Stephen Johnson Photography News
Welcome to the November 2019 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
A Canon Explorer of Light talk at Glazer’s Camera in Seattle brought me up to the Pacific Northwest last week. The talk went well and the weeklong journey around the Olympic Peninsula and over to Mount Rainier left me with some wonderful Washington visions. A week in Yosemite, only a week before, made for a very full month.
This month's View From Here column explores my recent trips to the Pacific Northwest and Yosemite and touches on our stewardship of our National Parks. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.
Check out the workshops we’ve added, including our popular Highway One Coastal Journey class coming right up, with Black and White Printing and Death Valley in Winter workshops in January.
FEATURED PRINT November 2019
Foggy Sun and Trees. Pacifica, CA. 2019.
Canon EOS 5DSr. EF24-105mm Lens
9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print $195 each
The sky above my studio was spectacularly fogged over yesterday, the sun barely visible. Photographing the scene was a sheer pleasure. It was almost effortless, just hold the sky, and everything else will be fine. It was.
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 November 30. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by December 15, 2019.
With all of the travel of late, most all of my work has been tied up with image processing and preparing this newsletter. But, many good plans are developing for 2020. I hope you will stay tuned.
Now that school has been on for a few months, we continue to encourage class visits to the Space Exhibit. We hope teachers and parents will be in touch to arrange a visit.
Our 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
Canon EOS 5DSr. EF24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens
Wandering Seattle just south of Lake Union, I came across a complexity unexpected complex of visual delight next to the iconic Space Needle. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen funded a wonderful building designed by Frank Gehry. It is a bizarre and dynamic wave of form and color made into a building. It’s purpose has evolved over the years, but to a novice like me, it was an amazing find.
According to MoPop’s website “When Frank O. Gehry began designing the museum, he was inspired to create a structure that evoked the rock ‘n’ roll experience. He purchased several electric guitars, sliced them into pieces, and used them as building blocks for an early model design.”
THE VIEW FROM HERE
by Stephen Johnson
My annual trip to New York’s PhotoPlus trade show didn’t happen this year as they discontinued their seminar program that I have been teaching at since the mid-1990s. An opportunity came up to present a Fine Art Printing seminar in Seattle at Glazer’s Camera and it became a Pacific Northwest journey.
I never intend for this newsletter to seem like travelogue, but the past month has been so full of sights that it’s hard to resist.
Flying up the Pacific Coast, I’m always hopeful I get to see Mount Shasta, and even with the wing somewhat in the way this time, I managed a photograph (see below) that clearly displayed the isolated volcanic cone that it is, albeit, huge.
Glazer’s Camera is on the north side of downtown Seattle near the Space Needle in an extensively modernized neighborhood. I enjoyed walking around, and typically discovered things I knew nothing about.
From the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union, to the Museum of Pop Culture below the Space Needle. Both were wonderful discoveries of almost completely polar opposites, one harkening back to long established crafts, the other reaching into futuristic architecture.
After my Printing talk, I was very happy to see my old friend Lisa Wellman, former VP at Apple and now a Washington State Senator. Lisa has started a whole new chapter in an already accomplished life, working hard on education and economic development. Her travel schedule and energy were impressive.
The wander around Seattle was fun. Sitting near the Space Needle had it towering into the sky anytime I had a vista to the west. The sun was very nearly behind the tower, which had me looking for a vantage point where the sun would be behind the saucer. Buildings prevented the view at the time, but in working with the backlit icon, and bringing the exposure way down to hold the super bright clouds revealed some spectral break out which was fun to record.
The Olympic Penninsula
I love the landscape of the Olympic Peninsula. I first came to Washington state with my old friend and former student Doug Doniger in a long trip a year after Mt. St. Helens erupted. The devastation from St. Helens was everywhere around the mountain and for miles westward.
But the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula made a lasting impression, and I have been back many times.
Adding to my desire to visit is always a chance to see my old friend Gay Hunter. I knew Gay from the California Academy of Sciences where she worked in the Entomology Department and my exhibit At Mono Lake was on display. Gay later moved up north to work for Olympic National Park. She was one of my climbing heroes helping carry equipment up to the top of Mt. St. Helens when we climbed if for my digital national parks project in 1995. She’s been a friend ever since, and we had a good visit this trip.
As we buy wood, live in wood homes and use paper, we promote logging. It is a reality we shy away from, our love of forests is often expressed on paper made from those forests. Irony often surrounds our appreciation of nature from our modern “civilized” lives.
Seeing clear-cut areas is deeply disturbing, but it happened because of our desire for cheap lumber and maximum profit. The practice is changing, and much of our forest products now come from Canada.
Olympic National Park
Established in 1938 and encompassing 922,000 acres, Olympic National Park is home for spectacular mountains, rainforests, and dramatic coastlines.
