Still Life with Silver Bowl

Sometimes the beautiful things are all around us, like this group of fruit in a reflective bowl. This version was processed on my iPhone with Plastic Bullet, Lo-Mob, and Snapseed:

Still Life in Silver Bowl © Harold Davis

Still Life in Silver Bowl © Harold Davis

This version of my image was made using the Waterlogue app:

Still Life and Watercolor © Harold Davis

Still Life and Watercolor © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Still Life

Oh, Heidelberg!

The other evening I strolled along Heidelberg’s Philosopher’s Walk with my camera and tripod. I stopped to make several photographs, including this exposure blend looking down on the Alte Brucke. Today I used the image in my Black & White Masterclass to demonstrate a fairly complete high dynamic range black and white (“monochromatic HDR”) workflow. I think the class was great at following along as this workflow involves a non-trivial effort and is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Oh, Heidelberg! © Harold Davis

Oh, Heidelberg! © Harold Davis

Exposure information: 135mm, seven combined exposures (at shutter speeds between 1/160 of a second and 0.5 of a second), each exposure at f/9 and ISO 64, tripod mounted; exposures combined and processed using Nik HDR Pro, Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop, Nik Color Efex, Nik Silver Efex, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, and Perfect B&W.

Posted in Germany, Monochrome, Workshops

Incredibly Attractive Highly Repellant

Of course, this leads to a grammatical question: Is the implied subject female or fabric? Methinks it could be either, or maybe both.

Incredibly Attractive Highly Repellant © Harold Davis

Incredibly Attractive Highly Repellant © Harold Davis

Posted in Bemusements, iPhone

Sketches with Waterlogue

The iPhone is probably the best camera there is for quick sketches. For one thing, it is pretty much always with me. For another, it is quick and easy to use, and surprisingly capable. But the best part is the “digital darkroom in the little box”—the fact that I can creatively process my photos right on the iPhone. There are hundreds of wonderful post-production apps, but one of my favorites is Waterlogue. Waterlogue doesn’t work for all images, but when I am looking for a dreamy final image that resembles a water color painting it is certainly my go-to app. Here are some recent sketches by Harold and Waterlogue, from top to bottom: Path in the Park and Stairs, both photographed in the Little Town of Prague; Bicycle 1 and Bicycle 2, photographed in the Old Town of Heidelberg, Germany; and Banks of the River, the Nekkar River where it flows through Heidelberg at the end of a warm summer’s day.

Path in the Park © Harold Davis

Path in the Park © Harold Davis

By the way, if you are curious, this effect can be achieved in Photoshop also with images made on a real camera, most commonly using the Topaz Simplify and Impression plugins. But it’s hard to quarrel with the immediacy of an iPhone app.

Stairs © Harold Davis

Stairs © Harold Davis

Try to consider when creating this kind of image: how will it look when blanketed with softness? Is this truly a water-color-like image, or is it something that needs harder edges? If harder edges are better, then you should be aiming for a more photographic look rather than something painterly.

Bicycle 1 © Harold Davis

Bicycle 1 © Harold Davis

It is good to be back in Heidelberg, where I am teaching a workshop. Coming back to a city I already know a bit where I have some friends is a little like coming home!

Bicycle 2 © Harold Davis

Bicycle 2 © Harold Davis

Banks of the River © Harold Davis

Banks of the River © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Photography

Flower at the National Memorial of the Heydrich Terror

Reinhard Heydrich was the second-in-command of the Nazi SS. Heydrich was charged with enhancing the Czech contribution to the Nazi war machine, and did his best in a terrible reign of terror. He was eventually assassinated by two members of the underground, who were parachuted into Czechoslovakia in a suicide mission by the Czech government-in-exile from Great Britain. Although somewhat faded, like this rose in a plastic bottle, flowers still mark the memorial to the victims of Heydrich on the busy Prague street where the church crypt in which the patriotic assassins met their end is located.

