Stephen Johnson Photography News
Welcome to the May/June 2018 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
As is often the case, I was on the road in late April and early May, squeezing a B&H lecture in New York in between two workshops, one at my studio and one in Palm Springs. It does produce a lot of new material for the newsletter.
FEATURED PRINT May 2018
Cholla. Joshua Tree. 2018.
Canon EOS 5DSr.
9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
The beauty of these cholla glowing in the sun were irreistaible for a stop. I've always been fascinated by this form that seems like fur become like knives when touched. An amazing plant among quite nice stand exiting Joshua Tree.
We're offering a 9.5x14 inch print of the photograph, matted to 20 inch wide board and ready to frame for $195, framed in silver for an additional $100, wood for $250. This print at this price is offered through May 31. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by June 15.
Life Form Opening. Stephen Johnson Photography, Pacifica, CA. June 29, 2018. (details to follow)
2018 Workshop Schedule is building with these and other great courses coming up. See what a great experience students have had on Steve's Workshops by exploring Workshop Testimonials.
Upcoming Events & Workshops
The Studio, 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.
We hope you can come by the gallery and see the original prints in 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.
Bombay Beach. Salton Sea. 2018. Canon EOS 5DSr.
After eons of being a dry ancient lake, in 1905 a flood re-created the Salton Sea. It soon became a magnet for desert water lovers, but became increasingly salty as the decades passed. Hurricanes in 1976 and 1977 did serious damage to a waning community, leaving it ever more challenged.
This sculpture, "The Tesseract" by Steve Shigley remains as a testament to the arts interacting and commenting on this changing landscape.
"The Bombay Beach Biennale is a renegade celebration of art, music, and philosophy that takes place each year on the literal edge of Western Civilization, at the shores of the Salton Sea."
THE VIEW FROM HERE
by Stephen Johnson
Journey to Desert Light
Most journeys these days are set up of necessity rather than the pleasure of wander. Whenever I can mix wander into the necessary, I try. Such was the case early in May when I was set to teach at the Palm Springs Photo Festival and hadn't been down that way since 1990. So an adventure was born.
I love road trips so much more than air travel. I get to make my own decisions, find my own path, stop at curiosity and discover.
The Mojave is always good for such exploration.
It had been a long time since my last visit to Joshua Tree on a solo Dad and kids outing during my National Parks Project in 1997. It was hard to believe it had been so long, and I felt grateful to be back.
Scouting for a workshop is challenging. Having been to the park a few times before, I had a fair idea of the kind of scenes I wanted to fix workshop visits to. But memory is funny, and my mind had jumbled a few places.
That previous 1997 visit was precious. I had a great time with my kids, even if a bit nervous being out in the desert with only one set of eyes to watch over them. I was also trying to use the Betterlight digital 4x5 camera at the same time, which was challenging and made the trip less enjoyable for the kids. I'm still proud of many of the photographs from that trip. I was also carrying a Kodak DCS 460m on the trip, and was quite pleased of some of the photographs made with it too.
Much looked the same, although seen through my 2018 eyes, but a few things had changed. Since that last visit, a local stargazing group had built an observatory just outside the park. I stumbled into it the first night exiting the park into Twenty Nine Palms and was quite taken with the effort, the site, and the spirit of the place.
There were so many places to revisit in the park and it felt like a privilege to be there. I was also looking forward to the new places nearer Palm Springs that the Festival had recommended for field trip locations.
Indian Canyons Oasis
I didn't know the Indian Canyons at all, but had been assured they were well worth visiting. That turned out to be an understatement. I spent hours walking through Andreas Canyon, enjoying its complex forms, dappled light and comfort that the very term oasis implies. I looked forward to taking my class a few days later.
The class visit turned out to be good as well. My group caught on to the opportunity of form and design rather quickly. The relief from the heat was good as well. It had reached almost 108° the day before. Even the sound of the flowing water spelled psychological cooling.
We were able to engage many of the concepts I had worked with my class on during the morning. We worked on digital exposure, histograms, exposing to the right, depth of field and most importantly starting to see photographs as works of design as well as light.
At one point we spotted a lizard about 12 feet up on a palm. Not thinking it would stay put, but after a few hand-held photographs, I set up the tripod and was able to make some fairly sharp images of our new found and somewhat wondrous friend.
After being out in the heat, we planned an excursion up to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Taking us up 8500 feet, the experience was transformative. We were shortly in high altitude Sierra-like conditions only minutes from the searing heat. The view was naturally expansive, but also told tales of the growing tension and opportunity of natural landscape and renewable energy.
