February 2007

Oaks in Fog, Sunrise, Carmel Valley, California

Greetings Friends,

Anne and I recently returned from Dual Graphics where we were supervising the press run for the new workshop brochure. You should be receiving a hard copy of the brochure in your mailbox soon - depending on the U.S. Postal Service! If you’re not on the postal mailing list, feel free to drop us an email or give us a call and let us know that you would like to be included on that list in addition to this email newsletter list. We generally send out only one or two mailings per year. Dual Graphics did a beautiful job printing this year’s brochure. I have been working with David Gray Gardner and Kevin Broady on my printing projects for nearly thirty years.

It looks like it’s going to be a busy 2007, and somehow January seemed to just disappear. In addition to my usual workshops, I will be conducting some lectures and seminars in the spring in Southern California. If you would be interested in having me present a seminar in your area, please feel free to contact Laura and we’ll see what we can work out.

I hope you find some useful and perhaps interesting information in the newsletter below. I’d better head back to the “old-fashioned” darkroom, expose some silver to light, and see what emerges.

All the best,




My new 2007-2008 John Sexton Photography Workshops brochure is now printed and in the mail. If you can’t wait for the U.S. Postal Service, you can visit my web site and read the schedule there, as well as download an Adobe Acrobat PDF version of the complete brochure and application form, along with workshop procedures and policies.

To see a schedule of all of my workshops, or to download the workshop brochure, follow this link:



John will be presenting a series of lectures and book signings in Southern California this March. In addition, John will be returning as a presenter at this year’s Silver Conference in Pasadena. Detailed information about these upcoming events is listed below.

MARCH 23, 2007, 7:00 PM
An Evening With Master Photographer John Sexton
721 East Cota Street
Santa Barbara, California
Admission: Free - Open to the public

For more information:
James Dewhirst



MARCH 25, 2007, 1:30 PM
Ansel Adams: A Personal Recollection
In conjunction with the exhibition:
Ansel Adams: Classic Images
February 18 - May 18, 2007

Norma Kershaw Auditorium
2002 North Main Street
Santa Ana, California
Admission: General $12.00 Members $10.00

For more information:
Linda Kahn



MARCH 28, 2007, 7:00 PM
An Evening With Master Photographer John Sexton
Sponsored by The North County Higher Education Alliance

Palomar College
1140 West Mission Road
San Marcos, California

Admission: Free - Open to the public
Seating is limited. For more information
and reservations please contact:
Anne Hathaway




March 30 – APRIL 1

Ilford Photo/Harman Technology Ltd. and Calumet Photographic, along with Blurb, Santa Fe Workshops, and View Camera magazine, are sponsoring the second annual Silver: International Conference of Black and White Photography. The conference will be an exciting opportunity for dedicated black and white photographers and printmakers to listen, learn, network, and be part of an important photographic community event.

John is returning as a presenter this year, along with Keith Carter, Sally Gall, Ken Rosenthal, Mary Virginia Swanson, and others.

Additional details, and registration information can be found at:




The response to Recollections has been phenomenal. Not only have sales been terrific at the Ventana Editions online store, the books has been selling well at other online retailers as well as physical bookstores that stock the book. I’ve received more communication about Recollections than any of my three previous books. I am pleased to say that the communication has been consistently positive.In the last newsletter I included some unsolicited comments that readers had shared with me. We’ve continued to receive favorable responses about Recollections from across the country and actually from many other countries as well. I’ve posted a number of these comments on my web site. If you so desire, you can take a look at the comments. All of the comments were unsolicited and all have been used with the writer’s permission.There have been features and reviews about me and Recollections in a number of magazines during the past few months, including: LensWork, Photo District News, Black & White Photography (from the U.K.), Sierra Heritage, Rangefinder, Emulsion, Photo Techniques, and others. In addition, I have a feature article that will appear in the May issue of Popular Photography.

