Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Stephen Johnson Photographer & Author

Johnson: The Ansel Adams of Digital Photography
Johnson started taking digital landscape photographs in 1994 and is a pioneer of the medium. Last night I went to the most recent meeting of the local Photoshop User Group. The meeting was at Adobe Headquarters in San Jose not far from SJSU. It featured Stephen Johnson and it was a real treat. Johnson blew me away. He is to digital landscape photography what Ansel Adams was to black and white film landscape photography. I was not prepared for the awesome quality of his work. I was amazed. This guy really knows his stuff. I learned so much from his free talk:

  • He talked in depth about the Camera Raw format and what it really is. He said, "a RAW file is not a photo it is a data stream." His comparison of Camera RAW, film and the Zone System (made famous by Ansel Adams) was something I have never seen before.
  • He talked in depth about camera sensor technology and particularly the Foveon X3 sensor, how it compares to Bayer sensors (and film) and what makes it so special.
  • He brought huge photos taken with his BetterLight scanning camera, talked about his decade long photo project and his new book.

Johnson's work is lovely, it was almost melodic. His work has a masterful combination of art and craft that is magical. I do not know if Johnson is a musician like Adams was, but his photographs were like a song, like Adams's are. I am not a landscape photographer. That is not what my heart and my eye see's. I will never shoot like Johnson, and that is okay. His book by O'Reiley , Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography, is a must buy for me. Just listening to him has changed my photography. That was a real treat!

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