Stephen Johnson Photography News
Welcome to the September 2017 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
August was filled with travel and much wonder. Still way too much to really take in, but i'll give it a try in this month's Newsletter. Many photographs and a few stories.
This month's View From Here column documents our Crater Lake Eclipse workshop and some additional travels during August. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.
FEATURED PRINT September 2017
Pinnacles, Crater Lake. 2017.
Canon EOS-1Dx II
9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print on Cotton paper
I found the misty dawn with the strange towers backlit to be quite beautiful.
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
Crater Lake, the Eclipse and Mt. Lassen
My trip to Oregon for the Eclipse and our Crater Lake Eclipse workshop dominated the month. But so much else has transpired these past weeks that I'm trying to take in the whole picture, not just the cosmic wonder of the Total Eclipse of the Sun by our Lunar neighbor.
I was joined on the drive by my good friend (and workshop participant) Jim Fructermann. We had a nice ride together, including a drive up as high as the road would take us up the side of Mt. Shasta, to about 8500 feet.
As we arrived at Crater Lake for the first part of the workshop, the amount of smoke in the air was disappointing. It continued to effect our visit, but made for some never before seen views of the crater, the lake and Wizard Island.
Our plan to photograph the Milky Way seemed threatened by the smoke, but as the air temperature cooled, the smoke dropped and a number of us got some nice images the first evening of the class. The smoke haze was back the next day and did foil our intention of getting the Milky Way over the lake.
Road construction complicated our movement around the lake. Even closing the rim road from 9pm to 6am. That would have forced an entire circumnavigation of the lake late into the evening just get back to the Lodge. We were going for it anyway, but the smoke increased and our plans evolved.
The Pinnacles area of the Crater Lake seemed like a great dawn site for the second morning, so before class began we plotted out the sun angles and it looked promising. Encouraged by my friend (and workshop participant) Cheryl Dimont, who volunteered to join me, we ventured out on pre-dawn re-con the next morning. It was even more beautiful than we expected.
We took in many vistas around Crater Lake, circumnavigated it, visited my favorite overlooks, and hiked into some new areas for me like Plaiknii Falls. The class participants took to the falls with great affection. It was actually a little hard to persuade them to leave. I am always reluctant to hurry anyone away from a site, even after about an hour of photographing.
Crater Lake is iconic in form and difficult to photograph in reality. The view from the road is most of what we see. Our forays into the Pinnacles, Plaiknii Falls and the smoke gave it more dimension. Visiting Wizard Island as we did last year changes the view of the lake considerably. In our case, boat tours were down to only one boat and no landings were taking place. I remain most intrigued by the confluence of lava towers, water, and steep crater walls.
The biggest unknown of the workshop was just how much traffic we were going to encounter getting to our eclipse site. Stories of 50,000 people descending on the line of totality, gas shortages and massive traffic jams were all of concern. On the craters edge, we started hearing stories about many hour traffic jams people had seen on our route in. This was still four days before the eclipse. So I figured an alternative back way in to our orchard campground. At a workshop group meeting, we resisted a panic to skip sleeping and drive all night.
I was cautious about the logistics. Responsible for the group, I wanted to make sure no gas shortages hit us, and that we did our best to avoid the terrible traffic that had been predicted. We had even been warned to carry cash, as credit cards might not work during the onslaught of people. As we caravaned across the central Oregon desert back roads, we stopped for gas many times, toping off the tanks just in case the worst predictions had any merit.
Of course, as it turned out, our route the next day was fine. The scenery itself, so different than the days at Crater Lake, provided a stark contrast of open space, heat and desert. Many of the roads turned out to be so beautiful, that future visits to the area were crossing many of our minds. People along the way clearly were a little spooked at what might be coming, but most of the challenges seemed likely to be concentrated in the Madras area. That is exactly what we found. We breezed into Kimberly Oregon and our riverside home for the rest of the workshop.
