Stephen Johnson Photography News
Welcome to the September 2019 Edition of the Stephen Johnson Photography Newsletter.
It’s been a month of work around the studio punctuated with some quick local trips that turned into rewarding photographic experiences. Of course, some photographic challenges arose along the way. I hope you enjoy the small narrative journey of this newsletter.
This month's View From Here column explores some recent photography, some of the issues raised and delights discovered. We hope you find the column interesting and will consider sending us some comments.
FEATURED PRINT September 2019
Canon EOS 5DSr
9.5x14 Pigment Inkjet Print $195 each
The soft glowing light and delicate form stopped me in my tracks. I love it when I can make a print that appears to glow, and this is one of them.
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 September 30. We'll be taking orders until then, and shipping them out by October 15, 2019.
Steve lectured at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA on August 15, 2019, delivering his new talk “The Wonder of Photography, Nature and the Cosmos.”
Now that school has started, we are scheduling class visits to the Space Exhibit. We encourage teachers and parents to be in touch.
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
THE VIEW FROM HERE
by Stephen Johnson
Cosmic Musings, Local Haunts
My recent wanderings have largely been local, down the coast, up the coast and back to one of my favorite haunts, Shelldance Orchid Gardens here in Pacifica.
A few months ago, as we were opening my 50 Years of Space Photography exhibit, I reached out to a number of people and ended up in touch with some people at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. That effort got word out around Ames about my show and came back with an invitation to give a talk at the Center.
I was concerned that there would be little for me to say to people at NASA who already knew more that I could possibly add about the moon, or the planetary and deep space photographs I had pulled together for the show.
My host, Chief Scientist at the Ames Research Center, Jacob Cohen, encouraged me that I could bring a unique perspective given my life in the arts and the development of this exhibit.
I took on the idea, and ended up realizing that the evolution of our human fascination with the cosmos, the development of optics, photography, growing interest in the natural world and the space program, all paralleled my own evolution of interest.
So I was humbled, and honored, to pull those thoughts together and speak at NASA Ames on my recent work and thoughts on the inspirations of our species and my own journey from NASA’s photography.
I bought about fifteen 40 inch prints along from the Other Worldly exhibition, placed two on stage and the others in the auditorium lobby.
Although I didn’t have anyone to tape the talk, I set up a camera, let it run, and did a Screenflow capture of my laptop presentation and webcam which I have edited together. It’s not a high end pro-production, but a reasonable record.
As an experiment, I would like to see if I can recover some of the costs of putting on the space exhibition by adding a $4 pay-per-view option to my Vimeo posting of the the talk. Let me know what you think from the preview above.
Weekend outings in the San Francisco Bay Area are getting ever more influenced by the growing traffic. Sometimes we just don’t have the energy to endure the clogged roads and prefer to stay very local. But we also overcome that reluctance.
Last week, the Marin Headlands beckoned and we had a fine day. The light was subdued and it proved a great wander. Whether the Point Bonita Lighthouse, the views back at San Francisco, or the meeting of land and sea, it is a pleasure to knock around. All of the WWII gun emplacements, even after more than 75 years, remain scary.
Anytime we are near the Marine Mammal Center near Fort Cronkhite in the Marin Headlands, we have to stop by. We are such admirers of their work, that dropping by seems to be an imperative. The place is a tribute to how we work to do good, trying to right harm from natural and man-made injury.
I seem to be in a deep push to open up shadows in my photographs, seeking a realism I see in the real world, but rarely in black-shadow driven interpretations. I am seeing a gentler world than many photographs I see depict. The lust for contrast and drama is not generally something I feel pulled to. The cover image of the Rodeo Lagoon gave me a good opportunity to work toward an interpretation that sought to portray that light-filled scene I witnessed.
Completely unplanned, we ended up driving to the top of Mt. Tamalpais and enjoyed the great panoramic views from its summit. While driving up the mountain, I realized it may have been nearly 30 years since I had been up there. Time flies is an understatement.
The view from the top of Mt. Tam is unparalleled. It’s sweep from ocean to city, to bay and Mt. Diablo to the east, encompasses the reach of the bay area more than any other place. Clear or dappled in fog, it is always worth the effort of going up to the top.
