Stephen Johnson Photography News
Next Field Workshop:
Welcome to the February 2018 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
The biggest news is the opening of my Life Form Exhibition at the Viewpoint Gallery and Art Center in Sacramento March 10, 2018 with a Lecture on March 11. We'll being sending out a separate notice for the opening.
FEATURED PRINT February 2018
Brush on Dune. Death Valley. 2018.
9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
I never tire of walking through Death Valley's Sand Dunes. As with most trips, this dawn brought some new and evolving work.
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.
Ubehebe Crater, Death Valley. 2018.
Radial converging lines, I love this place.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
by Stephen Johnson
Most of my attention is on preparing for the opening of my Life Form Exhibition at the Viewpoint Gallery and Art Center in Sacramento March 10, 2018. It is filling the work days with framing, rechecking captions, building some promo materials and raising framing funds through the Exhibit Construction Kickstarter project. All is going well and my excitement at showing the work is growing daily. I'm proud of the work and delighted the Viewpoint Gallery has chosen to be the premier site.
My Death Valley workshop always takes me through a wide range of California landscapes. Just to get there, I drive south along the coast, cut inward down HWY 101 south through the Salinas Valley, turn east along HWY 46 past the James Dean crash site and over the hills to lonely west side of Kern County and the San Joaquin.
The journey then takes me through the home of western country music, oil and cotton, Bakersfield, over the Tehatchapi with their oaks and complex railroad, past the winds farms, then drop into the Mojave desert.
No road trip ever has enough time. Every time I squeeze in a must do trip and cut out wandering, I regret it. This trip was no exception. Launching the Life Form Construction Kickstarter Project before I left created a departure squeeze, then meeting with the Viewpoint Gallery coordinator just after I returned meant. I had to get back. To my delight, the morning after the workshop was a Lunar Eclipse which I wanted to stay in Death Valley for.
It reminds me of past opportunities truncated by responsibilities elsewhere. I had to cut short a great river trip down the Colorado in the Grand Canyon and walk out from Phantom Ranch to the south rim with all of my gear. It was a double hit, I've still never been down the rest of the river, plus the heat and weight of my cameras. I use to say that was the hardest walk I had done, but then Mt. Helens climb came along in 1995.
Most of the looking around was not wandering, but the planned itinerary of my Death Valley Workshop. I realized on the trip that this was likely my 32nd. workshop in Death Valley. The number seemed unbelievable. But then again, so is the place. It may be hard for me to make photographs unrelated to what I have photographed before, but there is an endless fascination here. It often takes a long time to see through early impressions and distill what feels essential. That seems to be an ongoing process.
When I first started to photograph is Yosemite, it was with a keen awareness of Ansel Adams work there. In a sense, I wish my first exploration had been without that knowledge. It is true though that those photographs Ansel made helped inspire me to photograph. It is also not surprising to me to realize that I never showed Ansel any of my Yosemite photographs. Inspiration, homage, and striking out on our own ground, all are part of this process of evolving into our vision. Hopefully that vision reflects the heartfelt aspirations that we slowly understand and evolve. Recognizing the photographs that do speak to your own heart is probably that greatest perceptive goal we can attain. Touching others is important, but we have find a way of letting our heart speak first.
Every time I revisit the precipice of Dante's View, I am humbled by the space and wonder within site. Looking to the north is probably over 100 miles of valley, the south likely 75. The valley floor a mile below is the endless abstraction of the salt-flats of the old lake bed and the Amargosa River. I have made scores of photographs over the years of those salt-flats, and don't need to make more. But the sensuality and abstraction continue to be irresistible. Even if photographs I've already made have pleased me, the joy of seeing it in subtly different ways continues to make me get out the camera.
My first visit to Death Valley in 1978 impressed me in many ways. The vastness was certainly part of that lasting impression. The paved roads crossing that space seemed strange, almost undulating over the rises and falls of the land, defining with an out of place little geometric imposition the wild, unruly geography of millions of years.
I think I may have learned to photograph in Death Valley. The challenge of seeing simply amid such complexity, intuiting design, simplifying color, being seduced by winter's soft light, then being determined to rise to the challenge of bright sunlight and shows, all of these things forced me to grow.
Photography has so much to do with intention. Why do we photograph? To make things. To have an excuse to be out and about in the world. For love of technology. For the fascination of holding a moment or memory. To witness wonder. To share the remarkableness of the world around us.
It is in that wonder, that witness to the remarkable that drives me forward. I want to record what I see, and try to find voice for my heart. I want to touch others hearts. I want to cause others to care.
Those desires create a rather straight line for me. I want my color photographs to represent what I saw. I want my black and white photograph's content literal but abstract. For me, as photographs, both need to be what was there, what I saw, what seduced me into making a photograph.
This photographic sojourn is a never-ending journey for me. It is the lust to wander, the drive to understand, the compulsion to feel, the drive to share and move others. These are my photographic motivations and inspirations.
Death Valley is just one place, of so many, that have touched me. As I occasionally look back over these last 40 years of work, so many memories are jogged by the photographs, and so many photographs brought to mind by the memories. It all leaves a much richer sense of my life than would otherwise still be with me. The images often make real vague images of the past. I enjoy that give and take between mind and image.
Walking out onto the salt flats is an otherworldly experience–the space, the scent of salt in the air, the delicate crunch of the salt plain.
I was playing with the salt flats and bright sun as HDR files, and exploring time-lapse. Then, of course, the moon popped up over the mountains and broke that idea off. The moon seems so perfectly round above ragged rocky mountains.
Titus Canyon is a parade of geologic wonder. I think my next workshop here will devote a whole day to this place. There is so much here that the drive through always seems rushed. It is a place you could stop every few hundred feet.
Can stone actually glow. It can in Titus Canyon.
Any workshop ending has its own bit of sadness after forming our little workshop family. The drive home from Death Valley is about 9 hours for me, which is always challenging. But coming home the Pacific is comforting in ways it is hard to describe. Living next to the sea for almost 33 years has made a bond between the ocean and with whatever it is that is essential about Steve.
Don't forget to Check out our next workshops
Next Studio Workshop
Next Field Workshop
At Stephen Johnson Photography
Most of my attention at this point is preparing for the Life Form show in March. Odering frames, cutting down matt board, getting help with the 8-ply overmatts and with assembling the frames.
I am fortune to have the help of old friends, Darin Steinberg cutting near perfect matt and Carl Schwab helping with assembly. Both of there friends were once students of mine, some 30 years ago when I taught at Skyline College.
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.
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
- 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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