Star Magnolias in Bloom Again

Much of the rest of the country braces for the worst that winter can offer, but here the star magnolias are in bloom again. The combination of strong rains in December followed by day after day of brilliant sunshine with warm afternoons have lead to floral displays bursting with energy. Later on, if we don’t get more rain, the weather may lead to drought and unhappiness. But for now, it is all fecund and gorgeous—particularly my favorite star magnolia photographed over the weekend and shown below (links are to previous-year compositions from the same magnificent Magnolia stellata bush). It grows pretty much wild alongside Arlington Avenue a few blocks from me!

Star Magnolia © Harold Davis

Star Magnolia © Harold Davis

If you would like to learn more about my technique in creating this image,  in the Bay Area I’ll be presenting on the topic tomorrow evening (Tuesday Jan 27, 2015) at the Peninsula Photo Club (download the PDF flier here). You can also learn more in my webinar recording Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack. I’ll be leading in-depth workshops related to photographing flowers on a light box in Heidelberg, Germany in June and at the Maine Media Workshops in August.

Exposure data: Shot as a sequence of bracketed exposures using a Nikon D810 and Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens on a tripod. All exposures at ISO 64 and f/16, with shutter speeds between 1/20 of a second and six seconds.

Star Magnolia on White © Harold Davis

Star Magnolia on White © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

Succulent

Succulent © Harold Davis

Succulent © Harold Davis

Shot along the paths of Berkeley, California with my iPhone, and processed primarily using the Snapseed app iPhone while waiting for long exposures to complete. Having a camera and a digital darkroom in one’s phone means never being bored!

Posted in iPhone, Monochrome

San Francisco Night Photography Workshop Feb 20-23, 2015

2015-Night Photog SF-Harold Davis

Click here for information and registration, and here for a PDF download of this e-Card. Click here for Harold Davis Workshops & Events.

In a letter to his brother Theo, the great artist Vincent van Gogh wrote, “It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.” The advent of digital photography has revolutionized the practice of night photography because a digital sensor can record the spectacular colors of the night. These colors are created by light waves in spectrums that are invisible to the naked human eye. For the first time we can truly “see” the world of the night around us.

Night covers the globe half the time and—surprising to many—photographic opportunities with digital equipment are as exciting at night as they are during the day. Join night photographer Harold Davis, the author of Creative Night: Digital Photo Tips & Techniques, a book explaining night photography techniques and 100 Views of the Golden Gate, a book celebrating the visual glories of San Francisco’s iconic structure, as we explore the freedom of the night in the glorious surroundings of San Francisco.

What: Night Photography in San Francisco with Harold Davis

When: Feb 20-22, 2015

Where: Berkeley, CA (classroom sessions); field locations around the San Francisco Bay area

Tuition and registration: $695; click here for registration, information, and detailed curriculum. Note: Registration is by a YES RSVP and Paypal payment on Meetup; if you prefer to register privately simply contact us.

Workshop size: Maximum 12 participants

Field locations: Depend on conditions and group inclinations, may include Berkeley Pier, Oakland Waterfront Park, Mare Island, Marin Headlands, Golden Gate Bridge, Kirby Cover, Lombard Street curves, San Francisco waterfront and Bay Bridge

Full Moon Rising © Harold Davis

Full Moon Rising © Harold Davis

What folks have said about Harold Davis workshops and events:

  •  “A great artist and speaker!”—W. Anglin
  •  “Harold is genuine, generous, and gracious – He has a world of knowledge and expertise that he loves to share – his wonderful books show his monumental talents and skill set- his workshops shows the depth of his connecting with others in a very real and personal way.”—P. Borrelli
  • “Awesome! He patiently addressed questions from the audience which contained photographers of all levels , molding his answers to the level of understanding for each of us. His presentations covered a wonderful range of technical knowledge as well as emphasizing the need for images to have an emotional quality. The images he shares are breathtaking and he is generous in sharing many facets of how he captures such beauty.”—J. Phillips
  • “Not all photographers are good verbal communicators. Harold is someone who can DO and TEACH. A rare combination of talents.”—B. Sawyer
  • “Inspiring!”
  • “He was very giving of his talents and time. The course was very organized and thorough. Loved it! Learned so much! … I also wanted to let you know that I have more than paid the cost of the workshops I’ve done with you by selling some photos! I have sold three prints already.”—L. Beck
  • “Very creative and a marvelous instructor.”—Kay S.