The Azure Orchard campsite turned out to be a great choice for our eclipse headquarters and camping. Eastern Oregon is hot and dry in August, and the site among the organic Apple trees along the John Day River provided much need shelter and staging grounds for our site search the following morning. Swimming in the river after the eclipse was great as well.
On our day outing to the Painted Hills at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, we still weren't sure what kind of traffic we would encounter. And it began to show up. I had never seen the area so busy, and just as we were driving in, rangers shut off the road to cars. I was not happy about this road closure for workshop logistics, but as it turned out, it provided opportunities to see the hills walking along the road from locations that would not have been possible to park.
We were still seeking the ideal place to view the eclipse, knowing full well the orchard would be fine. A tip about a high school hang out up in the mountains from a young woman working the Grocery Store in Spray, led us into the national forest on a near dawn search the next morning. We found a good site, at about 4200 feet with more than a 180 degree view looking south across the valley.
The reconnoiter cut into the minute by minute eclipse rehearsal that we had planned for Sunday morning. We did set up all of our equipment and work out a number of bugs.
We were all excited on the Eclipse morning and anxious to get going. We carpooled to our viewing site, about an hour away from camp, encountered almost no traffic on the highway, and none on the back roads. Everybody had plenty of time to set up and get comfortable.
Accounts of the Eclipse are everywhere, and even though I experienced a much longer event in 1991 in Baja, this was an amazing and wonderful experience. Viewing the eclipse again made it clear why people chase these events all over the world.
I was surprised at the size of a a clearly visible and dramatic solar prominence on the upper right, and I had to know how big it was. The prominence seemed huge, and it was. By measuring the width of the sun, 865,000 miles wide, the earth being about 8000 miles wide, the size of the eruption is about 32,000 miles or about 4 earths high.
A total eclipse of the sun is an emotional experience. No matter how much you understand ahead of time what is happening, there is something in you that screams this cannot be happening. There is little in human life as constant as the sun. To have it transform into a black hole in the middle of the day is unnerving and simply wonderful. No words really prepare you for what you will feel. Night rushes toward you, the air turns chilly, the sun goes black and is suddenly surrounded by white flames reaching out to twice its size. That it lasts for any more than the briefest of moments is also remarkable.
Any eloquence I might hope for describing the eclipse seems to fail me. It is a life and cosmic connecting event. I cherish both times I've seen a total eclipse. I will forever treasure my little 18 month old daughter Sara pointing up to that 1991 Mexican sky with a black sun and saying, "daddy, moon." There are sacred moments in our lives. That was one for me.
Thanks again are extended to my good friend Stuart Worley for all of the help with the Crater Lake Eclipse Workshop. His idea to do an eclipse workshop, and all of the help with planning, logistics and shared worry is deeply appreciated.
Lassen National Volcanic Park
After the 2017 Eclipse and our workshop goodbyes, I drove down to Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California and spent two days wandering and climbing, finally giving this wonder more the attention I always intended.
Although I climbed to the top in 1987, my photographs seemed few and my memory was vague. I had in my mind such an easy walk that I clearly had forgotten the mile 2000 foot climb. At 61 I had to pace myself, back when I was 42 I don't remember any such need. It was a good walk up.
The nuances of this park are worth the effort. It is a new mountain, erupting in 1914 and building to its present state over the next few years. It feels raw. It is raw.
Of course, Lassen has forests, meadows and streams. Some are quite beautiful, both lush and burned. But my fascination has always been the volcanism, the earth releasing its core.
That doesn't mean that I don't stop and revel in the lush meadows and flowers. Quite to the contrary, they draw me in, give me comfort and appeal to all of my romantic instincts. I love such places and the explosion of life that they hold and gift back to me. But they are bonus here. In addition to the raw, there is this slice of iconic heaven.
The earth's upheaval and renewal is recent and visually very self-evident here.
