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Lighthouses of the Bay Area

Bay Area Digital Photography Workshop Series


Bay Area Lighthouses
A Digital Photography Field Workshop

Lighthouses of the Bay Area

May 18-19, 2019 


Enrollment is limited. 

Pigeon Point, Montara, Ft. Point and Point Bonita

Bay Area Lighthouse Views and Vistas

Through fog, wind and treacherous waves, when trade and travel depended on ships and these guiding lights that navigated them through mighty seas, these vital lights were a beacon of safety. We'll focus on creating images of these stoic lights and their dramatic settings.

Compositional opportunities await you, and Steve will be there to help with personalized instruction on technical challenges and composition suggestions . There is great beauty in the architectural strength of the light towers rising from rock into ocean and sky.

"The Lady of The Light” guest-instructor Fiona McDonnell, is featured on this class with her unique stories and Lighthouse history from her 29 years as a resident Lighthouse Museum Curator.

A two and a half day photography workshop exploring San Francisco Bay Area Lighthouses and the vistas surrounding them. We'll spend time at Pigeon Point Light on the San Mateo coast, the Montara Lighthouse and Hostel, Fort Point with its spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Point Bonita Lighthouse on the  Marin Headlands.

We begin with a Friday night pre-meeting exploring landscape and architectural photography and the processing opportunities in finishing the photographs. A pre-dawn meeting the next morning at Pigeon Point will start our day, then off to a breakfast at the Cascade Restaurant at the Costanoa Resort, then back to the lighthouse to explore its great views and access to the massive rainbowed fresnel lens.

At all stops, views of the Lighthouse will only be part of the experience, as it is these places themselves that lend so much fascination to Lighthouses. Much time will be spent walking and looking, knowing we will be in the area for awhile, giving you the freedom to explore, with great on-site help from Steve.

Our concentration will be on understanding your goals and inspiring broadened perspectives. We will work 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.

The workshop will run from 9am to 5pm. Lunch stops will also be pre-arranged but are not included in the fee. Participants are responsible for their own transportation. An optional Saturday night dinner at the wonderful Greens restaurant in Fort Mason will cap the first day. and half

With Lighthouse Museum Curator Fiona McDonnell.

Fiona was nationally recognized for her work as the Museum Director/Curator of a prominent lighthouse in Michigan. She lived in the building for over 20 years, while engaged in restoration, preservation, artifact collecting, exhibit creation and the development of educational programs. Fiona is credited with transforming the (1875) historic lighthouse, into a first class museum, which was annually visited by lighthouse enthusiasts from all over the world. 

She also taught environmental education, natural history and art, inspiring young people and adults with her classes, interpretative tours and lectures. Her love of the natural world and art led to a degree in Environmental Science and a job at a Nature Center where she worked as a naturalist / educator. There, she conducted many diverse programs including work with disabled and handicap individuals. She also rehabilitated injured wild life, painted educational murals, and created interactive exhibits.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse


Stephen Johnson

A photographer, teacher and designer, Stephen has been teaching and working in photography since 1977. His books include At Mono Lake, the critically acclaimed The Great Central Valley: California's Heartland and Making a Digital Book. He runs his own photography, publishing and design company--scanning and designing his photographic books, pioneering the transition into digital photography including the field use of a Macintosh laptop and digital view cameras.

His work has included With a New Eye, his groundbreaking and historic all digital national parks project, a new book Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography for O'Reilly, ongoing portfolio development and extensive lecturing. Current work features a concentration on flora for his new project, Life Form.

Stephen's pioneering work in digital photography, desktop color separations and digital imaging has included software and product development for clients such as Apple, Adobe, Eastman Kodak, Leaf, Ricoh and SuperMac. His work with Adobe includes the creation of the duotone curves shipped with their Photoshop software.

His photographic clients have included the Ansel Adams Publishing Trust, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and the Friends of Photography. Johnson's photographs have been widely published and collected internationally.

In 1999, Folio Magazine declared the publication of Johnson's digital photographs in Life Magazine to be one of the Top 15 Critical Events in magazine publishing in the twentieth century. Stephen Johnson was named as a 2003 inductee into the Photoshop Hall of Fame, recognized for his achievements in Art. Canon named Steve as one of their Explorers of Light in 2006. In 2007 X-Rite named Stephen as a founding member of their exclusive Coloratti group of photographers and educators honored for their skills in color management.

In 1997, Life Magazine described Stephen Johnson as an artist that "...applies science to nature and creates art." His images create " intimacy that brings subject and viewer close in ways conventional photographs cannot." 

The Photographer’s Gallery wrote in 1998: “Stephen Johnson's photography rides on the "bleeding edge" of photography's transition to a digital media. Schooled in the traditions of fine-art western landscape photography, Johnson has taken his understanding of traditional photographic processes and brought those skills to bear on the emerging technologies and aesthetics of digital photography. He has pushed technology companies to rise to the best of what imagemaking can be, and pushed his own vision of how we see and record light in the natural world. This has led him to conclude that the way we have traditionally captured images with silver-based photography has been a poor and distortive view of the real and rich world before our eyes. His photographs look almost "unphotographic" in their clarity and purity of color. He shows us a world we know, but rarely see on paper. His is a truly remarkable vision.”

For thousands of years, Lighthouses have been beacons of safety. On the edge of land and sea, they are both of real and symbolic benefit. Functionally placed at dramatic sites, Lighthouses offer views that often define our sense of place.

Stephen Johnson Biography
Workshop Testimonials
Workshop Review

To Register
Registration fee must be paid in full to secure a spot in the class. Additional information will be sent upon registration.

Refunds and Cancellations

This workshop is financially dependent on adequate class registration. Where minimum enrollment requirements are not met, the class will be canceled, and a full refund given. You will be notified at least one week in advance if a workshop is not going to take place. Student initiated cancellations received prior to one month before the workshop will receive credit for a future workshop of similar value, a 50% credit will be given for notice received at least 2 weeks immediately prior to the workshop (a full credit less a $50 overhead fee will be given if another student is able to fill the spot from a waiting list). No credit will be given if cancelled less than 2 weeks prior to the workshop. Credits need to be redeemed within one year.

We recommend that you purchase refundable airline tickets as we cannot guarantee adequate enrollment to conduct the workshop.