Stephen Johnson

Stephen Johnson

Areas of Expertise:

  • photography
  • digital photography
  • art
  • aesthetics
  • consulting
  • speaking
  • training
  • writing
Stephen Johnson is a photographer, designer and teacher. His photographs have appeared in numerous publications including American Photo, Audubon, Life Magazine, Landscape Magazine, Pacific Discovery, Sierra Magazine, U.S. News and World Report and The New York Times, to name a few. Internationally recognized as a digital photography "pioneer," Johnson's photographs are part of the permanent collections of many institutions including the Oakland Museum, the Getty, the City of New York, Apple Computer, and the National Park Service. Also known as a masterful educator, he has been running a workshop program 25 years, and has help to build a wondrous portable digital lab, the "Magical Digital Bus". Among his many awards and recognition for his groundbreaking work was his induction into the Photoshop Hall of Fame in 2003, grants from the NEA, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, California Arts Council, Adobe, Apple and many others.

Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography
by Stephen Johnson
August 2006

"Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography is a well written, easy to follow, easy to understand, and very approachable introduction to digital photography as both a science and an art form. While most books on digital photography work only with the digital darkroom options this book provides a detailed understanding of each step of creating a digital photograph including how the camera works and why it is important for you to understand how it works. He discusses how various camera features affect the end result. And because of this more complete approach to the subject as well as the quality of the information Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography is a highly recommended purchase."
--Harold McFarland, Harold's Bookshelf

"This book lives up to every outstanding review! In my opinion Stephen Johnson has produced a masterpiece."
--Gary Lester

"In his fine book, Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography, the internationally renowned shooter agrees, explaining that preparation is critical: A monitor properly calibrated to show the true colors of the print, correct printer and paper settings, restraint on enlarging a small photo file to an unrealistically large size, and restraint, period. "Take it slow and understand your choices," Johnson writes. "Don't flail about pushing buttons, turning on features you don't yet understand, and printing as though there were no costs involved.""
--Stephen Williams, Newsday

"Beyond being a history book, On Digital Photography also provides useful technical and artistic discussions. Those looking for a discussion on aesthetics will find chapters on composition and artistry. Those interested in the art and journey of Stephen Johnson will find lots of information about Johnson’s personal journey as an artist and a pioneer of digital photography. Those who are looking for a “how-to” book will find chapters on color management and on Photoshop techniques...Encyclopedic in its breadth, On Digital Photography might cover more areas than some photographers will want to know. Nevertheless, this is a good book to “fill in the gaps” of one’s understanding of how digital imaging came to be. Anyone truly interested in digital photography will find everything in this book of interest. "
--Dan Landis, Tripod Camera Club

"The book has helped broaden my overall knowledge of digital photography. In viewing the book’s side by side comparisons (same scene) of film vs. digital exposures, the most serious doubter will be convinced."
--John Donan, Orange Bytes (North Orange County Computer Club)

"Stephen Johnson On Digital Photography, by one of the first and leading practitioners in the field, gives insight into the underpinnings of how digital camera sensors capture light and basic and advanced exposure techniques. There's an extensive section on the Digital Darkroom, showing how to work with color spaces, histograms, raw files, and Photoshop tweaks. Sections on printing and archiving discuss what you do after you've taken your perfect pictures. But this book goes beyond those nuts and bolts, too, giving insight into the Art and philosophy of photography, as well as laying out the evolution of the craft and how the eye itself perceives color and light. And it's not only an excellent introduction to digital photography and the art of photography in general, it's also full of beautiful images, so you could even use it as an engaging coffee table accessory."
--Editor, ExtremeTech

"If you want to learn about digital photography but have had your fill of redeye reduction tips and unsharp mask tutorials, a new book by Stephen Johnson is worth a look. On Digital Photography has plenty of pointers on color correction and tonal balance, but what sets it apart is Johnson's enthusiasm for the history and mechanics of digital photography--and the abundant landscape pictures that serve as inspiration...For those who want to dig into the details of the technology, Johnson provides plenty of material. He details the inner workings of camera image sensors, illustrates the differences in how many shades of gray can be displayed with 8-bit, 12-bit and 16-bit image data, explains image conversion between two color spaces, and shows historical digital sensors used in spy satellites and interplanetary probes...On Digital Photography is a somewhat meandering exploration of what's on Johnson's mind. It also includes some previously published material, not so fresh but still valuable. Overall, Johnson's tour of the digital photography landscape, while not terribly structured, is one worth taking."
--Stephen Shankland, CNET

