. Our labor and materials will be donated. The money will go to the American Red Cross.

* Upcoming Workshops

NEW--One-Day Seminars

Beauty in Photography: Inspiration and Composition
Sept. 15, 2005

Stephen Johnson Studios & Gallery
Pacifica, California.

Photographic composition, inspiration and aesthetics will be explored in this one-day seminar. Examples of Steve's influences and inspirations will be discussed, as well as practical structural considerations in putting photographic images together. Nuts and bolts plus romance will define the day. To Register

Fine-Art Digital Printing
September 22-23, 2005

This workshop focuses exclusively on fine-art digital printing, primarily using Epson inkjet printers. Concentration will be on inkjet printing with color pigments and black/gray ink combinations on coated and rag papers. Learn from the digital pioneer how he obtains his impressive results during two days of printing demonstrations in the studio.

We will cover workflow issues, color management, correcting color casts, adjustment layers, custom profile generation, editing and inspection. There being no magic bullet to making good prints, the workshop will also explore old fashioned testing, careful color judgements and interactive honing in on the best print possible

Fundamentals of Digital Photography
October 1-2, 2005
Stephen Johnson Photography Studios
Pacifica, California.

This is an exciting exploration of photography's powerful new digital tools with one of the most knowledgeable artists in the field. This class is designed to provide you with the background and understanding to transition your work into the digital realm. The digital basics are covered here, in real world terms, with care to make sure the concepts are understood and the complications simplified. Those basics are built on to tackle the thorny issues of camera design and choice, data storage, color management and printing.

These two days are designed to breakdown misunderstanding, build enthusiasm and make clear fuzzy concepts that can hold your work back from feeling comfortable and in control. Many experienced photographers have taken this class and raved about its helpfullness in their digital transition and understanding.

Yosemite Valley in Autumn
October 14-16, 2005

The fall colors of Yosemite offer photographers a wide variety of hue and texture. As the weather cools, the valley begins to change, subtle and beautiful colors start to emerge. People begin to disappear, bright greens turn to browns, yellows, blacks and golds. The valley smells fresher, the air clears and invites the walking we will be doing during this workshop. We'll spend three activity packed days in the valley, sometimes rising before dawn and lingering for the last moment of twilight.

The trip is designed to be an in-depth landscape photography workshop in the context of this digital age. We will discuss technical and aesthetic issues, tapping into your emotional response to this landscape, working toward images that are uniquely your own.

The Landscape of the California Coast
Highway One San Mateo: A Digital Photography Field Workshop
November 12-13, 2005.

The coastline of 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 days 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. Technical and aesthetic considerations will be discussed in detail. Our concentration will be on controlling your camera's operation to achieve your desired technical results, while building composition and visual skills to make the photograph what you want it to be. Digital exposure and dynamic range, composition, emotion and amazement-all will be part of our 2-day excursion into the evolving world of digital photography. Enrollment limited to 10 people.

Photoshop Illustration with Bert Monroy
Friday November 18, 2005. 9am to 5pm. $250
Register by Credit Card
for questions email:

You are offered a chance to attend an intimate small workshop with photo realist master Bert Monroy. In this one-day workshop Bert will lead you on a journey taking the blank screen and, with the power of Photoshop, turning it into a work of art. You will learn the techniques he's developed over the years to create realistic images that boggle the imagination.

It's the perfect seminar for Photoshop users, photographers and illustrators alike! You will master features overlooked by most people, yet powerful enough to make any imagined effect a reality. Bert will inspire you to look at Photoshop in ways you never thought possible.

* Death Valley in Winter
January 14-17, 2006
with the Magical Digital Bus

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.

Ireland’s Spectacular West Coast - 2006
June 24 – July 4, 2006
Seats limited to 12 students

Join Stephen Johnson and Anthony Hobbs for an unforgettable journey along the rustic West Coast of Ireland. This workshop will include hotel stays in several towns along our route from County Clare towards Connemara and Achill Island. Along the way, participants will explore western Ireland's landscape with its lush greens, rocky islands and remote castles. 

If you are interested in joining the reservation list for this workshop, please email us at  We are limiting this workshop to 12 students. Photography instruction, transportation, lodging and some meals included. Airfare to and from Shannon will be participant's responsibility. A $500 deposit will reserve your place in the class for 30 days. Please see Irish Workshop link above for details.

