Stephen Johnson Photography News
Welcome to the August 2019 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
Journeys this month were greeted with much warmth and good will. A trip to the Central Valley saw family and friends. On July 20 at my studio, we had a great Landing Party for Apollo 11 with some new prints, new models, some great talks and remote interviews. Thanks to everybody for helping us share the anniversary.
This month's View From Here column highlights my recent photography from the giant Airship Hangar at Moffett Field, reflects on Apollo 11, and documents our Apollo 11 Landing Party. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.
FEATURED PRINT August 2019
Canon EOS 5DSr
9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print $195 each
An amazing structure, temporarily stripped of its skin, filling my view and casting very long shadows.
We're offering a 9.5x14 inch print of the photograph for $195, matted to 16x20 inch board. This print at this price is offered through August 31. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by September 15, 2019.
Our three new publications in honor of Apollo 11s 50 Anniversary have been well received. They include Apollo 11 Collectors Portfolio, the 50 Years of Space Photography Exhibition Catalog and the Apollo 11 Photography book. Our Landing Party went well. Check out our little video.
2019 and 2020 Workshop Schedule continues to form with great courses coming up. See what a great experience students have had on Steve's Workshops by exploring Workshop Testimonials.
Upcoming Events & Workshops
A Towering Dome. Moffett Field. 2019.
Canon EOS 5DS R
A wild play of line, cloud and shadow.
THE VIEW FROM HERE
by Stephen Johnson
Reflections on the Mission of Apollo 11
For all of humanity’s existence, to be human on this Earth, was to be inspired, perplexed and full of wonder at our Moon.
Those of us who lived through the first human touch on another world were amazed, impressed and relieved when Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon. The impossible seemed to have been done. Dedication, imagination, hard work and ever higher technology had bridged the gap between us and our heavenly beacon.
But our look back from 50 years later can inform us so much more deeply than we could understand at the time. The details we can now examine, details way beyond access and easy comprehension at the time, bring us into the experience with a much greater awareness of the procedures, complexity and possibility of mishap.
From 1969 to 1972, nine Apollo missions were sent to the Moon. Seven of the those flights were designed to land on the Moon. Six made it. All made it home.
In 1972, Apollo 17 flew to the Moon with Eugene Cernan, Harrison Schmitt, and Ronald Evans. Apollo 18, 19 and 20 had been canceled. It was our last voyage to the Moon. No human hearts have beat so far from the Earth since.
I find this sad and disheartening. We were on an upswing of exploration and adventure. Fortunately, the exploration has continued. Unfortunately, much of the spirit of adventure dissipated. It is not just that we stayed in low Earth orbit, but that the adventure of the Apollo program became a somewhat ordinary fact of history rather than the birth of a new age. We gained much from the experience, but delayed by a half century an opportunity for so much more.
This 50th Anniversary has reminded us of all of that.
At 13 years old, in July 1969, a young me (Steve Johnson) set up his little Sony black and white TV and his reel to reel audio tape recorder and began taping an evolutionary week for humankind. There are approximately 80 hours of tape spanning multiple stations, starting on July 4 through the safe return of Apollo 11.
from my July 16 Newsfeed where there is more detail.
The Apollo 11 Landing Party
Prior to the opening, I was immersed in fulfilling some print orders (which is great) and some publications relating to the Apollo 11 anniversary /50 Years of Space photography. New books/portfolios include the 50 Years of Space Photography exhibit catalog, an Apollo 11 Collectors Portfolio boxed-set of prints and the 94 page Apollo 11 Photography book.
As Apollo 11 was returning to the Earth (-50 years) I thought I would share some video from our July 20 Landing Party. Featuring an extended presentation on the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project by Dennis Wingo. Interviews with TV Correspondent Morton Dean and Saturn V Engineer Dr. Eugene Worley not yet included.
Our three new Space related publications were featured at the celebration, the 50 Years of Space Photography catalog, Apollo 11 Photography, and the Apollo 11 Collector’s Portfolio. All can be found on our Products page.
Here is the rough-cut video for those of you who couldn't be with us:
Interviews will be added later.
Hangar One. Moffett Field.
