February 2008

Tree Fern

Rocks and Pool, Dusk, Big Sur, California

Made with the new T-MAX 400 film

Greetings Friends,

It's time once again for another issue of my infrequent email newsletters. I feel that time keeps going faster and faster (do you think the speed of light is increasing or something?). It's hard to imagine that February is nearly gone. There seems to be so much to do and so little time to do it.

My 2008 workshop brochure has just been mailed. Those of you on my postal mailing list should be receiving your brochures shortly. If you simply can't wait, you can find the schedule for the upcoming workshops at

2008 marks the "Silver Anniversary" of my workshop, The Expressive Black and White Print. When I first offered the workshop in 1983 I could not have imagined it would have such longevity and popularity. What began as a single workshop quickly grew into multiple offerings, and has for many years been offered five times annually. It is humbling for me to know that over 1,200 people have attended various sessions of this particular workshop. It is also gratifying that there continues to be great interest from participants around the globe in attending this workshop. The follow-up workshop, which originated due to popular demand from past workshop participants, Fine Tuning the Expressive Print, celebrates its twentieth anniversary in 2008.

In addition, I am pleased to announce that Ray McSavaney and I will be offering our Southwest Landscape: A Sense of Place workshop for the twenty-first time. We've changed the itinerary around a little bit, and know this will be an exciting workshop. Since we were unable to schedule this event last year, due to the fact that Anne and I were out of the country in May, we've accrued a list of people who were interested in this workshop, and it's sure to fill fast.

Included in this email newsletter are some announcements of new features about my work at the Kodak Professional Imaging web site, as well as a special print offer for an image that I made this past fall while working on a project for Kodak with their new and improved T-Max 400 film.

Finally, there's sad news that Polaroid is discontinuing the manufacture of all of their films -- truly the end of an era. Not everyone realizes how closely Dr. Edwin Land and Ansel worked over the decades on the Polaroid Land instant photographic process. Ansel would not be happy hearing this news if he were still alive.

Anne and I wish you the very best for 2008, and hope that you enjoy the material contained in this newsletter.




My new 2008 workshop 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.

See a schedule of all of my workshops

Download the complete illustrated workshop brochure



From time to time, I make special print offerings available at reduced prices. The new Special Collectors Edition offering of Tree Fern Detail shown below is now available for order online. This print is available for a limited time at the very special price of $600.

Learn more about this print, or to order

It is always exciting to share a recently made photograph with others. I made this image of a tree fern last September while working with Kodak Professional to evaluate their newly reformulated T-Max 400 Professional film. When the film arrived last September at our studio, there were only a few weeks before the film was to be announced. Kodak had commissioned me to make landscape photographs for the introduction and advertising of the new film. This is the type of assignment that every photographer loves... no art director, no limitations -- just make photographs that appeal to you!

One of my favorite images from this photographic project is this image, Tree Fern Detail. It was made before sunrise in soft light. The leaves themselves had an almost metallic quality, which I attempted to convey in the making of the negative and in the printing. I made the prints for the special offer last fall while intensely working on the Kodak T-Max 400 project. I liked this image so well that I selected it for the cover of my 2008-2009 John Sexton Photography Workshops brochure. I hope that you like the image as well.

There are a limited number prints available at this special discounted price, so if your are interested, please act quickly.

My prints in this size normally retail in galleries for $900, so the savings over the retail price is significant.

This print is approximately 10x10", personally printed by me (as are all my prints), processed to current archival standards, signed, mounted, and matted to 16x20" on 100 percent rag museum board. Prints will be shipped within ten days of the order date. All prints are carefully prepared and packaged in specially designed protective shipping boxes, and shipped fully insured via UPS ground.

If you prefer to order over the phone, or if you have any questions, call 831-659-3130 from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Thursday to place an order. In addition, you can contact us at:

Tree Fern

Tree Fern, Carmel California




I'm pleased to announce that Kodak Professional Imaging Solutions has recently launched two web-based projects featuring my photography.