Thanks to those of you who have helped make the book such a success. Thanks also to those who have emailed or written with your responses. Learning that people enjoy the book, and indeed some of you have said you have been inspired by it, naturally pleases me greatly.




I wanted to tell you about a new book by my long-time friend Al Weber. I recently purchased a copy of his book, Advice for Photographers: The Next Step, and was very impressed with this small, but significant, volume of writing on photography.

I first met Al Weber in 1973 when he was an instructor at the first workshop I ever attended - the annual Ansel Adams Workshop in Yosemite. Al has taught more workshops than most people on the planet. In a recent biographical sketch Al was described as “being a photographer for more years than most of us have been alive!” I’ve always found Al to be a “straight-shooter.” He cuts to the chase and tells it like it is, as is the case with Al’s new book.

The book is small in size, but considerable in content. At 4x6 inches and 72 pages, it’s a volume that you can literally keep in your pocket. There are no photographs in the book aside from an image of Al photographing on the dunes on the front cover, but based on Al’s decades of teaching and being a working photographer he has collected and organized ideas and suggestions that will aid all of us who pursue a love of photography. Al hits on topics which frequently hinder those attempting to practice the creative process, such as time management for the self-employed; dealing with growth and change; the dilemma of influence; business tactics for the artist; the power of thought; overcoming inertia; common obstacles and demons; and exhibiting work. The chapters are brief, one page at most; as Al describes in the promotional materials about his new book, “similar to Weber’s own attention span.” The cost of the book is only $10.00.

I think it’s a great investment in gaining information that will help you with your photography and, perhaps even more importantly, inspiration that will spur you on with your photographic growth. If you would like to order a copy, simply send $12.00 - cash or check only - ($2.00 for each book is for packaging and postage) to:

Al Weber
145 Boyd Way
Carmel, CA 93923

I’m positive you’ll find this book to be of much greater value than its modest cost. Buy it, you’ll like it!




Many of the readers of this newsletter may already be aware of the sad news that Forte has ceased production of film and paper, and its production facility in Hungary is being closed. The factory was established by George Eastman as a Kodak facility in 1922. Forte experienced financial difficulties a few years ago, but was able to emerge from receivership in 2005. For a number of years I used the Forte Polywarmtone paper. Its strong point was not consistency, but when it was good it was very good. A number of my friends found the neutral tone Forte Polygrade V to be an excellent paper. For many it was their primary, or exclusive, printing paper.

If you are looking for either Forte Polywarmtone or Polygrade V, Freestyle Photographic Supplies has both of these papers in stock. Some readers may want to stock up while it is still possible.

UPDATE - March 11, 2007 - I just heard from Freestyle that they have received many orders for their remaining stock of Forte Polywarmtone and Polygrade fiber base papers, and have run our of some sizes. Be sure to check the Freestyle web site above, or call 1-800-292-6137 or 1-323-660-3460 to check stock availability. If you are interested in obtaining Forte papers, I suggest you act quickly.

The loss of these two excellent papers, along with all of the other photographic products manufactured by Forte, is indeed a loss for the world of photography. As I’ve said previously, I feel that it is important to have choices in term of materials to work with. There’s no one single paper that can meet the needs of every photographer, let alone every type of image. All of us that love the magic of silver photography need to continue to purchase the materials that we find important for our own work. After all, photographic suppliers are in the business of manufacturing products that people will buy. We need to keep the sales strong enough so that it is a profitable undertaking for manufacturers to continue to offer silver halide films and papers.

I have received a number of inquiries from newsletter readers asking about likely candidates to replace papers that have been discontinued. Two manufacturers that seem dedicated to the ongoing production of high-quality silver papers are Ilford and Kentmere. Good luck with testing papers. If you find papers that meet your needs, please let me know so I can share that information with others.