Last May I went down to NASA Ames to discuss the talk I am giving on August 15. I noticed when I was down there just how strange looking the old airship hangar looks now stripped of its toxic-laded skin. Sensing many photographic possibilities, I arranged to get inside to photograph.
The lattice-work of the structure was amazing, complex and a geometric wonder. I had no idea what I would end up with as photographs, and I thoroughly enjoyed the exploration. Its is, for me, what photography is all about, discovery out of reality.
I am still accustomed to serious photography meaning large-format cameras. In my deep plunge into digital photography in the early 1990s, this notion got transitioned into the digital age even more dramatically with the BetterLight 4x5 Scanning back seeming to out-resolve 16x20 film.
I was very pleased when Canon sent out their 50mp 5DRs in the spring of 2015. Even my first aerial tests with camera were very encouraging. Still, with its resolution, the camera is at its best with a tripod, treated as though it is a large-format camera. When going into an environment with great detail, like Hangar One at Moffett Field, I felt a little photographically naked, leaving my tripod on the Hangar floor and climbing into the structure needing the convince of a hand-held camera. But it was just the tool called for, deep detail and complete portability.
Maybe someday I will free myself from the notion that if I am doing serious photography, I should be weighed down by equipment. Instincts are hard to overcome. And in this case, they do help remind me, whenever possible, to use a tripod, move slowly and bring all of my options and control into play.
New Space Photography Products
Apollo 11 Collector's Portfolio
Apollo 11 Collectors Portfolio
A suite of photographs from Apollo 11. 12 pigment inkjet prints on letter-sized paper selected, edited and printed by photographer Stephen Johnson, in a portfolio box. The set includes a Mission Summary book, original US Postal Stamp commemorating the Mission, the Mission patch and a schematic of the Lunar Module. $250
50 Years of Space Photography Exhibition Catalog
The Exhibtion catalog featuring photograhs from Planetary probes, the Hublle Space Telescope, Lunar explorations, the Apollo program and Space Shuttle/Space Station images. Includes an exploration of the imaging technologies emplyed by the spacecraft.
68 pages, 8.5x11 inches
Apollo 11 Photography Book
A 96 page 8.5x11 inch collection of Apollo 11 photographs from launch to recovery including contact sheets for every surface Hasselblad photograph.
It’s the collection I wish I could have bought, so I made it.
-7 sections, Lunar Photo Equipment, Preparation, On the Way, Lunar Orbit, Tranquility Base, Heading Home, Relics
-Film Magazine proofs
Recently at Stephen Johnson Photography
On the Road
A quick trip to my homeland of the Central Valley made for some great visits with some relatives, friends, and a few new photographs.
Visiting my 82 year old uncle led to getting out the Canon 5DSr and using the video function to record a few hours of family history. I strongly encourage such acts, I will want do more recorded talks with him, but those few hours have already fixed precious memories that easily get lost over time.
For some time I have been wanting to see the custom car modification shop my friend Jacob Stone had set up in Fresno. I was very impressed with what he has built, and very grateful for the chance to make some photographs. It is a whole photo story waiting to be assembled.
On the road, landscapes I know kept sweeping by. As often happens, a promised arrival time kept me driving, when I could have stopped so many places. Things we make, the land we shape, the country itself, all kept me thinking how visually rich our world is.
The San Luis Reservoir is a study in superlatives and things out of place in the world. This huge lake is a water storage unit of the of the California State Water Project and is used jointly with the Federal Central Valley Project.
I have a long visual history with the place, in part because of my work on the The Great Central Valley: California’s Heartland, but also because I’ve driven past it so many times having grown up in the valley and so often heading for the coast.
I remember one day passing by the San Luis Reservoir, back in 1983. I was driving from the Valley on my way to Carmel, and was visually taken with the bleached dry grasses under a rare summer overcast. The light was soft and beautiful. For a long time, I have had an internal rule, when you see magic, you take the time to photograph. It could be soon gone, and will never look the same.
But I had to be in Carmel that afternoon. It was a big day in my life, I had the first copies of the At Mono Lake catalog with me and I was going to an event for Friends of Photography. It was the day I had planned to give Ansel Adams his copies of the book, both as a gesture of appreciation for his help, and as an act of pride in what I had done. I could not miss the event.
