Monday Blog Blog: Lewis Kemper

February 14th, 2011 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Master Landscape Photography And Photoshop Teacher Lewis Kemper

What in the world is “Monday Blog Blog? Find out in the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog Celebration.”

Backlit Icebergs, Jokalsarlon, Iceland, 2007 by Lewis Kemper.

After I wrote the blog post, “Monday Blog Blog: Photoshop For Pros,” I had a strange feeling that I had forgotten at least one or perhaps more professional photographers who are important to mention in any discussion about Photoshop or Photoshop training. Sure enough, one of those who I inadvertently left out was landscape photography master Lewis Kemper.

Lewis Kemper lived in Yosemite National Park for 11 years. From 1978 to 1980, he worked at the Ansel Adams Gallery. This gave him the opportunity to meet many influential photographers of the time including Philip Hyde. In the summer of 1979, Philip Hyde led the Color Landscape Photography Workshop for the Ansel Adams Gallery. His two assistant instructors were Jeff Nixon and Lewis Kemper.

“It was a dream come true to meet and teach under one of the photographers I had admired since I was a kid,” Lewis Kemper said. He continued:

I remember growing up looking at Sierra Club Books, Philip Hyde and Eliot Porter’s photographs, Navajo Wildlands, Slickrock, and the Sierra Club Calendars. Prior to Philip Hyde and Eliot Porter, landscape photography was limited to the big general scene. Eliot Porter sort of stole the title for ‘intimate landscapes’ but that was what I admired about Philip Hyde’s work too: the close-ups and the smaller and mid-sized scenes. Originally landscape photography was about trying to photograph everything. Now the Sierra Club photographers were showing us that you could take pictures of part of everything and still convey everything.

Part of what landed Lewis Kemper the job at the Ansel Adams Gallery was his B.A. in Fine Art Photography from George Washington University. In photography school, Lewis Kemper studied black and white photography and the zone system, but even earlier, starting in high school, he was more drawn to color. While helping Philip Hyde teach the Ansel Adams Gallery Color Landscape Photography Workshop, Lewis Kemper showed the lead instructor his Color Cibachrome prints of “Sand Dune,” “Cedars In Snow” and others. See more of Lewis Kemper’s photographs at

“Philip liked my prints,” Lewis Kemper said. “He kept saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re getting this with a 35 mm camera.’” Subsequently, with a friendly push from Philip Hyde, Lewis Kemper began to use a large format 4X5 view camera. Listen to Lewis Kemper’s podcasts that mention Philip Hyde’s influence at the bottom of the page here. Later, in the early 1990s, Lewis Kemper bought an Imacon Scanner and began making high resolution digital scans of his 4X5 transparencies. He learned digital printing with the first 25 inch pigment printer, the Epson 7500. The Epson 7000 had been an ink printer, whereas with the advent of the Epson 7500, digital printers began using pigment. Lewis Kemper also printed commercially for other landscape photographers.

In 1992, Photoshop came out with version 2.5.1. Lewis Kemper said he remembered the instruction manual being very hard to follow. He said, “I had been screaming and struggling for 45 minutes with the clone tool and the instructions that came with Photoshop 2.5.1, when my wife came in to help. She started pushing buttons with the mouse and playing with the keyboard and all of a sudden the program cloned. I asked her, ‘What did you do?’ She said, ‘I don’t know.’ Then she tried to repeat the steps she had made when it cloned and it cloned again. Finally we had figured out how to make the clone tool work.”

Lewis Kemper began teaching photography workshops including Photoshop classes in 1995 at the Palm Beach Photographic Center, the same year Photoshop came out with version 3.0, the first version with layers. Read more of Lewis Kemper’s articles and tips: go here. When Lewis Kemper first started writing for PC Photo Magazine, he was using a small point and shoot digital camera, but through his work with the magazine he became enthusiastic to step up to a Canon 1DS, which had an 11 megapixel sensor. Lewis Kemper made his first serious digital capture with the Canon 1Ds in January 2004. He now represents Canon as one its Explorers of Light, an elite group of only 62 photographers around the world including Art Wolfe, Barbara Bordnick, John Paul Caponigro, Adam Jones, Robert Farber, George Lepp, Tyler Stableford, Rick Sammon, David Hume Kennerly and Douglas Kirkland. Lewis Kemper currently uses a Canon iPF 6300 24 inch printer and his two main cameras are a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III for landscape photography and a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV for wildlife and outdoor sports.

Lewis Kemper first taught classes through in the Fall of 2003. He has also taught at the Santa Fe Workshops, Light Photographic Workshops, Aspen Workshops, and George Lepp Digital Institute. He is the author of The Yosemite Photographer’s Handbook, The Yellowstone Photographer’s Handbook and his latest Photographing Yosemite Digital Field Guide, which was voted in the top 20 of all such field guides. He also produces the acclaimed Photoshop training DVD’s, The Photographer’s Toolbox for Photoshop. His photographs have been published in numerous other books including those published by the Sierra Club, The National Geographic Society, Little and Brown, Prentice Hall and many others. Besides having his photographs appear on the cover of many of the best magazines, currently Lewis Kemper is a contributing editor for Outdoor Photographer and Digital Photo magazines and NANPA Currents magazine.



  1. pj says:

    I’ve heard Lewis Kemper’s name occasionally over the years but I’m not familiar with his work. Looks like I’ve been missing out. Thanks for the post David — you can bet I’ll be over there at his site feasting my eyes now. Good stuff.

  2. Thank you, PJ. I hope you enjoy Lewis Kemper’s photography. He has some very fine work.

  3. I can see I’m going to spend some time on Mr. Kemper’s site, David. All those great articles are posted – wonderful!

    Thanks for the write-up.


  4. Thank you for drawing attention to Lewis Kemper’s articles. I need to be in there reading them too.

  5. Greg Russell says:

    Like PJ, I have also heard Lewis’ name floating around for several years now, but I’ve really dived into his work. Thanks for highlighting some of it and bringing it to the forefront David!

    Looking forward to next Monday!


  6. Thank you for your feedback, Greg. I’m glad you have delved into Lewis Kemper’s photography. It is worth the journey. Besides, he is a kind and helpful teacher with many talents and skills to impart.

  7. hilary cosper says:

    Thoughtful writing!

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