Panorama of the Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po © Harold Davis


About Harold Davis

Harold Davis is an internationally-known digital artist and award-winning professional photographer. He is the author of many bestselling photography books including The Way of the Digital Photographer (Peachpit Press, awarded as a Top 10 Best 2013 Photography Book of the Year by Photo.net) and Creating HDR Photos (Amphoto). His Photographing Flowers (Focal Press) is a noted photography “classic,” and is rated the Best Guide to Flower Photography by Digital Photographer Magazine.

In addition to his activity as a bestselling book author, Harold Davis is an Adobe Influencer, a Moab Master printmaker and a Zeiss Lens Ambassador. Harold Davis’s work is in collections around the world. It is licensed by art publishers and others, and has appeared in numerous magazines and other publications. 

Harold’s black and white prints have been described as “hauntingly beautiful” by Fine Art Printer Magazine, and his floral prints have been called “ethereal,” with “a purity and translucence that borders on spiritual” by Popular Photography.

Recently Harold Davis’s work has been exhibited in venues including Photokina in Cologne, Germany, PhotoPlus Expo in New York, the Gallery Photo in Oakland, California, the Arts & Friends Gallery in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Awagami Gallery in Japan.

Harold Davis has led destination photography workshops to many locations including Paris, France; Spain and Morocco; and the ancient Bristlecone Pines of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. 

Harold’s popular online course on Craftsy.com, “Photographing Flowers”, has thousands of students. His ongoing photography workshops in partnership with institutions such as Point Reyes Field Seminars, the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California, and the Heidelberg Summer School of Photography are continually in demand and popular.

According to Rangefinder Magazine, Harold Davis is “a man of astonishing eclectic skills and accomplishments.” 


2015 Harold Davis Workshops & Events

Harold’s workshops are often sold-out, and fill up quickly. To avoid disappointment, please register early. Feel free to contact Harold Davis if you have any questions about our workshops! Please also consider Harold’s online webinar recordings and his Photographing Flowers course with Craftsy. We arrange many of our workshops and events using the Photography with Harold Davis Meetup group. Click here for Group and Workshop reviews on Meetup. Please subscribe to our list and/or blog feed for early notification about new workshop offerings.

Posted in Workshops

Face of the Deep

On a cloudy late afternoon I stood on the Great Beach of Point Reyes, California, watching the roiling surf that had made its way across the empty miles of the open Pacific Ocean. Sky, spray, and waves seemed to blend tumultuously as the light faded.

Waves Long Exposure 1 © Harold Davis

Waves Long Exposure 1 © Harold Davis

“Darkness was upon the face of the deep” goes the creation story in the Book of Genesis. From the oceans came life, and the first to come may be the last to go. In this teaming world there is still plenty of mystery in the deep—threatened by greed and rapacity like all environments, but still wild and wonderful.

Waves Long Exposure 2 © Harold Davis

Waves Long Exposure 2 © Harold Davis

I like to make images that use photography to reveal things that are not normally seen. The deep—the ocean—has so many faces. At a fast shutter speed, with the camera diaphragm open for a very short duration, the spray of water is crisply stopped in mid-air, down to the droplets, flicking off the wave (click here for two example photos at the bottom of the linked story).

Waves Long Exposure 3 © Harold Davis

Waves Long Exposure 3 © Harold Davis

Lengthening the duration of time the shutter is open smooths out the waves. Fast moving, crashing rollers become dreamlike when the camera helps you “see” their motion “graphed” over a second or two. You can check out this effect, also shot on Point Reyes, by clicking here.

Waves Long Exposure 5 © Harold Davis

Waves Long Exposure 5 © Harold Davis

Things are not always what they appear. What is the face of the deep? There is void, there is fullness, there is wonder: more facets visually and conceptually than we can truly encompass. The world is an amazing and wonderful place. The camera is but a paintbrush to help us know the face of the deep and does not always reflect the eye of the creator.