As the National Park Service describes it “the park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline.”
The park was “established …. in part to preserve some of Washington's quickly disappearing primeval forests. Now the park protects one of the largest remaining blocks of old growth forest and temperate rain forest in the lower 48 states.”
Elwha River Restoration
Tearing down a dam and restoring a river ecosystem is a really big deal. The story of the Elwha River restoration next to Olympic National Park is a story of redemption and the earth’s ability to heal.
Industrial development not only impacts cities, but often consumes natural landscapes to support cities. The Elwha Dam and Glines Canyon Dam projects were a hydroelectric project, but took with it a free flowing river and salmon run. It stood for 80 years and took a long campaign and an act of Congress to take both down.
The site is largely restored and the salmon run returned with remarkable speed.
The Hoh Rain Forest
Every trip I’ve made to the Hoh Rain Forest has been a completely different experience. For all of my fascination on the first trip in 1981, this trip and the walk down the Hoh River Trail was very precious. The silence, the bare sound of water dripping from the tress, the scent of mist and fecundity, all made the stroll singular. It reminded me of a few places in Alaska, but was clearly its own place.
The Hoh is another world. Only the decaying fallen leaves and wet earth seem terrestrial. Much of the Hoh seems more of science fiction than real earth. But the earth is so very real here, life everywhere. Water from the sky feeding it, every niche filled with organisms, flora and fauna. So much here is unseen, micro-organisms working their way through the fallen foliage, water being held, plants growing every which way, up, down, and sideways.
Rock Spires abound along the Olympic Coast. Rialto Beach, Ruby Beach and so many more. They seem like sentinels, guarding this coast, standing up to the mighty Pacific longer than human time can fathom. Sometimes called “sea stacks,” these towers transform the beach into a very different interplay with the sea. They do seem to rise in resistance. They draw us to them.
I have a few photographs of these spires from my national parks project with the Betterlight Scanning Back. The water moved during minute long exposures, the rock steadfast. They became interesting encodings.
Mount Rainier National Park is home for the giant volcano that looms over Seattle and outward standing over 14,411 feet. Like Shasta, it seems to stand huge and alone, not because its surrounding lands are flat, but because it stands so tall over everything else. Known by native peoples as Tacoma, this mountain is home for 25 glaciers and has a topographic prominence of 13,210 ft. exceeded only by Mount Everest. The park was established in 1899 and holds almost 250,000 acres.
It is not easy to photograph volcano Rainier uniquely. The giant and its surrounds can certainly be portrayed, but the complexity of the mountain, its lava flows, glaciers and sheer size is a challenge. Both in abstraction and design, the features on the mountainside are almost too much to take in and sort out. I tried. It is a complex mountain.
Yosemite in Autumn
Earlier in October, on the full moon, I spent some more time in and around Yosemite. The giant El Capitan was again lit-up by camping rock climbers under the starry night. We got to watch the moon rise from Glacier Point. The trip took in some sights I rarely get to, including the original Inspiration Point and Hetch Hetchy.
At Hetch Hetchy
Fifteen miles north of magnificent Yosemite Valley, the Toulumne River formed the valley’s smaller twin, Hetch Hetchy Valley. Also carved by a glacier, Hetch Hetchy was naturally included in Yosemite National Park when it was created in 1890.
After the 1906 Earthquake, San Francisco set its sights on Hetch Hetchy Valley as a potential dam site and reservoir for the city. In 1913, the City of San Francisco won its effort to dam the Tuolumne River where it flowed through Hetch Hetchy. The National Park Service did not yet exist, newspaper editorials across the country weighed in against the project, but the power of San Francisco prevailed and the O’Shaughnessy Dam was built, the valley flooded.
As an engineering project it seemed ideal, water storage piped to the city 120 miles away and free power. As an exercise in stewardship of our National Parks, it is a enormous failure. San Francisco Water and Power sees it differently. Fresh, clean water and power for millions of people. John Muir called Hetch Hetchy “one of nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.” He spent the last years of his life fighting to stop the project. He lived long enough to know he failed.
Much like the smaller Elwha Dam removal in Olympic National Park, a group is working to remove the dam and Restore Hetch Hetchy Valley.
“Dam Hetch Hetchy? As well dam for water tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.” -John Muir
Recently at Stephen Johnson Photography
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.
We welcome schools to bring their classes by, kids and college students. The kid’s reactions have been inspiring to me, both for the space exhibition and Life Form.
Workshops Coming Up
The Highway One Coastal Journey class is coming right up, with Black and White Printing and Death Valley in Winter workshops in January. All are open for enrollment now. Enroll while there is time and space!.
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.
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 Space Photography Products
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
Life Form Folio
The Life Form Folio
When we premiered 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
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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