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JW Johnston Quarterly
Summer 2019 
  • Last Chance: Composition Composition Composition
  • Backstories, Takeaways & How-to Info
  • Five Excuses for Not Using a Tripod
  • Your Polarizer:  Don't Leave Home Without It!
  • iPhone Mini-Gallery
  • WP Fall Festival Photo Contest Details
  • Planning Ahead for Autumn Classes 
  • Your Guide to Photography Shows around NYS
  • Cover Shot Details
  • Parting Shot
  • In the Market for Used?
  • Old School Community Darkroom 
  • A Full Heart



July 16, 23 & 30





Vestal Public Library

A 3-Session Workshop for $99.00

Discount to $79.00 is Available

Click for Details & Registration Form
A hands-on exploration of the Technical, Creative & Contemplative components of....well...composition. The "rule of thirds" and "leading lines" are just the beginning. This 3-session workshop is for you if you know almost EVERYTHING about the bells and whistles of your camera and lenses, but still struggle to make a well-composed photograph.  
After the Show

iPhone 7+   ProCamera and Snapseed Apps
Thank you to everyone who visited Orazio Salati Studio & Gallery in April and May for my New Work. Old Haunts. exhibition and during the first annual BCAC Art Trail.  It was all a labor of love and it meant so much to see so many familiar - and new - faces.  Thank you to all who purchased prints and cards. Making sales is incredibly gratifying, of course, but even more so is the knowledge that my work has made a connection with someone else. Heartfelt gratitude also goes to Cindy Rotella for preparing her epicurean delights for the preview, the multi-talented Anna Warfield for her incredible work on the video produced in conjunction with the show, the magnificent artist and gallery owner Orazio Salati for his beautiful space and masterful presentation, my stepdaughter Samarra and her man, Stuart, for being so supportive, and, of course, my partner and wife, Sharon Ball for...well...everything.
Cover Shot Details
Many of you know this is my favorite tree.  This willow has been around for as long as I can remember (and that's a very long time). It's along the trail around the south end of Whitney Point Lake. I've heard it called The Fishing Tree and The Walkin' Willow.  I've posted many photos of it, but this recent iPhone capture (and Snapseed editing) brings out how I feel about this tree more than the other photos. You'll notice some fog in the background.  The season of the mist has started early this year, coinciding with the start of summer. 
Backstories, Takeaways and How-To
Autumn Color

For much of the year you can barely see this culvert and what's around it as you walk the trail around Whitney Point Lake. There is an aura of mystery because much of the place is obscured by abundant warm-weather foliage. This past November, with the leaves gone and the small stream partially frozen, I finally got a closer look only to discover more mysteries.

Technical Details

Nikon D800  Polarizer  Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8
f/16  ISO100  1.3 seconds

The polarizer reduces the reflected glare on the water in the foreground, helping make visible the rocks below. It also helps the color of the moss, leaves, pumpkins, and, yes, the axle come forth.


A few years ago, I wouldn't have dreamed of making a photograph of such a axle and discarded pumpkins for crying out loud. I insisted on the idyllic and this scene would have appalled me.  Yes, this scene can be considered to be appalling.  But it's also compelling. Somehow, this odd, random collection of elements works. It's a good idea to have an agenda when you're out shooting. That's how projects get completed.  But blind allegiance to a To-Do list can mean missed opportunities. Staying on course is a good idea.  But so is flexibility.
Landers Corners Bridge

I've rarely seen a man-made structure appear to be so natural a part of the surrounding environment as this bridge. The arc of the leaning tree on the left side of this scene blends so well with the arc of the bridge. This one-lane span over the Otselic River just inside Cortland County was a regular stop during my bicycle excursions of my teens and early 20s. These days, when the river is low enough, I'm able to wade carefully with my gear to an island in the stream for the view shared here.

Technical Details and Comments

Nikon D800, Polarizer and ND 10-stop Filters  
Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6
f/18   ISO500  45 seconds

Converted to Black and White w/ Silver Efex Pro 2

Use of the polarizer reduced glare a bit on the water especially in the lower right enabling the rocks beneath the water to emerge.

