Waterdrops via Otus 85

I shot this image with my new Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 lens during a break in the rainy weather. To get closer to the waterdrops, I added a 36mm extension tube. The exposure data was 1/15 of a second, f/7.1 and ISO 100, with the camera on a tripod. I like the brightness of the way the lens renders, as well as the sharp detail of the in-focus blade of grass with waterdrops and the attractive bokeh of the out-of-focus areas.

Waterdrops via Otus 85 © Harold Davis

Waterdrops via Otus 85 © Harold Davis

A waterdrop functions like a fisheye lens, and shows an almost 360 degree view of the miniature world around it. If you look closely at the waterdrops in this photo, you’ll see I am reflected while taking the photo along with Otus 85, as well as a street sign. More interestingly, the first waterdrop reflects an image of the next waterdrop in the row; presumably, this is an infinite chain, like looking in a mirror reflecting a mirror, but at a very small size.

Posted in Water Drops

Flash Craftsy Sale

Photographing Flowers is the acclaimed online Craftsy course with Harold Davis. Sign up with a special 50% off today for yourself or as a gift!

ALL Craftsy classes (choose from an extensive catalog) for just $19.99 or less now through December 25th, 2014. Click here to take advantage of this special flash sale.

Rainy Day © Harold Davis

Rainy Day © Harold Davis

Sintra Garden © Harold Davis

Sintra Garden © Harold Davis

Alstromeria Ballet © Harold Davis

Alstromeria Ballet © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Seasons Greetings: Graced with Light!

Best wishes of the season from myself, Phyllis and our whole family!

2014-Greetings-Harold Davis

Click here for a PDF version of this card.

Posted in Photography

Katie Rose, Photographer

Mommy was very tired. Mommy gets up most days at 5:30 am to get the four kids to school, ferries them to karate, and works hard too. So Mommy went upstairs for a short nap.

Stuffy Study #1 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #1 © Katie Rose Davis

Katie Rose, now six years old, knew Mommy needed her nap. When she was a little younger, Katie might have kept her mom from napping so she could play with her. If Katie had been sleepy, too, she would have snuggled in for a nap herself with mommy and her favorite blanket.

Stuffy Study #2 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #2 © Katie Rose Davis

But neither of these were the case. Katie Rose had an idea of what to do. Once her mommy had fallen sound asleep, she went and gathered all her stuffed animals (a/k/a “stuffies”) and brought them en masse up to her mom’s bedroom.

Stuffy Study #3 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #3 © Katie Rose Davis

Next, she went hunting for her mom’s iPhone. She found it in a side pocket of her mom’s purse. Heading back upstairs with the iPhone, she proceeded to arrange her stuffies in situ for portraiture, and used the iPhone camera to make a series of about 24 photos, ten of which you see here.

Stuffy Study #4 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #4 © Katie Rose Davis

No adults intervened, or were even aware of what Katie Rose was doing until after her mom woke up, when Katie Rose showed her the photos on her Mommy’s iPhone.

Stuffy Study #5 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #5 © Katie Rose Davis

This is a true story, and Katie Rose’s very first copyright notices. There will be a limited edition of prints (just kidding!).

Stuffy Study #6 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #6 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #7 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #7 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #8 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #8 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #9 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #9 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #10 © Katie Rose Davis

Stuffy Study #10 © Katie Rose Davis

Posted in Katie Rose

Ruined Kasbah

According to our guide Abdul, the indigenous construction in Morocco is very environmentally friendly: made of earth and sand, when it is no longer used it gradually decays back to the soil from which it was made. Many structures in fact are crumbling, such as this Kasbah in Ouarzazate, Morocco.

Ruined Kasbah  © Harold Davis

Ruined Kasbah © Harold Davis

After settling into our hotel, and a good meal at a restaurant nearby that included both camel and pigeon, I went exploring for night photography with a friend. Stepping into abandoned ruins, this ancient Kasbah struck stark silhouettes, partly enhanced by ambient light from the town, against a backdrop of the bright stars of the sub-Saharan night. Indeed, it was crumbling back into the earth from which it was made!

Exposure information: Nikon D810, Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 lens, tripod mounted; two combined exposures at f/5.6 and ISO 200, exposure times one minute and 2.5 minutes.

Posted in Monochrome

Terraces in Portugal

In the Upper Douro Valley of Portugal the grapes are grown that become the famous port wine that has made Oporto, Portugal’s second city on the banks of the Douro River where it meets the Atlantic, a commercial center since time immemorial. The vines are grown on steep terraces, created over the centuries by hand. This area is a World Heritage Site, and looking at the immensity of the labor involved in this landscape one can surely understand why.