Waves Long Exposure 6 © Harold Davis

Waves Long Exposure 6 © Harold Davis

So musing on these things, I experimented with really long exposures. As the light faded, I dialed my ISO as low as it could go, to ISO 32, stopped the lens down to its smallest aperture, and exposed these images for several minutes each. The waves become abstracted layers.  We humans can look on the chaotic scene of breaking surf and spray and explore it as a serene manifestation of the rapture of the deep.

Posted in Abstractions, Photography

Making the Artisanal Inkjet Print

I was recently asked by an art gallerist I work with to help educate some clients regarding my printmaking. Essentially the issues come down to exploring how my prints differ from mass-produced inkjet prints, since largely the same equipment is used. In contrast to those you get from Costco or giclees from an art reproduction company, my prints require a great deal of hand labor. My FAQ: Prints by Harold Davis covers much of this ground, and I also think the following discussion helps put things in perspective.

What printer do you use?

We own a number of inkjet printers, and have worked extensively with both Canon and Epson printers. But I am happiest so far with my Epson Stylus Pro 9900. This is a behemoth of a printer that occupies the room in our house formerly known as the dining room! It is shown below a while back when it was first delivered.

Epson 9900 printer in our dining room © Harold Davis

Epson 9900 printer in its new home! © Harold Davis

Prints from a high-end inkjet printer such as the Epson 9900 go by a variety of names, including:

  • Inkjet print —I think you’d rather suspect this term would be in use;
  • Pigment print —the printer lays down pigment rather than altering an emulsion as in traditional photographic printing;
  • Giclee —named after the French verb gicier, “to spurt,” a neologism specifically coined to avoid the “stigma” of being called an inkjet print; and
  • Piezo print —named after the kind of print head that is in the printer.

Personally, I don’t think there is much in the name, and all these terms mean the same thing. After all, a rose by any other name is still a rose, and all that. Overall, I tend to favor “pigment print”.

Close-up of my signature

Close-up of my hand signature

The widespread confusion of terminology relates to the incredible spectrum of uses for this technology: You can buy inkjet prints at Costco, where they are honestly labeled, you can buy the somewhat pretentiously named giclee prints from companies that reproduce art, and you can collect one-off artisanal pigment prints from solo artists such as Harold Davis who make these prints one at a time in their studio.

The difference between these various uses isn’t really the gear that is involved, just as the difference between mediocre and great photography is rarely the gear the photographer uses. Quality in digital printmaking really comes down to knowing the quirks of the printer, understanding how to get the most out of digital workflow, how the technology is used, the vision behind the printmaking, and the care and time that is spent on each individual image.

I would emphasize the point that in my opinion just as much craft, skill, and artistry goes into making a good artisanal digital inkjet print as ever went into a print made in the chemical darkroom. The vision and care required are much the same, but the specific skills required are different.

What papers do you use?

I love paper in all its types and manifestations, and am constantly playing with and experimenting with paper from various sources. That said, I am mighty partial to papers by Moab from Legion Paper. (Full disclosure, I am a Moab Master and have a very cordial relationship with the great folks at Moab.) One thing Moab has going for its papers is that they do a great job of creating ICC printing profiles for specific printers, which helps me make the output files for the prints I want with a minimum of fuss.

I do try to match the paper I use to the image. It’s interesting, because sometimes an image will look good printed on multiple substrates, albeit with very different looks—and other times there is really only one good possibility.

Wheel of Life looks great printed on Slickrock Silver © Harold Davis

Wheel of Life (above) looks great printed on Slickrock Silver © Harold Davis

How long does it take you to make a print?

This depends on many variables, and absent a specific image file and paper it is a little hard to say. Larger prints are usually (but not always) much harder to print than smaller prints. Prints with a great deal of black can be hard to print (because they show flaws easily), as can prints with a white background (because dust and other problems show up).

Some papers are simply tougher to handle than others. Examples of paper that have some delicate handling characteristics include Moab Slickrock Silver and Awagami Unryu. These substrates are unique and beautiful, but sometimes beauty has its payback—in this case, these papers require extra attention as they go through and come out of the printing process.

If you include output file preparation, printing, and post-printing issues, an average print might take something like five to ten hours, in some cases a bit less, and in some cases much more: Sometimes I have to print an image 20 times until it is right and I get that one good print.