Composition 101 - Takeaway

I wanted the bridge to be center-left, not center-center, and to be about a third of the way down from the top. If the bridge had been halfway up and centered the image would have been static, lacking movement. There would have been more of the less interesting sky and less of the more interesting stream.  I also felt the details on the right were compelling enough to occupy a full right third of the scene.  By having the bridge emerge from the left, I felt I was enhancing a sense of left-to-right movement.
Foggy mornings are a fixture around Whitney Point Lake during late summer into early autumn. For me, the magic starts at the moment of clearing, when the sun starts to break through and the fog starts to lift.  It's moment of anticipation, optimism.  It's the same feeling I had when my family moved to Whitney Point when I was seven years old.  I remember riding in the car heading to Whitney Point on a very beautiful, sunny and misty morning in early September for my first-ever day of school in my new town.  For my New Work. Old Haunts. exhibition, I wrote in my Artist Statement that many of the places I photographed for the show are full of mystery, memory and possibility.  This tree, in this moment, embodies all of that.  


Nikon D800  Nikkor 24-120mm  f/3.5-5.6

f/16  ISO200 1/8 second


If I learned anything of lasting value while producing this image it is this:  Keep your sensor clean.  Either clean it yourself (carefully following instructions) or pay a reputable camera shop to do it for you. I knew I had dust, etc., on my sensor but didn't mind cleaning up the sensor spots myself in Photoshop.  But this particular image, with so much white background,  really showed all the sensor spots.   It took seemingly forever to clean the mess.  It was worth it, but I wouldn't wish the tedium and occasional frustration on anyone.
Tripod.  Shmipod.

5 Excuses for Not Using a Tripod

"Tripods?  We don't need no stinkin' tripods."

"Level horizons are boring."

"Precise composition is soooooooo O-C-D."

"My forearms are really, really strong."

"Blurry is my brand."
Yes, there are many occasions when mobility is a must and a tripod is NOT called for: street photography, much of photojournalism,  sports and event photography, and even some abstract work where deliberate camera motion is a part of your process.  But if you're trying to produce a meticulously composed landscape or make any photo with a relatively show shutter speed, your tripod is your friend.   
The Polarizer
If you are allowed just one filter in your camera bag, it should be a polarizer, especially if you're making a lot of landscape images.  Nine out of ten of my outdoor landscape photographs are made with a polarizer on the lens.  The polarizer will make your white clouds and blue skies pop.  It will reduce or eliminate glare or some reflections in the water, allowing what's underwater to become visible.  Yes, there are times when I either take off my polarizer or don't fully engage it for aesthetic reasons. But those are rare moments.  When in doubt, as you get comfortable with a new polarizer, you could try it at partial strength and full strength.  You should also be wary of always using it at full strength at times.  Blue skies can become too saturated with a polarizer at full strength and you'll need to back off a bit. And if you're using a thick polarizer with a fairly wide angle lens, you'll run the risk of vignetting.  If your image is not tightly framed, of course, you can always crop out the vignetted corners. 

Two final thoughts:  (1) If you can afford just one PL filter, make sure it is at the size of your most-often used lens.  (2) If you have purchased top of the line lenses you know how expensive they can be.  The quality of the glass in those lenses is usually excellent.  So if you've spent a lot of money on a lens, don't put a cheap filter in front of all that expensive glass.  If, however, you're just getting started, and your lens is sufficient for a beginner, a consumer-priced filter is appropriate.

Below:  Three scenes photographed without and with a polarizer.
If you're in need of some good quality used equipment and how-to books, check out the link below.  2RPC members might have what you need.
Used Equipment and How-To Books from 2RPC
Remember the Date
So Much to See 
Photography Exhibitions
Check out these links for more information.