© Harold Davis

Flower at the Memorial to Heydrich Terror © Harold Davis

To capture the nostalgia and sadness of the place and what it memorializes, as well as the faded nature of the flower and bottle, I photographed the image wide-open with my Zeiss 135mm f/2 lens for shallow depth-of-field, and converted the image to black and white, leaving only a little splash of color in the dried-up rose.

Posted in Photography

Cesky Krumlov

This is a view of the southern Bohemia resort and touristic town of Cesky Krumlov, where I spent a few hours photographing. By the way, “Cesky” means a “bend in the river” in Czech. Many old towns in the Czech Republic are named beginning with Cesky, because these oxbow bends in a river lent themselves to natural fortification back in the days when defense against literal robber barons was required.

Cesky Krumlov © Harold Davis

Cesky Krumlov © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Inside the Old Market Square Tower

Inside Prague’s Old Town Square Tower they’ve constructed an elegant spiral ramp, with an elevator in the middle. Other than Prague’s TV Tower (I heard one guide call the TV Tower “the second ugliest building in the world,” and it certainly is very ugly and dominates the Prague skyline, for some reason it has grotesque statuary of babies climbing up the circular pillars holding up this hyper-modern structure, don’t ask me why because I haven’t a clue, and I also don’t really know what building is the “first ugliest,” there must be many candidates, but I digress), other than Prague’s TV Tower it is the only high-up viewing spot I’ve found in Prague you don’t have to climb. It certainly is nice riding the elevator in the core to the top, then strolling down the spiral ramp enjoying the somewhat unusual view, shown looking down from the top of the spiral, and from the bottom watching the elevator rise.

Inside the Old Market Tower - Looking Down © Harold Davis

Inside the Old Market Tower – Looking Down © Harold Davis

Inside the Old Market Tower - Looking Up © Harold Davis

Inside the Old Market Tower – Looking Up © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

The Prague Golem

I found this cabinet containing the Prague Golem at the entrance to Prague’s Old Jewish Cemetery. Fortunately, the cabinet appears locked. I hope it stays that way, at least while I am still in the Czech Republic. Although the single, small padlock may be a little puny to restrain a Golem, such as the famous and notably nasty Golem created according to legend by Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel back in the late 1500s.

The Prague Golem © Harold Davis

The Prague Golem © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone

View of Prague from the Old Town Square Tower

There are six towers that I know of in Prague to go up with my camera. I’ve been up four out of six so far. Mostly, they are an issue of climbing several hundred narrow steps, but this one—the Old Town Square Tower—has an elevator in addition to a spiral ramp (more on this in a later story). Anyhow, ascending the elevator rather than climbing up left me feeling chirpy. So in contrast to the somewhat somber Spires of Prague I shot this nice, bright canonical city view with my extreme wide-angle Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 lens. Two towers to go!

Prague from Old Town Hall Tower © Harold Davis

Prague from Old Town Hall Tower © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Spires of Prague

I’ve never seen such a veritable cacophony of spires in a European city as in Prague. These wonderful spires, or towers, help to impart Prague’s unusual and distinctive flavor. What is it about upright towers reaching for the sky that appeals to the engineers among humanity? Wait, hold that thought!

Spires of Prague © Harold Davis

Spires of Prague © Harold Davis

This view is photographed from the Powder Tower, which I climbed today. Prague boasts more towers you can climb than is generally the case. Each tower has a circular spiral staircase, seemingly hewn out of the stone. It can be very interesting encountering a party coming the other direction in one of these small, claustrophobia inducing staircases!

Posted in Photography

Prague Metamorphosis

With Prague’s grand castles and elegant squares overflowing with happy visitors and marquee shopping it is easy to forget that this is also the city of Franz Kafka. Metamorphosis happens here, whether it is a human turning into a bug, or the curved shapes of a nearly empty street altered in the reflection in a traffic mirror. The outer world is unaltered, but inside the metamorphosis the lone pedestrian wanders down a twisted street towards an uncertain end.