* Check out our workshop web page for information on all of our workshops, including both our field and studio workshops.

UPCOMING EVENTS with Stephen Johnson

PhotoPlus, New York City
Thursday, Friday and
Saturday October 20-22, 2005

Antarctica Workshop
November 30 — December 11, 2005

My friend Michael Reichmann of The Luminous Landscape has organized a Photography Workshop to Antarctica in December 2005. I will be teaching the workshop with Michael, John Paul Caponigro, Jeff Schewe, Seth Resnick and Chris Sanderson. We will have the entire boat for our 10 day trek to the Antarctic Peninsula. The workshop filled with Michael's pre-announcement to his own list and so is listed here for information purposes or in case you want to be added to the waiting list.


The Intrigue of Complexity

Art seems rarely achieved through complex techniques, hidden features or secret workflows. This is particularly true in the digital era where the distraction of the software itself can make the creative process become stymied in menus and self-doubt regarding using the program to its fullest potential. Add to this a steep learning curve inherent in the current transition to digital photography and you have a situation where state-of-mind can effect results more than vision.

Any state of technology in flux, and in demand, also produces many willing to share their expertise. The seduction of photography as a career, combined with the vast reach of the internet, has produced a unique opportunity for those interested in a platform from which to pontificate, some well informed, some anxious to be noticed. It could be said that this very column is such a platform.

My concern is the level of distraction I am seeing in people struggling to understand this new medium of digital photography. I've seen people expend hours and hundreds of dollars pursuing complex solutions to problems that really didn't exist. They were sure though, that they had to follow some special path because they read it on the internet, usually from someone with little or no reputation as a photographer or educator. These "special techniques" are often employed before an understanding of Photoshop's built-in capabilities are understood, adding inexperience to sometimes questionable information, wasting aspiring photographers' money, time, and more important, their emotional commitment which can be heavily impacted from great effort and less than remarkable results.

Contributing to this seems to be a conspiracy of unrealistic expectations. Manufacturers often contribute to this by promising print sizes well beyond their camera's resolution capability. The seduction of big prints from moderate files leads many to lower their image quality expectations, rather than raise image quality, which is what I think can happen with digital imagery. Also contributing is the "Tips and Tricks" mentality that has permeated the Photoshop experience since the early 1990s. Solid image editing is far less about secrets, trickery, hidden features and shortcuts, than it is about knowing your goals, and methodically working toward them.

In the same sense that many software packages have promised to transform photographs into "art" (without even realizing the insult that statement carries), many workflows, plug-ins and Photoshop Actions now promise truly innovative and professional results if only you will use their stuff instead of the mere pre-packaged Photoshop capabilities. While there is real innovation and sophisticated interaction with digital images made easier by many of these offerings, far more seem to be distracting users from the real issues at hand––making better photographs, heartfelt and strongly seen. There is a presumption that one can process a photograph into significance.

More energy seems to be expended on editing the photograph in Photoshop than spending time making the photograph. If a day ends with hundreds of images having been made, you are either in the midst of exploding events, in a place beautiful and complex almost beyond belief, or possibly you are being haphazard in your making of photographs, hoping for one or two to be successful. Casually seen photographs are usually casually appreciated at best. Intensity and strength far more often comes from time spent and care expended.

I would strongly urge people to think simply, and edit simply. Your photographs are your asset, much more so than your Photoshop skills. Those image-editing skills may well be critical to your craft, but they are secondary to your photographic vision. "Fix it in Photoshop" is a prescriptive attitude that often leads to making images not worth investing time trying to salvage through image editing.

from a draft piece for "Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography"
available from O'Reilly Media, Feburary 2006


Digital Portraits by
The Studios of Stephen Johnson Photography

  • Instant Feedback
  • Special prices
  • Satisfaction or no fees

Stephen Johnson Editions Announced


  • Artwork Copying
  • Custom Printing
  • Custom Profiles


To purchase original prints, see:

11x14 pigment on rag paper $450 from existing prints

•Information on Stephen Johnson's Original Prints

With a New Eye: The Digital National Parks Project


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 Sanchez Art Center
1220-C Linda Mar Boulevard, Creekside Suites, 5-7
Pacifica, CA 94044
(650) 355-7507

The Sanchez Art Center from Linda Mar Boulevard

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

Map to studio
Studio directions and site layout.


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Photographs and Text Copyright ©2005, Stephen Johnson. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.