Eastman Museum, Rochester

- Exhibition & Workshop -

On the Lunar Landing 50th Anniversary
Through October 20
A special and very timely installation examining how space exploration and photography have crossed paths since the mid-1800s.  
Through January 5, 2020
Woven *

by Tanya Marcuse
*This exhibition looks incredible!  Still life on steroids! (Editor's note)


Fenimore Art Museum 

Through September 2
September 14 through November 10


Metropolitan Museum of Art
July 3 through September 22
Light Work,  Syracuse
Through July 27
August 26 through October 17


Yes, there is a place in town where you can process your own film and make your own prints - old school. It's Binghamton Photo.  Details at the link below.  
iPhone Mini Gallery
One of the biggest advantages of photographing with a smartphone is, for better or for worse, it's always with us.  We don't always carry our SLRs and Tripods with us. So even if we're just going for a morning walk or going to Subway for some supper, carrying our smartphone means we're always ready to capture whatever presents itself.  All five images below were made with the iPhone 7+ (ProCamera for image capture and Snapseed for processing).
A clump of leaves on the asphalt trail along Whitney Point Lake after a windy night.


One meadow, two views, as the morning sun and mist rise in tandem.  

Paradise at the Point Motel 

Walking out of the Whitney Point Subway, sub in hand, I see the rainbow.


Sunset at the Whitney Point Subway

Just a few minutes after making the rainbow photograph, looking north, from the Point Motel parking lot toward the Subway.


How often have you made photographs of colorful autumn leaves only to be disappointed with the result.  It has happened to all of us.  This two-session class shows you how to capture the autumn beauty we all appreciate.

Session 1: I'll show how filters, camera settings, time of day, quality of light and composition fundamentals help you produce the photographs you envision.

Session 2: Share your photos with the other photographers in the class and receive supportive feedback.  

Class code:  HB 176   $59.00   2 Wednesdays

6:45pm to 9:00pm.  


(or How to Take Beautiful Winter Photos without Hurting Yourself and Destroying Your Equipment)

This one-night-only class helps you get ready to photograph the wonders of winter.  Learn specific techniques that help you capture the beauty of our longest season.  I'll guide you through the important precautions to protect your equipment and yourself from the cold.  What do you do to keep your battery working? How do you stay safe and comfortable in the cold so that you can concentrate on creativity?  How do you adjust your camera settings to get the best winter photographs?  This class provides the answers and more.  Open to photographers with DSLRs.

Class Code HB 177     $39    


 6:30 - 8:45PM


View from His Lean-To at Heart Lake

I am happy to report that a 32x40 print of the above image has been accepted for the 2019 Southern Tier Biennial.  It is one of 36 pieces of visual art selected for the juried show out of more than 150 works submitted by artists from the nine counties in New York's Southern Tier.  The exhibition opens September 21 at the Center Gallery on the Olean campus of Jamestown Community College and at the Tri-County Arts Council Gallery, also in Olean.  

This scene was only about 15-20 yards away from my lean-to at Heart Lake in the Adirondacks. The woods were so thick it took a few tries to find my way back to the lean-to.  I used film to produce the original image, 4x5" sheet film - Provia 100F, with my Toyo 45AII View Camera.  There is an ancient feel to the Adirondack woods and this scene is a good representation of that.  As I was working with this file I decided that a black and white version with a touch of sepia helped bring out that timelessness. And looking at this image, I realize there is more going on here than just a representation of that place.  As Minor White put it, "One should not only photograph things for what they are, but for what else they are." The film was processed at Praus Productions in Rochester.  I scanned the film at a very high resolution on an Imacon scanner at Light Work in Syracuse.  I made the large print at Light Work as well using Epson Cold Press Natural paper and Epson Pigment Inks.  

The title for the above piece is a tribute to Joseph Nicephore Niepce who produced the "oldest surviving, photographically-based, camera made photograph" titled, "View from His Window at Le Gras."   (below)
View from His Window at Le Gras (1826-1827)
Joseph Nicephore Niepce

...Parting Shot...
Social Media 

Whitney Point, NY

iPhone 7+ with ProCamera and Snapseed Apps

If you have any regional photography related news, I would be more than happy to spread the word in this newsletter.  Drop me a line at  And as always...

May you continue to find joy in photography.
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Copyright © 2019 JW Johnston Photography, All rights reserved.

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