This newsletter’s Tech Tip is about tripod use in the potentially harsh conditions encountered when photographing the landscape. Over the years leading field trips on workshops in the mountains and deserts, and along the coast, I’ve seen tripods used and abused in just about every conceivable way. From time to time I’ve had to use my tripod in unusual ways, from supporting a camping lantern, and even as a “step” to climb out of a difficult canyon.

I’ve owned a number of different tripods over the years, aluminum, wood, and more recently carbon fiber. Wood tripods are amazing in their ability to take abuse and keep on going. Wood tripods don’t meet my own personal needs because, even when closed, they are longer than I like to carry. Since 1994 I’ve been using the Gitzo carbon fiber tripods. It’s interesting to note that 2007 marks the 90th anniversary of Gitzo tripods.

I recently had a chance to evaluate their latest 6X carbon fiber tripod model GT3540XLS. It had an amazing number of improvements over a previous model. Gitzo tripods use twist locks, which work great, but it was always frustrating when trying to unlock one leg section and the adjacent section slipped. This has been eliminated with the new design. In addition, you can get to ground level without having to change from the normal column to a flat plate, which required a wrench. There are a number of additional enhancements to this tripod that really impress me. It’s amazing to see the evolution and increasing quality of design and manufacture in the Gitzo tripod line. I still have my old dinged up vintage 1983 Gitzo, and it isn’t pretty but it still works, even after nearly twenty-five years of continual use and abuse.

The best way to get good life and functionality out of a tripod is to exercise a bit of care. One of the things I see people doing wrong with aluminum and carbon fiber tripods is putting the leg locking mechanisms into dirt, mud, sand, and water. When I am working in the field, I take the bottom section of my tripod and extend it about 4 to 6 inches, so the leg itself is immersed into the crud and debris, rather than the tripod locking joints themselves. This extra step makes all the difference in terms of tripod longevity, and in the short term it allows the leg locks to work properly. They lock firmly when they’re supposed to and, just as importantly, they unlock when you need to adjust the tripod.

In addition, it’s a good idea to clean the threads and properly lubricate the tripod on occasion. I have found the application of a talc-based powder to carbon fiber tripod legs makes them glide in and out smoothly, and doesn’t leave any residue that will attract dirt and debris. I just take a little bit of powder and rub it on the tripod legs, then try and wipe it all off. When it is visually all gone there’s still a little bit left that creates microscopic “ball bearings,” making the legs work more smoothly. I’ve never had it create a problem with secure locking. The more care you give your tripod - along with your other equipment - the longer it will last, and the better it will perform.




This past fall, in the conjunction with the publication of Recollections, I did my first Internet talk radio interview on Photo Talk Radio. It was an interesting and lively experience. I’m hoping my schedule will allow me to appear on Photo Talk Radio at some point in the not too distant future. You can listen to the September interview and see a small selection of photographs online.

A few weeks later, while in New York, I did my first Podcast with Annie Frisbie at Zoom-in Online. You can listen to that broadcast online, or download the MP3 digital file here.

In December I had the pleasure of spending some time with Uwe and Bettina Steinmueller here in Carmel Valley. Anne and I had a great time visiting with them, both of whom are photographers, looking at photographs and sharing our mutual love for the medium. Uwe and Bettina operate Digital Outback Photo. Uwe did a lengthy audio interview, which can be heard online.

Finally, my old friend John Paul Caponigro has added an interview with me to his excellent Artists on Art series at his web site

John conducted this interview in November 2000 for Camera Arts magazine to coincide with the publication of my previous book, Places of Power. John Paul’s web site, which has an elegant and beautiful design, is also filled with useful information for photographers working in the digital domain, along with inspiring images, ideas, concepts, and information for anyone making images.

It’s amazing how versatile the web can be in terms of communicating text, images, and audio information.




“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious;
It is the source of all true art and science”
- Albert Einstein

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John Sexton
Post Office Box 2338
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
Voice: 831-659-3130
Fax: 831-659-5509


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Copyright © 2007 John Sexton. All rights reserved.

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