Extensive burns are left from a large 2012 forest fire that swept through the northeastern part of the park. 15,506 acres of the park burned. Despite the obvious destruction, I always find the burned ares more visually intriguing than the lush coniferous forests. The feel-good quality of the green forest is reassuring and life-giving. But the burns are stark, mysterious and haunting. As we are now learning, they are also a natural part of forest regeneration.
Bumpass Hell Basin reminds me of Yellowstone with its sulfurous hot springs, with subtle warm color, steam and what seem like travertine deposits. The scent of sulfur in the air hit me before l could see the basin itself. Have I been hanging out in odd places that I was immediately drawn deeper into the idea of getting there with scent.
The climb up the 10,400 peak is uniquely its own place. As I think through volcanic rims I had the privilege of standing on, they are all quite different. Mt. St. Helens, Haleakala, and smaller domes like Panum Crate at Mono Lake, or Ubeheebe in Death Valley. The upheaval is different, the age and force make for substantially different sites. But the connection to raw earth in the making is unmistakable and magnetic.
Some thoughts from my iphone journal on my last night in the park:
There is something to the sound of open space. A low level buzz of insects, the slightest breeze through all of this topography, planes and cars mess it up, but they pass. A bird cries out in the distance. On this rocky boulder strewn slope, there seems to be no wildlife. No food here. They are all off in the forests beyond. Listening to the descending night.
A crescent moon peaks out through the clouds. The same moon that covered the sun only 3 days ago. Jupiter pops out to its left. The forest darkens to almost black. An occasional bird calls out. I sit and watch the colors change, the sky darken to deeper orange and finally to gray. The moon glows.
I keep trying to put the moon back over the sun in my mind. That black hole in the sky seems so much more. It is magic. It is physics and orbitals plots, but it is magic.
I turn to remark to a fellow on the ridge how beautiful it is. He agrees and asked about me seeing the eclipse. We exchange stories. He's a project manager at NASA Ames having just finished restoring the original lunar orbiter images from the 1960s. The conversation is friendly and full of enthusiasm for the eclipse, space exploration and photography. It is a good end to the day.
The Quirks of the Road
My wanders around the west continue to turn up roadside curiosities. Often made as protest, commentary or for advertisement, they fascinate me. This trip was no different, other than it was often hard for me to stop as I was leading a workshop with a different agenda and time line.
Penelope the Dragon in Yreka was actually commissioned by the Yreka Chamber of Commerce by local Yreka artist, Ralph Starritt. There is another piece just the south of town.
It is rarely clear exactly what is meant by these constructs, This farm field gang is in Round Valley, encountered on the way to Lassen. It could be celebration or apocalypse, or perhaps just fun. Hard to know. They all add to my Western Artifact Series.
Recently at Stephen Johnson Photography
We've done a few printing courses over the last month or so and seen some very dedicated students and and some fine photographs. Thought I'd share a few reviews from Yelp. The next Fine Art Editing & Printing Hands-on is September 16-19, 2017.
I was extremely fortunate to have attended Stephen's digital printing workshop this past weekend. The breath of knowledge and care shared with the class was absolutely wonderful....inspiring and exciting. Stephen is a wonderful teacher and master printer. He is exceptionally patient and articulate in Making sure to all questions are answered and provides and exceptional road map to successful confidence in printing that one can take home with them when they leave. If you have been thinking of attending this workshop...stop, and just sign up. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from a genuine teacher.
David S. from Danville, CA. 7/19/17
I took my digital inkjet printing to a whole new level after spending four days in Stephen's teaching studio learning about color management, consistent workflow across my devices & software, software printing controls, intricacies of various color spaces, viewing light, and most importantly - the making and managing of paper-specific printing profiles.
Also, Stephen is just a very nice person to work with. The course was very well structured and he kept to his learning outcomes, while also managing student questions and requests. You won't be disappointed.
Pablo K, Cherry Hill, NJ 7/31/17
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.
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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