The take-away should be that considerable effort and time goes into every print that I make. There is no such thing as “mass printing” in my studio. Of course, this leaves out the hours or weeks it may take me to make my images in the first place.

Peonies mon amour by Harold Davis

Peonies mon amour makes a great print on Unryu © Harold Davis

Are your prints in limited editions?

The concept of a limited edition comes from traditional non-photographic printmaking. In a tradition that evolved from the nineteenth century, first one made an etching plate, or lithographic stone, then ran off prints using the plate or stone. When the edition was complete with 100 prints or so, the plate or stone was canceled or destroyed so that no more prints could be made. The point of this kind of limited edition was that a given plate or stone could only support a certain number of copies on press before it started to deteriorate and wear out, and also of course to indicate the scarcity of the print.

To me, this kind of limited edition makes relatively little sense with photography. You could even say, “limited” sense, or no sense at all.

Unless one is willing to destroy the original image file (which I, and most photographers, are certainly

Kumano kodo portfolio © Harold Davos

Kumano kodo portfolio under construction © Harold Davos

not willing to do), it almost smacks of deception. Here’s why: It has been common with a really popular images for the photographer to switch a detail slightly,  for example make the image slightly larger or smaller, and then keep making prints when the original-sized edition runs out of print numbers. This makes no real sense to me and doesn’t seem right.

What I affirmatively do is keep track of my prints. That way, I can look up how many copies have been printed of any image. Knowledgeable gallerists and collectors I have discussed this with tell me that this provides them with all they really need—a good sense of how many of a given print have been made. From there they can derive information about how popular and/or scarce a given print is.

Note that on the other hand I do produce portfolios in limited editions. In the case of a limited edition portfolio, the fact that it is limited shows how much hand effort goes into each one made. Examples of limited edition portfolios include my Botanique, Monochromatic Visions, and Kumano kodo portfolios. It’s important to be clear with these portfolios that it is the portfolio—and not the prints—that is part of a limited edition.

Prints from the Kumano kodo portfolio © Harold Davis

Prints from the Kumano kodo portfolio © Harold Davis

Do you hand-sign or digitally sign your prints?

To digitally sign a print means to add a signature within the computer file used to make the print. Hand-signing means that each print is individually signed using either a pencil or pen. All of my prints that are intended for art galleries or collectors are hand signed.

I use an archival pigment stylus for prints on paper where the signature will work best with ink, and a nice sharp art pencil (usually HB grade) for substrates where ink wouldn’t be best, such as Japanese washi.

It’s very easy to tell the difference between digital signatures and hand signatures; usually one can spot the difference at a glance.

Is a certificate of authenticity available?

Yes, a Certificate of Authenticity is available for prints purchased from my studio on request at the time of purchase.

Nautilus © Harold Davis

Nautilus © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Photographing Flowers for Transparency presentation Jan 27

I’ll be showing my botanical work and explaining “How to Photograph Flowers for Transparency on a Light Box” at the Peninsula Camera Club in San Mateo, CA on January 27, 2015 at 7:15PM. The presentation is open to the public with a requested donation. Click here to download the PDF flier for the eventmore details can also be found below.

Tulip Pano © Harold Davis

Tulip Pano © Harold Davis

What: In this presentation, Harold Davis shows the techniques he pioneered to create his floral masterpieces. Arrangement, composition, photography, and post-production will all be discussed, as will Harold’s special techniques for shooting on a light box. Please check out the PDF flier for more details.

Harold’s presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

Where: Central Park Recreation Center, 50 E 5th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401

When: Tuesday, January 27th 2015 – ( 7:15 – 9:00 pm )

Cost: The event is open to the public; however, a donation is requested to help defray camera club expenses.

Posted in Workshops

Night Light

2015-Night Photog SF-Harold Davis

Click here for information and registration, and here for a PDF download of this e-Card. Click here for Harold Davis Workshops & Events.

In a letter to his brother Theo, the great artist Vincent van Gogh wrote, “It often seems to me that the night is much more alive and richly colored than the day.” The advent of digital photography has revolutionized the practice of night photography because a digital sensor can record the spectacular colors of the night. These colors are created by light waves in spectrums that are invisible to the naked human eye. For the first time we can truly “see” the world of the night around us.