Metamorphosis © Harold Davis

Metamorphosis © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

Prague Sunset

Getting to Prague from the Bay area took a bit of travel time. I know, less than in covered wagon and sail ship times, but still it was into the next day, and the seat on the airplane was truly lived in. Alas, I made the change of planes in Frankfurt, but my suitcase did not—and flew on with Lufthansa into the unknown. So I arrived on a new day on a Prague afternoon with the clothes on my back and a single camera. Which I took out to explore right away. As I neared the Charles Bridge I saw clouds and maybe a rainbow forming, so I dashed up the spiral stairs in the bridge tower, added a polarizer, and snapped a few frames before my rainbow disappeared.

Prague Rainbow © Harold Davis

Prague Rainbow © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Photography

Degrees of Translucency

Transparency means something one can look through with clarity, like a sheet of glass or plastic. So what we are interested in is really translucency—the state or condition of being translucent, or partially transparent. But translucency is essentially an optical illusion, or trick of the human eye. When a light color contrasts with a dark color, and the light color is apparently “above” the darker color, then the human eye is trained to perceive degrees of translucency.

Degrees of Translucency © Harold Davis

Degrees of Translucency © Harold Davis

 

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Salutation to the Sun

I am taking a little time to process some of the botanical images I’ve shot so far this year. Soon I will be moving on to photograph the old stones of the old world, but it has truly been fun to have the time this spring to do a great deal of floral photography! Herewith, a few new botanicals. Enjoy!

Also note that I’ve opened a 2016 weekend session of my Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop (March 5-6, 2016, here in Berkeley, California). Click here for details and registration.

© Harold Davis

Salutation to the Sun © Harold Davis

Peony #1 © Harold Davis

Peony #1 © Harold Davis

Peony #1 on Black © Harold Davis

Peony #1 on Black © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Workshops

News & Workshop Updates

I am leaving in a few days on the first of my summer teaching adventures: First for Prague in the Czech Republic, and then to teach a Black & White Masterclass in Heidelberg, Germany. Before departing on this trip, I wanted to share some news and give you some workshop updates.

Alte Brucke Heidelberg © Harold Davis

Alte Brucke Heidelberg © Harold Davis

Recently, the advance copies of my new book, Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer: A Photographer’s Creative Companion and Workbook arrived. I am very excited and pleased with how my new book has come out, but of course I want to hear what you think once your copy has arrived. This book and the workbook that comes as part of it are specially designed as an aid to boosting the creativity in your photography (and life) so I would particularly like to know how it may have impacted your ongoing photography.

02-04-2015-Achieving-Cover

The bulk of the copies are coming on the proverbial boat from China, but it is great news and exciting for us that this project we have labored on so long will finally soon be available on Amazon, at Barnes & Nobles, and other bookstores.

Regarding workshops, the April 2016 photo-tour workshop to Southwest France, it is now fully subscribed, but we are taking a waiting list.

On the other hand, the autumn 2015 photography adventure to the sea-girt villages of Italy has a few spaces left, and I welcome interest from photographers in this exclusive photo tour. It will be a great photographic experience with a small group of photographers!

Harold Davis-Mona-Italy

There is only one spot available in the Flower Photography workshop I will be giving in Maine the first week of August. I don’t expect this opening to remain available for very long, and personally I am looking forward very much to exploring Maine. It is a part of the world I don’t know very well.

Parade of Peonies © Harold Davis

Parade of Peonies © Harold Davis

For 2016, I am taking an interest list for a Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop in the San Francisco Bay area. Details are yet to be worked out, but you can indicate interest (there is no charge for the interest list) by clicking here to go to Meetup.com. I’ll also be giving a 2016 version of my Achieving Your Potential mentoring workshop (ongoing for six months), you can find information about how to apply for admission by clicking here.

Thant’s it for now! Please feel free to contact me for more information about any of these items. I hope to be able to blog from Prague and Heidelberg, time permitting—and as always I look forward to hearing from my photography community.

Posted in Workshops