The Palm Springs Photo Festival was a great experience. Many old friends, some brand new ones, and a wonderful chance to see some brand new sites.
My last visit to the Anza-Borrego was in January 1990, just after my daughter was born. I was a bit distracted as this was my first time away from her. I'll never forget the campfire, my guitar, my heart full of love and hope for my beautiful little girl. It was cold in January, but very beautiful.
The early May 2018 visit to check on workshop locations was very different. It was 108° the day I was checking it out. Not great for a workshop. But as is so often the case, I discovered something I had no idea existed.
Sculptor Ricardo Breceda was commissioned to create a wonderland of 130 metal creatures scattered across the desert. They are magical, frightening, some real, some imagined, transplanted in time and brought fantasy and wonder to my exploration.
It is always strange to see water in the middle of desert. That is particularly true of a lake so large it is called a sea. Reborn in 1905 from a water-engineer accidental flood from the Colorado River, the Salton Sea was once seen as a gift to this desert valley. In the 1950s it was even billed as America's Riviera, a playground for movie stars and the wealthy, as well as ordinary folks.
Boat docks were built, fish were stocked, it seemed a water recreation paradise. But the salty lake-bed, agricultural runoff and insufficient natural replenishment of fresh water led to toxic levels of salts for many fish and receding lake shores. Hurricanes in 1976 and 1977 devastated much of the infrastructure and we are now left with barely surviving communities and a stark, seemingly dead place. Ruin of decades of human habitation is scattered around the lake. Proud communities still live here, but life has become much harder. Restoration efforts are simultaneously underway.
In the wake of this transformation, graffiti covered abandoned buildings remain, beaches littered with fish skeletons, often mimicking scenes from a post-apocalyptic SiFi movie. In fact, SiFi movies have been made there.
But there is something special here too. Hope personified, dreams challenged, art and music taking it all on. More time understanding this place would be a good thing.
There are many strange sites around the west. Salvation Mountain, both in form and location ranks high on the strange scale. On the southeastern Imperial Valley, only a few miles from the shores of of the ever more saline Salton Sea, lies a massive personal shrine to Christianity pretty much hand-built by Leonard Knight.
Made from hillside, adobe, straw and lots of bright paint, its colorful visage lies in stark contrast to the surrounding desert. There is a bit of a Twilight Zone quality to the place. Now that it's creator has passed away, this monument become something of a shrine to a man's faith and eccentricity. Many films and news reports have featured Leonard Knight and his mountain.
At Stephen Johnson Photography
Next Life From Venue at SJ Photo
The Life Form Exhibition will open at my Pacifica Gallery in the Pacifica Center for the Arts in mid-June. We are currently hanging the show.
Seeking Good Venues
We are seeking good venues to show this work. The Life Form Series is now available for museum and gallery exhibition.
We recently replaced the Epson 2400s in our lab with their new P600s and consequently have some printers to seed to photographers in need. We were also given some Epson Canvas to share. These are available for pick-up to those of you on my mailing list. Let me know of your interest. I do want to spread them out among a few people.
Don't forget to Check out our next workshops
Next Studio Workshop
Next Field Workshop
New Life Form Folio
The Life Form Folio
As we are premiering the Life Form Exhibition, I wanted to have a collectible item and record of the show prior to the full book I plan. So, now available is the 36 page 11x17 wire bound book, 5 years of work from 2013 to 2018 exploring these magnificent lives.
- Photographs from 2013-2018
- 36 pages
- 11x17 wire-bound book
New Exquisite Earth Exhibition Catalog
The Exquisite Earth Exhibition Catalog
As I've been on a roll on fixing bodies of work into POD books, I decided before the Exquisite Earth show could come down for new upcoming show, I wanted to create a printed record. So, now available is the 56 page 11x17 wire bound book, 5 years of work from 2005 to 2010 traveling this wondrous planet.
- Photographs from 2005-2010
- 56 pages
- 11x17 wire-bound book
New Pacifica Book
Pacifica: A Photographic Portrait of Land and Sea
- 74 pages
- 11x17 wire-bound book
- Pacifica Trail Map
- 32 years in Pacifica
- 10 years of calendars
Pacifica Trail Map by Pease Maps special to the Pacifica Land Trust.
11" x 17" folded
$10 (free shipping) proceeds go the Pacifica Land Trust a non-profit 501c3.
Gift Certificates for Prints and Workshops!
Emailed or shipped with beautiful gift note card.
Life Form Note cards
5x7 inches (sold-out, on backorder)
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
12 cards/envelopes $20 set
From "With a New Eye" Beautiful 300 line screen offset reproductions with envelopes in clear box. A great gift.
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