Night covers the globe half the time and—surprising to many—photographic opportunities with digital equipment are as exciting at night as they are during the day. Join night photographer Harold Davis, the author of Creative Night: Digital Photo Tips & Techniques, a book explaining night photography techniques and 100 Views of the Golden Gate, a book celebrating the visual glories of San Francisco’s iconic structure, as we explore the freedom of the night in the glorious surroundings of San Francisco.

What: Night Photography in San Francisco with Harold Davis

When: Feb 20-22, 2015

Where: Berkeley, CA (classroom sessions); field locations around the San Francisco Bay area

Tuition and registration: $695; click here for registration, information, and detailed curriculum. Note: Registration is by a YES RSVP and Paypal payment on Meetup; if you prefer to register privately simply contact us.

Workshop size: Maximum 12 participants

Field locations: Depend on conditions and group inclinations, may include Berkeley Pier, Oakland Waterfront Park, Mare Island, Marin Headlands, Golden Gate Bridge, Kirby Cover, Lombard Street curves, San Francisco waterfront and Bay Bridge

Full Moon Rising © Harold Davis

Full Moon Rising © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Simplicity

Sometimes simplicity is best, although simplicity can be hard to achieve. Both visually and technically, simple images give you no place to hide. In other words, complexity can hide problems, whereas simplicity does not. In a visually simple image, if you’ve done something wrong it usually hangs out for all the world to see. But when a simple image works—like these flowers shot for high-key transparency on a light box—the results can be compelling and have a special elegance and poetry.

Pink Tulip on the Verge of Opening © Harold Davis

Pink Tulip on the Verge of Opening © Harold Davis

Both images photographed in RAW at 36MP with Nikon D810 camera and Zeiss 100mm f/2 macro lens over the past weekend. Above: ISO 64, f/16, three blended exposures from 1/2 of a second to 2 seconds. Below: ISO 64, f/22, three blended exposures from 1/2 of a second to 3 seconds.

Calla Lilies  © Harold Davis

Calla Lilies © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Serendipity and photography

2015-Serendipity-Harold-Davis

Click here to download a PDF version of this e-Card, here for Workshops & Events, and here for Harold’s blog.

Posted in Writing

Prague, Vienna, and Budapest Photography Workshop

Early-registration discount of $500 has been extended until January 31!

2015-Vienna Prague-Harold Davis

Click here for a Prospectus, here for registration, and here to download a PDF version of this card. If you are interested in travel photography you may like my Making Memorable Travel Photos webinar recording.

About Prague: “One of Europe’s best-preserved cities, Prague has a romantic riverside location enhanced by graceful bridges and a magnificent skyline punctuated with medieval church spires. Its historic Old Town follows a plan laid out 1,000 years ago, with ancient squares and winding cobblestone streets. Haunting Prague Castle looms large across the Vltava River, rising above the exquisite CharlesBridge. Add extravagant, fairy-tale architecture; memorable classical music; and, these days, good food and drink, and it’s easy to see why Prague charms everyone who visits.”—Fodor Prague Travel Guide

About Vienna: “Virtually any activity you might undertake in the city — strolling through a museum, sipping coffee or shopping for shoes — will leave you feeling pampered and a little envious of the indulgent style to which the Viennese seem so accustomed. This is, after all, the city where chocolate cake and sparkling wine are an appropriate snack at any hour, where the Wiener schnitzel is typically bigger than the plate on which it’s served, and where residents all know how to waltz.”—Andrew Ferren, What to do in Vienna, New York Times, 12/31/2014

We will travel from Vienna to Budapest via hydrofoil down the Danube River.

About Budapest: “Budapest was the most fascinating city I visited this year…. Pest—on the mighty Danube’s eastern bank—has the coolest street art and graffiti on historic buildings, and “ruin bars” are the place to go at night because they are decorated with re-purposed and mismatched items in old indoor/outdoor spaces. If you’re a film fan, stay at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest, the reported muse for Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.”—Andrea Leitch, Producer, National Geographic Travel

Posted in Workshops

Megaliths Modern and Ancient

There are probably more neolithic sites in Portugal than anywhere else in Europe. While I was trying to locate a large neolithic site near Evora, Samantha guided me beneath a freeway. Highways like this in Portugal are great for long distance travelers—they automatically dock the toll out of a device in your car—but carry little traffic and are essentially public works projects that are highways to nowhere.