A birthday celebration took us on a Whale Watching trip mid-month.
A bank of fog hanging over Monterey Bay when we set out from the Moss Landing Harbor, was not encouraging. Heading out, the fog got worse. For a time it seemed we were going to have to accept a no-whale whale watch and just be glad we made effort.
But the tour-guides seemed to be in good communication and other boats helped guide to where a couple of humpback whales were feeding. There are, of course, very strict rules about not approaching the wildlife, so once you are within view, the closeness of your encounter is completely up to the whale and the food it might be following.
We were lucky, although the encounter was brief, one did turn and swim right alongside our boat.
My Whale Photography Reminders to Myself
-Grab the fastest camera (good quality high IOS, good quick Auto-Foucs), Canon EOS 1DX II was my camera of choice.
-the sharpest flexible long lens I have. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
-don’t be afraid of noise, crank the ISO (at least 1000) to get a very fast shutter, greater than 1/1000 of a second.
-full zoom may make it too hard to get the leaping whale in the frame before its gone. Be moderate until you get a good feel for the situation.
-be sure to enjoy the experience, even if you miss the whale.
We also did get lucky locally and saw a few Humpback Whales come through the outskirts of Pacifica’s shoreline.
It’s nothing like the visits we had a few years ago, but any time I can stand on the cliffs down from my home and watch whales swim and occasionally lunge, life seems good.
It was so quiet out yesterday that I could hear their blow as clear as if I was on a boat nearby. The sky was gray and slowly darkening, getting cold, but I stayed with the watch and photo effort for about 45 minutes. The challenge is getting the camera with a long lens on the whale as soon as they rise out of the water. That micro-second is needed for the auto-focus to work, before they disappear underwater.
My friend Cheryl Dimont came by for a few days in August and we did a few day trips together. Cheryl had been out to find some taffoni rock formations, and Salt Point State Park, north of Jenner, had enticed her northward up from LA. When she came by the studio, I also had some suggestions south on Highway One, and off we went.
The rocks of the Bean Hollow State Reserve beach are remarkable. I’ve been stopping at the Pebble Beach section since the early 1970s. I find solace and wonder there.
I take field trips to the beach and rocks, I stop by to listen to the surf and seek renewal. It is a good place.
The Fitzgerald Reserve
Much closer to home, just a a few miles from my studio, is a place I often return to. I keep taking people, both students and friends. The Fitzgerald Marine Reserve is a great San Mateo County park. Known for its tidepools, students from all over the county visit regularly. But it is the cliffs and Cypress forest above that keeps drawing me back.
Photography keeps me engaged in experiencing and trying to understand the world. Even when the photographs may have little chance of moving others, I find value in the making of the images. I think that is true of most art, we make it because it fulfills something in our heart’s longing.
Recently at Stephen Johnson Photography
Around the Studio
A few creatures found their way into my life in the last few weeks.
Tragically, the sound of a door slamming at home turned out to be a beautiful California Quail that flew into our high living room windows. I found him on the deck, still warm, but with a broken neck and no longer alive. The bird was such a beautiful creature, I was unable to just bury him, I had to try to photograph. Even with focus stacking, making a focused image did turn out to be challenging. Multiple tries had me making ever smaller moves between focus points, going to my highest res camera, the Canon 5DSr, and still needing to stop down a bit more than normal.
That very same morning a Cecropia moth was sitting next to my studio entrance. He was holding on dearly to the rocky pavement, with a breeze blowing his wings around. I could not even tell if it was still alive, but was unwilling to disturb it to find out. They only live for a day, cannot even eat, I was not gong to let my desire to preserve his beauty interrupt that short journey. The moth was gone the next morning, blown away or consumed by another creature. I don’t know. Feeling its presence in my life that day did have me going out to keep an eye on it throughout the day. I felt protective, even being unwilling to interfere.
This followed another beautiful moth coming by a few weeks before. The resulting photographs were little more than documents, but the beauty of these creatures was haunting, and I had to at least try to hold onto their form. I show them here now only as illustration of the privilege I felt to see them and create these little records.
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. The kid’s reactions have been inspiring to me.
Workshops Coming Up
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!.
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 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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