Terraces © Harold Davis

Terraces © Harold Davis

I shot this image handheld across the valley of a river a tributary to the Douro River on a late autumn day with quickly shifting cloud cover. Of course, this is a composition of patterns on a large scale. Abstractly, one could almost be looking at sine waves rather than stone terraces. Look closely, and you can see the staircases used to navigate from one level to the next.

But the eye needs some relief, so when I chose the portion of this vast landscape to render I let a road curve and meander through the frame from left to right, and balanced the road with a bright spot of light coming through the clouds, and coming down from the upper right.

Here’s the color version of the photo:

Terraces, Upper Douro Valley, Portugal © Harold Davis

Terraces, Upper Douro Valley, Portugal © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Monochrome

Kumano Portfolio: A Work in Progress

My Kumano kodo Portfolio is a handmade labor of love and a work in progress. But we’re making great progress! This portfolio is designed to showcase in form and content my photos of the Kumano kodo pilgrimage trail on the Kii peninsula in Japan, sacred to Shugendo Buddhism.

Here are some shots from the first prototype, soon to be renamed AP (artist proof) #1. Incidentally, the portfolio edition consists of 12 signed and numbered portfolios plus four artists proofs. Each portfolio is created by folding a single 4 meter long sheet of Awagami Kozo washi, so there are no fasteners, only folds. See Working on the Kumano kodo prototype for some more info about this unique artist-created artifact. Each portfolio is signed and numbered, with my Japanese chop hand-applied, on the title page.

This photo shows the spread in the center of the portfolio:

Kumano kodo portfolio center spread

Here’s one of the long, long sheets of Kozo coming out of the printer:

Kumano kodo sheet

A single one of the sheets in a roll before it is scored and folded:

One sheet rolled

Scoring the sheet of Kozo by hand with the waste paper shown:

Scoring the portfolio

Two more spreads from “inside” the portfolio, one in color and one in black & white:

Kumano kodo portfolio temple and Buddha

Kumano kodo portfolio garden and vista

The entire folded sheet of Kozo fits into a kind of outer sleeve with a panoramic print of the view from one of the sacred passes along the Kumano kodo. The sleeve is scored with flaps, and is also signed and numbered. We’re still working on a couple of variations, but this is the cover of one of the sleeves we are considering:

Kumano kodo portfolio cover

So far, numbers 1-4 of the portfolio are spoken for. Numbers 5 and 6 are on offer for $1,150 each. If you’d like one, we can offer a modest pre-publication discount, as well as thanks for contacting me directly.

Related stories: Working on the Kumano kodo prototype; Print Prices to Rise; Special Print Offer.

Posted in Photography

Market in Marrakesh

This is an image made after dusk with a long (300mm) lens from above the Jemaa-al-Fna in Marrakesh, Morocco. I used five exposures at shutter speeds from 3/5 of a second to 5 seconds with the camera on my tripod, and combined the exposures using Nik’s HDR Efex Pro plugin in Photoshop and also with hand-layering.

Market in Marrakesh © Harold Davis

Market in Marrakesh © Harold Davis

Related images: You can get a better idea of my position in making this image from Jemaa-al-Fna and Wider View of the Jemaa-al-Fna.

Posted in Photography

Panorama from Morocco

This is a thirty-image panorama I shot in Boulmane Dades, an oasis in trans-Atlas Morocco, at sunset. Each image was 36 MP, so the entire panorama made for a very big file indeed. This version is reduced in size so that it can be viewed!


If the panorama doesn’t start moving automatically, you can move it with your mouse (or a gesture) to see all of it! Stop the motion by clicking in the image area; double-click to open it larger in its own window.

Posted in Photography

My prints in a New York loft

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the New York loft apartment of a friend of mine who collects my prints. My prints were carefully selected and framed, tastefully arranged, and placed in positions that made sense in the context of the layout of the loft. Of course, I work frequently with my images and prints, but that doesn’t mean I really “see” them.

I know these snapshots are not great interior design photos, and that this is a lived-in space (which is a good thing!). But I think you’ll get the idea. What’s striking about seeing a substantial body of my work integrated into a living space is that there is kind of a glow—harmonious, serene and powerful—that emanates across my prints, regardless of the subject matter. One can have no idea of the power of the prints from looking at an online version of the image: they become so much more when they are made manifest as physical objects. Which is part of why I think it is so important for photographers to be closely involved in making their own prints.

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Links to the images shown here as prints (from top to bottom): Star Magnolia Panorama (bedroom); Papaver and Iridicaea; Cherry Blossoms (two prints in the dressing area); Kira at Passy Station (over the dresser); Egg Yolk Separator, Story of O, and Lonely Islet (Dining area); White Irises; Temple Dragon.