Freeway to nowhere © Harold Davis

Freeway to nowhere © Harold Davis

Staring up at the freeway silhouetted to infinity against the sky, I mused on how ephemeral it all is. The megalith shown below is from a neolithic installation that is perhaps 25,000 years old. No one knows what it really was for; maybe, like Stonehenge it was part of some kind of large astronomical measurement site. For neolithic man, moving these huge stones into position on a hillside surrounded by cork trees must have been a tremendous undertaking.

In years to come, freeways to nowhere may also decay, get covered with lichen, disconnect and become fragmentary. Then people from the future (if there are any) may wonder about who built these huge structure at such great effort, and to what end (does the gap stretching towards infinity between the lanes point at a specific star?)

The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley put this best in Ozymandius (written in the early 1800s):

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Megalith © Harold Davis

Megalith © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome, Portugal

Castelo Marvao

Late on a frigid November afternoon I checked into the Pousada Santa Maria—a converted convent—in the eagle-nest town of Marvao, Portugal. I was the only guest at the hotel. I dropped my bags in my room, dressed in every layer I had with me, grabbed my camera and tripod, and headed out into the oncoming evening to photograph.

Castelo Marvao © Harold Davis

Castelo Marvao © Harold Davis

High above the Iberian plain, and facing the Spanish border, Marvao has been a refuge from time out of mind. During the Roman era, star-crossed lovers are said to have fled the wrath of armies and settled on these heights. Their descendants added successive fortifications, leading to the castle you see in the photo, protecting a small white-washed village that clings nearby.

On the ramparts of the castle it was getting even colder, and the wind was picking up. I made my way to the top tower of the castle and watched the last of the sunset, and the lights of the village below come on, secure knowing I had my headlamp with me. The clouds swirled in, and I was alone in a white-out.

Back at the hotel, I warmed up in the lounge, waiting for the dining room to open. Its late hours were typical of dining in Portugal. Had it been light, and but for the fog, I would have been able to see hundreds of miles across Spain during my long and mediocre meal. My server wheezed and sniffled and told me, “We all are sick here, it is always cold, even in summer.”

As it was, I was grateful for my warm bed, and grateful that I had seized the last light to photograph this incredibly romantic landscape!

Related stories: Travels with Samantha; Terraces in Portugal; Rats at Mafra.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Portugal

Come join me to photograph flowers in Maine this summer!

I’ll be presenting a full week of Creative Flower Photography—including Photographing Flowers for Transparency on a light box—at Maine Media Workshop in Rockport on the beautiful coast of Maine from August 2-8, 2015. Many of my east coast friends who have asked when I’ll be giving this workshop closer to them; if this is you, here is your chance. Since there are only 14 spots in the workshop, my suspicion is that it will fill fast. Click here for information and registration. I am really looking forward to photographing flowers with you on the coast of Maine in the summertime, when botanicals should be lush and gorgeous.

Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica © Harold Davis

Workshop description: In this unique, 5-day workshop offering, Harold Davis shows the techniques he pioneered to create his floral masterpieces. Arrangement, composition, photography, and post-production will all be covered, as will Harold’s special techniques for shooting on a light box. In addition, several sessions will explore field floral photography, and alternative techniques related to the studio photography of flowers. Harold will also show his spectacular botanical prints in the context of a discussion of the best way to create prints of floral imagery.

Star Magnolia 2

Star Magnolia 2 © Harold Davis

Topics covered include:

  • Understanding transparency and translucency
  • Introduction to floral arrangement and composition
  • Botanical art in the digital era
  • Shooting florals in the field
  • Creative field techniques
  • Best practices in macro photography
  • Shooting flowers on a dark background
  • Shooting on a light box
  • Understanding high-key post-production
  • Working with Photoshop layers
  • High-key HDR
  • LAB color effects
  • Backgrounds and textures
  • Preparing to make floral pigment prints
  • Tips & techniques from Harold Davis
  • Implementing one’s own vision

Registration and info: August 2-8, 2015; limited to 14 participants; $1,245 workshop fee; link for information and registration.

