Stephen Johnson Photography News
Welcome to the June 2017 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
Teaching, photographing from ground and air, whales, working on new POD books and my Life Form exhibit. A busy time. Carrying the loss of my friend Michael Collette with a very heavy heart.
FEATURED PRINT June 2017
Tiered Sun above Pacific. 2017.
9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
Watching the sun transform through the refractions of dense horizon air is one of the constant pleasures of living here on the the west coast. The fracture and forms are endless. This time I had grabbed the camera.
Many Greens and Red. Pacifica.. 2017
A eucalyptus stand from our Pacifica workshop.
I just finished work on a new Pacifica book, a gathering of work from my Pacifica Calendar series over the last few years and other photographs I've made in the course of living here for 30 years. I'm happy to have Ben Pease's great trail map as part of our outreach to bring attention to the natural wonders of Pacifica.
2017 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 new Panoramic Prints we've added to 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.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
by Stephen Johnson
A Very Full Month
Much has happened since the last newsletter, much of it unrelated, except through the measure of time. I've had some very nice photographic experiences, mostly through being lucky enough to have stumbled into something special.
I've also found myself in the position to use my photography to express appreciation, fascination, and bring good memories to the present.
We had a very productive Fine Art Printing Workshop with a lot of thoughtful work and careful development of craft. I very much enjoyed helping people out and seeing their pride in their prints.
Our Pacifica Nature's Gem workshop went well, with interesting form and a nice group of people.
The Oak above allowed for a very effective demo of the default setting limitations in raw processors which can severely truncate the image. As we discussed this in the field, it was a perfect set-up for learning how much more is actually in the image than revealed by the initial pre-set interpretation that a raw processor starts with. The black silhouette of the tree limbs became real wood and nuanced life with texture and form, as we saw with our own eyes only hours before.
The whales seem to be returning to our shoreline here in Pacifica. We've been on the lookout for weeks now, hoping for some white blows on the horizon, or even better, some close in visits. So far, I have not seen any close, but reports from around town has our cetacean friends back. I find that comforting and exciting.
Life Goes On
The sun rises another day, we are grateful for our hearts beating, for those we love and this treasured planet. Despite the battles that seem to have to be waged to keep things good and getting better, life is wondrous.
We all know that with this preciousness, there is also loss.
Michael Collette, inventor of the BetterLight Scanning back, passed away on May 11 from a cancer he had been battling since last summer. Mike was the designer, engineer, builder and user of the BetterLight Scanning back, the extraordinarily high resolution digital insert for 4x5 cameras that changed the history of photography and birthed my national parks project With a New Eye.
Mike was an amazingly bright and sensitive man. His voice was rich, once even working as a radio DJ. His curiosity and belief in his ability to achieve a dream was deeply inspirational to me.
He was an engineer in Palo Alto when he was pondering a digital camera design for large format cameras. In 1992, he resigned from his job, went home and designed, then built and wrote the software for that very camera. We went out in San Francisco in January of 1994 and tested his hand-built prototype against all sorts of 4x5 film. The film failed miserably by comparison. My photographic life changed forever that day.
Although the scanning back was based on film scanning principles, Mike had a huge task in making the design portable and adapt to needs of an adjustable field camera. He made it all work. Elegantly. With huge empowerment to the world of photography. Art museums across the world use his camera to preserve their collections.
He was my good friend. I will miss him terribly.
I will write more about Mike when my sorrow eases a bit. The photograph of Mike Collette is from my 1996 birthday.
A Community Loss
The last video rental store in Pacifica closed after more than 30 years. It was still a good business, but raising rents pushed owners Sheila and Dave Burch into shutting down a local institution Nickelodeon Video. Sheila was a warm and friendly presence in our town, knowing my kids since they were babies.
Even with online movies, we frequently found ourselves popping down to Nickelodeon Video to browse and pick something out. If a movie didn't exist in DVD or Blu-ray, she likely had a VHS copy. They also ran a used electronics business on the side, my gallery flat-screen came from Nickelodeon.
Community comes in many forms, and a local storefront has been part of the community experience probably as long as markets have existed in human communities. We are very sorry to see this one go.
A Visiting Wonder
A beautiful moth landed outside my studio and stayed there. It seems to be a Cecropia. It is a spectacular creature. They only live for a few days and don't even have a way of eating.
For two days now, it is staying put, perhaps a female waiting for a mate. Looks like it is there for its short long haul. My photographs so far are of this beautiful live wonder who will shortly die. I can't disturb it, but it will be such a shame if is dies and simply falls to the ground and starts to fall apart. It has been a deep privilege to see this precious living work of art and feel an innate respect for its life and beauty, then learning a bit about its brief life-cycle. It seems a little morbid, but I do want to save it and make better photographs than I now can. Photographing the dead has its own dark feelings but natural beauty, in whatever form, is so much of what I feel passion for. We'll see how it goes.
I kept celebrating its life and how lucky I feel to see it. An afternoon wind came up though, and it was gone the next morning.
The International Space Station
An email came in last Thursday alerting me that the ISS HD Earth Viewing Experiment was back up live from the International Space Station. Naturally I logged on, and saw a cloud covered world with the bright sun striking the station. It seemed a vast and fragile earth below. I stared at the screen while the station moved forward in its 17,000 mph orbit, they earth seeming to rotate below.
Of course, that experience reminded me that I hadn't watched the space station fly overhead for awhile. So I launched my iphone App GoISSWatch and a perfect flyover was only 25 minutes away. The stars seemed to be aligning, so to speak.
We gathered on the front porch, anxiously awaiting its first visibility. It was one of the most beautiful flyovers we've seen. Clear starry sky, the ISS straight overhead, the brightest object visible, racing across the sky, but still taking many minutes.
From the ISS
The constant sun in space
except in orbit
brief earth shadow night
half of an hour and half
There is no weather 250 miles up
Out from Earth,
around this sun
there is only sun
4 billion years, and billions more
That searing light
even from 93 million miles
radiates outward into the chill of space
able to heat only what it can strike
only on the sunny side, unscattered shadows succumb to space cold
With that light
outside our thin protective veil of air
pours a torrent of cosmic rays, x-rays, gamma rays
sometimes eruptive of still more power
the real and constant environment around this
deadly and life giving star
This is our home
under the safety blanket of our air
seeming clear at night, falsely blue in daylight
filled with water, filled with life
foolish, unaware human life
so finite, in such infinite cold space
We are a spectacular exception
to everything around us,
for light years or more, perhaps forever.
Everything we truly need is already here
except perhaps wisdom
Recently at Stephen Johnson Photography
The Pacifica Book. Pacifica: A Photographic Portrait of Land and Sea
A few weeks ago a fellow dropped by the Studio interested in our 2017 Pacifica Calendar, and bought one on the spot. A few days later he came in and asked if older Pacifica Calendars were available. He bought two more and we ordered yet another that were out of stock. All told, my new friend Ralph bought 4 calendars from current and past years.
This re-sparked an old idea, why not assemble all of these Pacifica Calendar I've done over the years into a print-on-demand book? I gathered all of the old InDesign files and started working. As always, a simple idea became more complex than I would have liked, but that is the nature of almost everything in the arts.
The result is an evolving 74 page 11x17 wire bound book. 32 years in Pacifica, 10 years of calendars and a lot of answers as to why I stay in this beautiful setting. We are offering it for $50
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.
20 scenes in and around Pacifica, California where Stephen Johnson Photography is located. Full page trail map included. Printed on a color laser digital press.
11" x 17" $25.00
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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