Related story: Print prices to rise; special print offer.

Posted in Photography

A room with a view

When I travel I always try to select hotels that are likely to have interesting views, and to request a room with a view if possible. Of course, my idea of an interesting view doesn’t always coincide with the normal tourist vista! I do look around carefully to see what I might like to photograph when I get to my new “home away from home.” The photo below was taken out of the ninth floor window of my hotel room in Barcelona, Spain at the Avenida Palace Hotel facing south towards Montjuic. I like the collage of heating ducts as much as the details that show that the scene in is in Barcelona.

View of a Barcelona Roof © Harold Davis

View of a Barcelona Roof © Harold Davis

Some other examples of my passion for photographing from (or of) hotel room windows include this view out a back window of the pre-renovation Hotel Lutece in Paris showing (once again) complicated duct work, this view of my window on the cathedral in Bourg, France, as much about the lighting as about the incredible church (the related iPhone capture shows a bit more of the room itself), this view down on the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona from the Hotel Espanya showing an unusual angle on the medieval section of town, and the view from my room over the Bay of Tangiers at night in Morocco shown below.

Bay of Tangiers at Night © Harold Davis

Bay of Tangiers at Night © Harold Davis

Posted in Digital Night, Monochrome, Photography

Working on the Kumano kodo portfolio prototype

My Kumano kodo portfolio of images from spiritual Japan has been a long time coming. We’re printing it on one long piece of Awagami Kozo washi, then scoring and folding it into a clam shell, fan-folded shape on a single long piece of paper. This has presented some technical software difficulties, as the paper length is greater than our Epson 9900 can handle using its native code.

Kumano kodo portfolio prototype © Harold Davos

Kumano kodo portfolio prototype © Harold Davos

The origami-like main portion of this portfolio includes thirteen images from my travel in Japan, as noted in one uncut but folded sixteen foot (about 5 meters) long piece.  The portfolio is wrapped in an additional image, a panoramic slip cover. Besides these fourteen images there is a descriptive booklet explaining the images; it all fits neatly in a  presentation box.

The Kumano kodo portfolio is being produced by hand in a small edition of twelve hand signed and numbered copies, along with four artist proofs. We have the first two copies already promised to collectors, and one copy available at $650. Please let us know if you’d like to reserve it. After the third copy is sold, the price of the edition rises to $1,150.

Posted in Photography

Wider view of the Jemaa-el-Fna (with Zeiss 15mm)

This wider view of the Jemaa-al-Fna, the central square in Marrakesh, Morocco, was shot with the Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 lens, allowing a very broad view of the square in all its extent, but minimizing optical distortion. The fence shown in the right foreground is on the balcony where my tripod perched. The image shows steam and smoke rising from the famous food stalls to the left in the square, where I had a glorious and fun meal seated at the impromptu counters.

Jemaa-al-Fna 2  © Harold Davis

Jemaa-al-Fna 2 © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

ISO 51,200

Towards the bottom of one of the spires of Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain it is dim to the point of almost pitch blackness. Tripods are not allowed. So I did the best I could, and shot handheld upwards with the heck boosted out of the ISO (ISO stands for sensitivity to light, and in days gone by would have been noted as film speed). The ISO scale on my D810 tops out at 51,200—almost inconceivably high compared to the camera’s “native” ISO of 64. Sure, there’s a bit of noise, but on the whole the image at this preposterous level of sensitivity to light has quite a bit of quality and resolution. The last few years have surely heralded a revolution in the ability of the current generation of cameras to record extreme low light conditions.

Inside the Sagrada Familia Spire © Harold Davis

Inside the Sagrada Familia Spire © Harold Davis

Here’s the complete exposure information: Nikon D810, 28-300mm Nikkor zoom lens at 122mm, 1/8 of a second using Vibration Reduction (VR) at f/16 and ISO 51,200, handheld. Note that I needed to stop the lens down (to f/16) to get enough depth-of-field to keep the spirals in focus, which is part of what compelled me to boost the ISO so maniacally.

Posted in Photography

The Photoshop Doctor is in: take two webinars and call me in the morning

Stymied by the nuts-and-bolts of creative photography and post-production in Photoshop? Try my webinars for a different approach to jump start your success. Unlimited access to these recordings is $19.95 each. Here’s a comment after watching Photoshop Layers 101:

“Watching Harold work on his imagery, as he would in ‘real-life’, has helped me lock-in techniques that I had read about, but were only theoretical to me. It’s great to have multiple delivery channels for Harold’s information, and I now feel confident I can succeed.”01-title-layers101

Click here to see more feedback about these webinars!

We currently have seven webinar recordings available:

Posted in Workshops