I vividly remember handing Ansel a copy of the book and his clear enthusiasm for the work I had done. I asked him if he would sign a few copies, and he said, “only if you’ll sign a few for me.” He said he was proud and impressed by what I had done. It was a great moment in my photographic life.
Even after that elation, the image 80 miles back of that beautiful light on those Pacheco Pass hills above the San Luis Reservoir kept haunting me. I drove back, the light was still soft, and I made photographs that I am still proud of to this day. In fact, in was another affirmation of my deepening affection for soft light and pastel color.
A Word on Oral Histories
My uncle is a story-teller. Many folks who have seen a bit of life are full of stories. Those stories are often lost. They don’t have to be. Just sitting down and chatting with the camera running can create a treasure-trove of family history. Do it. It is so easy.
In my most recent experience, we just started chatting. After a few minutes, I asked if I could record our conversations. I grabbed my Canon 5DSr and tripod, quickly set it up, just let the built-in mike pick-up the audio and continued chatting. I did stop after a few minutes to check that the audio was fine. We just kept talking until we were hungry for dinner. It was a great experience.
A couple of suggestions: know you video controls, make it quick to start. Fooling with a microphone will give you better audio, but tends to make some feel more onstage and less comfortable. I ended up with very high quality HD Video, reasonable sound, and a precious record of our conversation. I quickly assembled the cuts and mailed off some DVDs. There are so many more subjects I would love to hear him talk about.
Come Visit the Exhibitions
Check out my new 50 years of Space Photography Exhibition now joined with my Life Form Exhibition as Other Worldly for a mind-blowing journey from the living world close-up to the depths of space.
Come see the show when you can. Space and Awesome Life! A dive into cosmic extremes...
Please consider joining us on one of our upcoming workshops. Enrollment is the key to continuing to offer these classes and keep the studio running. We hope to hear from you.
In the Galleries
The new space exhibition has been getting some nice attention. It is being shown in conjunction with my current show or original photographs “Life Form.” The joint exhibition is called "Other Worldly.”
The upcoming Fine Art Printing in September, Mono Lake in October and Joshua Tree in November are open for enrollment now. Enroll while there is time and space!.
I’ve always been drawn to historical photographs and maps. I’ve been collecting 19th century books, engravings and now making scans of photos and maps. Printed on just the right paper and sheen, the reproductions are often vey special in their own right. So I’ve decided to make some of these prints available as I print them and discover more.
The first few are from the San Francisco Bay Area, local to my home in Pacifica, We’ll make them both available as 8x10 ($35-$45) and 11x14 ($75-$85) with larger sizes available for quote. The Gallery of current offerings where you can place orders can be found here.
Life Form Exhibition
Life Form opened in the Main Gallery at Stephen Johnson Photography in July 2018. The show has been extended through through 2019. We have had many visitors come by the gallery since the opening. Many have then joined workshops and certainly helped build community. Please come see the show. Pass the word.
Seeking Good Venues for Life Form
We are seeking good venues to show this work. The Life Form Series is now available for museum and gallery exhibition after August 2019.
Don't forget to Check out our next workshops
Next Studio Workshop
Next Field Workshop
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 new Life Form Gallery and its new Life Form Portfolio, 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.
Print Mentor Program
Many of my mentoring students have wanted help with their printing, often to make sure they can produce a specific print. Consequently, I am starting a Print Mentoring Program that sets up a 2 hour time slot and the production of a finished print, all with the tutorial video of how we did it together. Prints can be up to 16x20 and on either Hahnemühle Museum Etching or Photo Rag Pearl paper. Fee is $500. Email for more information and to set up times.
Free and For Sale
Free Stuff (a few items still left)
I have been printing out nice copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights on rich cotton paper. You are welcome to a copy if you come by the gallery.
Additionally, I rescued a few Besleler Enlargers, a 23c and 4x5, hoping to find good homes for them. Make an offer.
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
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
11x17 wire-bound book
New Pacifica Book
A collection of photographs in and around Pacifica California. Include a trail map.
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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