The first is a new Kodak blog by my long-time friend at Kodak Audrey Jonckheer, Director of Worldwide Public Relations and Photographer Relations, Film Photofinishing and Entertainment Group, Eastman Kodak Company. Audrey has been with Kodak for a number of years and recently introduced her A Thousand Words blog. I was most flattered when Audrey asked me if she could feature me in her very first posting of the blog. I'm new to this whole blogging phenomenon, but was most pleased with what she had assembled. You can take a look at the blog or participate more actively in the blog if you're so inclined.

In addition, Kodak Pro Imaging has just launched a video podcast about my photography and me. We taped the video interview last fall while I was in New York for the PhotoPlus Expo. I was there helping Kodak launch the new and improved T-Max 400 Professional black and white film. You can view the 11-minute podcast online, download the file (it's big - 124MB), or subscribe to the podcast on Apple iTunes.

I hope you find both the blog and the podcast to be interesting. Have fun!




Exactly 61 years ago today, on February 21, 1947, Edwin H. Land first demonstrated his one-step instant camera and film at a meeting of the Optical Society of America. Less than two years later the Polaroid Camera Model 95 and Type 40 Land was introduced for sale to the public. At one time more than 5 million Polaroid pictures were exposed around the world every 24 hours. How times change!!!

Many of you are likely already aware of this news but, in case you aren't, I thought I would pass on the sad news that last week Polaroid Corporation announced it will discontinue the production and sale of all of its films -- including its professional films. This marks the end of an important era in the history of photography.

Polaroid announced that it is exiting the film business and closing plants in the U.S., Mexico, and the Netherlands as it focuses on digital photography and flat-panel televisions. Polaroid stated that it would produce enough instant film to last into 2009. It hopes to license the technology to third-party companies. Polaroid stopped making instant cameras for commercial use in 2006 and halted production of consumer models last year.

When Dr. Land first introduced instant photography to the world it forever changed the medium of photography. Many people are not aware of the close working relationship, and great friendship, that Ansel Adams and Dr. Land shared over the years. Ansel's input was instrumental in the design and refinement of many of Polaroid's instant films. Ansel was so enthralled with the Polaroid process that he did a number of books devoted to Polaroid, including a technical volume, The Polaroid Manual, as well as a beautiful monograph of images made exclusively with the Polaroid Land process titled Singular Images.

I was honored to be a part of the Polaroid Collection in the late 1970s and to have a number of my original Polaroid prints in their permanent collection. In addition, I was fortunate to be the first photographer to make black and white images - outside of the research laboratory - with the Polaroid 20x24 camera.

Over the years I have found Polaroid film to be a most valuable educational tool. I will miss having Polaroid instant imagery available. Somehow it's a different experience, peeling apart a Polaroid print and revealing the subject, as opposed to looking at an LCD screen. But that's just me! Here are a couple of links to the details of Polaroid's recent announcement:

Here are some links with information about Polaroid's recent announcement:,1,3441269.story




I will be a presenter at the foto3 conference in Fort Collins, Colorado this June. foto3 is dedicated to the art and craft of photography. foto3 provides a venue where photographers can learn, share, and broaden their interests in the medium. Three conference seminar tracks will be offered, which will be helpful in advancing participants' skills and knowledge in the areas of creativity, technology, and business. In addition to the conference, foto3 will feature a trade show, workshops, panel discussions, and photographic exhibitions.

I am pleased to be a presenter at foto3 along with Ted Orland, Kim Weston, Gordon Hutchings, Karen Kuehn, Kirk Gittings, and a number of other talented photographers.

For additional information about foto3 visit or call 800-894-8439


I have never included any "political" content in my previous email newsletters, but I feel compelled to do so at this time. As a native Californian and someone who has lived in this spectacular state all my life, as well as a landscape photographer, I am more than a little distressed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent decision to close 48 of California's 278 State Parks. This is one aspect of Governor Schwarzenegger's budget cutting plan for 2008. While there is no doubt that California's budget is in bad shape (as is the case with many states these days), the decision to close state parks seems shortsighted to me.

In response to a communication I recently sent to the Governor's office, one of the Governor's aides stated that the closed parks will be "...ready for reopening when funds become available." Well, what do you think the likelihood is of the state's budget ever having a surplus to reopen these parks?

The California State Parks system states that it mission is "To provide for the health, inspiration and education of the people of California by helping to preserve the state's extraordinary biological diversity, protecting its most valued natural and cultural resources, and creating opportunities for high-quality outdoor recreation." The Governor's recent decision seems contradictory to the State Parks’ mission statement.