"He discusses why we take pictures, not just how. He examines the ability to capture and hold a moment before the lens and "...intervention in the image, not for the purpose of distortive manipulation, but to assert control over your work." And he emphasizes why we use digital photography: besides immediacy, control, versatility, accuracy of the camera sensor, the "Gee Whiz" factor; the play of it...I highly recommend Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography for a visual journey/lesson of photographic history, techniques, and geography. Johnson is a truly sharing innovative teacher offering beautiful and unique photography throughout."
--Dick Evans, Bay Bytes Newsletter

"I know of few who have the depth and experience of Steve, regarding the making of digital photographs. This book has it all. The history, the mechanics, the uses, and the future. With class. With experience. One of Steve's major problems is that he is always a jump ahead of everyone else. Now, you can clearly follow the way he works and importantly, the way he thinks. Frankly I have a sour taste in my mouth for the digital folks, and I must say, they are most fortunate to have Steve as a spokesperson, as most of them can best be described as non practical nerds. Steve has single handedly lifted digital photography from a tasteless illiterate and chaotic splash, to a plane of elegance, shared only by the finest of print making processes. It's about time. It's here. And people like Steve have put it right up there."
--Al Weber, Photographer and Teacher, Carmel, California

"This book provides a feast of photographs for anyone interested in capturing nature, or shooting excellent portraits. Johnson is an artist as well as a photographer and uses this book to help us (readers) develop our artistic eyes and photographic skills to produce photos that captivate viewers with intriguing images, careful design, and subtle colors. To help us learn the art and craft of digital photography, Johnson teaches digital "darkroom" techniques (using Adobe Photoshop) to transform images captured by the camera into prints that hold the viewer's attention. Rather than a basic how-to book, such as the Dummies and Missing Manual series, this one is for photographers ready to take the next steps in both artistic and technical aspects of digital photography. "
--Linda Knapp, Seattle Times

"This landscape photographer covers a range of topics, from learning basic camera techniques to exploring ethical issues in digital imaging. He shows readers how to understand and create great photography while also covering Photoshop techniques and tips."
--book reviewer, Outdoor Photographer

"A master of the image-making process, Stephen Johnson shows the reader how to develop an "eye" for composing masterful images. Johnson leads the reader through the basics of the digital photography technology and shows how to reproduce images in the highest level of quality. The many photographs, reproduced in both full color and black-and-white, have been printed on high quality glossy paper, making the book an exemplar of the quality that can be achieved using digital tools. This is both a course on the art of image-making and a beautiful coffee table book."
--Michael Kleper, The Kleper Report on Digital Publishing

"Window Seat is an interesting approach to the photographic process. It is part self-help book, part Photoshop tutorial, and a whole lot of captivating pictures of our great country from above."
--Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor, MacNN

"It really fills that glaring gap in the market for a comprehensive yet easy to read book on digital photography. It covers everything one needs to know to make informed decisions about digital photography and imaging and, the bonus, it comes from the acknowledged pioneer in the field. Well done."
--Anthony Hobbs, Professor of Art at the Dublin College of Art, Ireland

"A comprehensive volume that combines plenty of how-to advice with Johnson's aesthetic philosophy about photography, the new book is a must for anyone using a digital camera."
--Chris Hunter, Pacifica Tribune Online

"In this long-overdue book, Steve shares more than a decade of experience at the forefront of photography’s evolution from silver to silicon, explaining the new technology, tools and techniques in straightforward language that every photo enthusiast will find both fascinating and enlightening."
--Mike Collette, President, Better Light, Inc.

"Stephen elegantly guides the reader through the complexities involved in color management while reminding us all that photography is art and no collection of techniques and tools should distract us from the joy and fun of that creative endeavor."
--Michael Stokes, Color Architect, Microsoft Corporation

"The hardest challenge to the digital author is to create a book that is not out of date by the time the ink is dry. Steve Johnson has broken through this barrier, creating the first book that address digital photography as a complete process, from digital’s earliest beginnings, through today’s technology knothole and ethical impact on our world. 12 on a scale of 10.”"
--Richard Newman, Education Coordinator, Calumet Photographic

"Steve Johnson, one of the true visionaries of the digital photography era, offers us a technical tour de force and passionate artistic overview of the possibilities inherent in this new medium. On Digital Photography should be required reading for every aspiring photographic artist."
--Ted Orland, photographer and writer

"Steve reveals a depth of knowledge and breadth of experience that's unique among photographers, digital or otherwise, and converts his insights to an appealing and accessible form for the rest of us. His book will be a treasure forever."
--Richard F. Lyon, Chief Scientist, Foveon, Inc.