Bounty of the Garden © Harold Davis

Bounty of the Garden © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Workshops

Workshop Updates

The new year means new beginnings, and is a good time to take stock of the schedule details and changes related to my workshops that you may want to know about!

  • Photograph Prague, Vienna and Budapest in June 2015: early-registration discount ($500) ends January 15, 2015. Click here for more info. If you do have an interest in coming on this photographic tour, please register early and take advantage of the discount.
  • Night Photography in San Francisco, Feb 20-22, 2015: I’m really excited about this one, it will be great fun, filling fast but still some places. Click here for more info.
  • Sea-Girt Villages of Italy Photography Adventure: the dates have changed slightly on this one. The new dates are Oct 28 – Nov 11, 2015. This is a unique opportunity to visit many photographic “bucket list” locations with me. Click here for more info.
  • I have new 2015 workshops in the offing sponsored by Point Reyes Field Seminars, Heidelberg Summer School of Photography and Maine Media Workshops. Please check my Workshops & Events page for details.

Let us know if you have any question about any of these workshops, or need help with registration. Hope to see you there, and best wishes for a great year in photography!

If you’ve enjoyed one of my workshops, please consider helping us out by referring a photographic friend. By way of thanks, if you refer someone who registers in one of the workshops we sponsor I will be happy to send you a signed copy of one of my books (your choice)!

Autumn Arbor © Harold Davis

Autumn Arbor © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Drowning in a Plethora of Stuff

As the father of four kids with ages from six to seventeen it is not hard for me to feel like I am drowning in a plethora of stuff. Each child brings home tons of things that are often on that borderline between something one really doesn’t want to curate long term, but too cute to toss.

Leaving my kids out of it, there’s simply too much stuff around.

This is particularly egregious when the stuff is “mall junk” made in China: things we don’t really need, created with no concern for the environment, using slave labor.

Leather Dye Pits, Fez © Harold Davis

Leather Dye Pits, Fez © Harold Davis

To inveigle against cheaply made plastic junk that is essentially a by-product of our thoughtless petroleum-based society is easy. This stuff will come to rest in a landfill somewhere, and will not enhance our spirituality, nor give us meaning in our lives, nor add beauty to our lives, nor increase our connection with other people.

Writers and thinkers such as Thoreau and Tolstoy have, to a greater or lesser extent, used the fruits of a stuff-based civilization to warn that stuff doesn’t bring happiness. Even comedians get into the act, with an entire George Carlin shtick based on the premise that stuff pervades our lives, simultaneously attracting and imprisoning us.

But does this knowledge help us avoid over-accumulation of things, make us wise, or tell us how to build a better life? Not really. There are no easy answers.

Gran Via, Barcelona © Harold Davis

Gran Via, Barcelona © Harold Davis

First, the world may be drowning in stuff, but some parts of this interconnected world are “a lot more equal than others” (in the words of George Orwell). People without shelter or food want more stuff, not less stuff, and are often subsisting on stuff discarded by others.

What happens when “stuff” goes online and becomes virtual?

The race to build virtual stuff, and to provide easier virtual access to this stuff, is a race to the bottom. Everyone can be a “published” writer on Amazon. There are more than 700,000 images in the virtual inventory at Art.com; this imagery ranges from stock photography to reproductions of van Gogh paintings, all available as inexpensive reproductions.

Gerbera Sideways  © Harold Davis

Gerbera Sideways © Harold Davis

How do you navigate through the dross? What is the point of creating more words, or more imagery, to compete with this mélange of cheap stuff?

Do we want to spend our lives making things that are “just stuff”?

I think not.

White on white © Harold Davis

White on white © Harold Davis

Whatever you do, however you do it, however much stuff is involved, be thoughtful and keep things simple. We don’t need more junk in this beautiful world of ours. We do need more work that is thoughtful, creates beauty, adds to our spiritual values, and fosters connections between people.

Eschewing hypocrisy and the hive mind that encourages rapacious consumption solely for the sake of consumption are good goals as well.

Why must people be so mean and greedy? If we did it right, there would be enough for all, without all the junk, and with beauty to spare.

Story of O © Harold Davis

Story of O © Harold Davis

Posted in Writing