You can see what the California State Parks Foundation has to say about the proposed closures.

I've included links below where you can EASILY send an email to Governor Schwarzenegger's office, along with State Assembly members and Senators. Believe it or not, these emails are actually read, and I believe you will get some sort of response from his office. Even if you're not a resident of California, feel free to express your views using this easy and effective method of electronic communication. Tourism is a huge industry in California, and many tourists take advantage of the California State Parks system during their visits. So people from outside the state will have an additional perspective on park closures that may be beneficial.

For those of you who are residents, I've also included a link below where you can, in a similar fashion, communicate with your state legislators. By entering in your zip code it will even select the legislators that are appropriate for your area.

I, along with many others, feel it would be a shame to lose even a small percentage of our state parks. Once these parks are closed the likelihood of them being reopened is very small. Once they've been closed for a few years and financial difficulties occur again, I'm certain they would be sold off, as many of them are literally "priceless" pieces of real estate. This is a one-way street. There's no going back to retrieve these locations once they have been developed, and goodness knows development continues at a terrifying rate in California.

Thanks for listening and thanks in advance for those of you that are willing to express your views to the officials that can make a difference.




I've been a fan of Velcro for decades. Initially I think it was because of my amazement at the technology that makes this material work. As I became seriously involved in large format photography years ago, I found that Velcro helped solve many frustrating problems. I thought I'd share a few of the solutions with you.

One of the Velcro applications I get the most comments on during workshops is a simple one. Its origin goes back to 1974 when I first purchased a Pentax spot meter. I apply a small piece of self-adhesive "hook" Velcro to the top of the spot meter body and a mating piece of self-adhesive Velcro "loop" to the lens cap. When I remove the lens cap to take meter readings I simply press it to the top of the meter and it's always there. Some people use lens cap "leashes" on their spot meters and other applications, but for me the above works better than having a cap "bouncing around" on the end of a small leash.

By the way, speaking of spot meters, I occasionally see people who apply UV haze or skylight filters on their spot meter lenses. While this is great for protection, I would not suggest it on a spot meter. It definitely introduces additional flare to the metering system, which could lead to underexposure of shadows in strong backlight situations. I definitely would NOT recommend using a protective glass filter in lieu of a traditional lens cap. I've seen this on a few occasions and the filters were absolutely filthy, which would greatly exacerbate the above problem.

If you look at the dark cloths that Anne and I have for our view cameras, you'll find that they are adorned with numerous pieces of Velcro. I have self-adhesive Velcro in a number of places on my Linhof Technika, as well as my Linhof Technikardan. These mate to oversize pieces of the opposite Velcro on the dark cloth. This keeps the dark cloth in place on breezy days, and as you are studying the image on the ground glass. Never leave your view camera unattended with the dark cloth draped over it or attached. I have literally seen cameras "fly" when the camera is left in this configuration and an unexpected wind comes out of nowhere. Ouch!

In addition, both of our cloths can be made into long "tubes," because of mating pieces of Velcro. This also allows one to wear your focusing cloth as type of "cape." It's convenient when you're taking meter readings, installing filters and lens shades, albeit it is a bit of a fashion risk! Make sure that you carefully plan the positions of the Velcro -- especially the tooth type, so that you're not constantly adhering your dark cloth to sweaters and other garments.

When I was working on my Space Shuttle photography and had the opportunity to go on board the Space Shuttle orbiters, I was pleasantly surprised to see Velcro everywhere. Interestingly, there are two colors of Velcro used on board the Space Shuttle -- a light blue Velcro that remains in place, and a bright yellow Velcro that is configured to the needs and desires of the crew for a particular mission. It is removed at the conclusion of the mission, and replaced with Velcro in different places to meet the needs of the next crew that will use that orbiter.

I also have lots of other uses of Velcro in camera bags and on tripods, as well as elsewhere in my photographic gear. I'm sure you'll think of many more.




"Anything worth doing is worth doing to excess."
- Edwin H. Land

"Every creative act is a sudden cessation of stupidity"
- Edwin H. Land


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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 © 2008

John Sexton. All rights reserved.

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