Welcome to Maine!

My workshop starts this evening, and I’ve had fun today exploring the mid-coast of Maine. I was lucky to visit the Owl’s Head Lighthouse just now, with a functioning light under the jurisdiction of the US Coastguard.

Owl's Head Light © Harold Davis

Owl’s Head Light © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Schloss Shadow

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go—so its the perfect time to work on some back images on my production machine. This castle shadow is from my recent stay in Heidelberg, Germany, photographed on a street as I wandered around after I gave my workshop.

Schloss Shadow © Harold Davis

Schloss Shadow © Harold Davis

Posted in Germany, Monochrome

Recent News, Interviews, and Webinar

Caddy © Harold Davis

Chevy © Harold Davis

Please check out the following links!

Castle Shadow © Harold Davis

Castle Shadow © Harold Davis

Painterly Floral Triptych © Harold Davis

Painterly Floral Triptych © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, iPhone, Photography, Writing

New Interview with Harold Davis

harold davis new graphic

Check out this great new interview with me by Kathleen McCaffrey on the Picsastock Blog. The interview explores (among other things) my interpretation, style, and process: “Photography is a way of sharing what we see—a very important part of who we are—with others. I like to create images that relate to some kind of order in the chaos of the universe, and at the same time speak to the poetry in nature and humanity that is always around us.” Click here to see the whole interview.

Posted in Writing

Workshop Opportunities

I am leaving to teach a workshop in Maine at the end of the coming week (I get to do some personal exploration of the Maine landscape with my camera and to eat lobster as well as teaching!). Before I leave I want to call your attention to some upcoming workshop and travel opportunities in the remainder of 2015 and the first half of 2016. Please note that my Workshops & Events page is always a good way to stay on top on what I have coming up.

The “most photogenic” Italian locations

First, please consider my two-week photo tour to what an Italian friend has called “the most photogenic places in Italy” beginning October 28, 2015. This very small group will visit Florence, Pisa, the five towns of Cinque Terre, Naples, Vesuvius, Pompei, Capri and Anacapri, Positano, and the Amalfi coast. If you consider the length of the photo tour and all that is included I think you will find it very reasonably priced. Please click here for details, and drop me an email if you’d like to come or need more info.

Harold Davis-Mona-Italy


On December 5, 2015 I’ll be giving a Waves Photography workshop sponsored by Point Reyes Field Seminars. This is a one-day workshop with classroom and field components that I have done for a numbers of years, and it usually sells out early. This year, I am strictly limiting the class size, so there will be even fewer places than in previous years. Great fun (and good photography) whether the waves are small (as they have been some years) or whether there is mighty Pacific surf (as in other years)!

Waves Long Exposure 5 © Harold Davis

Waves Long Exposure 5 © Harold Davis

Flowers for Transparency

In 2016 I have two workshops scheduled that may interest you. Photographing Flowers for Transparency, here in Berkeley, CA on the March 5-6, 2016 weekend, is filling up quickly, but there are still a few spots left.

Clematis on Black  © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Achieve Your Potential in 2016

The 2016 edition of Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer is an ongoing mentoring opportunity; this time round we will be following the structured exercises in the workbook that accompanies my new book as well as working over a period of six months to fulfill our potentials. The initial session is scheduled for March 12-13, 2016.

Hall of Mirrors, Prague © Harold Davis

Hall of Mirrors © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer is now available

My new book, Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer: A Photographer’s Creative Companion and Workbook, is now available and shipping. Per our family tradition, Katie Rose is shown with the new book cover. In addition to my images and words of wisdom, Achieving Your Potential includes a 48-page tear-out section you can use as your personal photography workbook to enhance your creativity. A pre-publication review in Rangefinder Magazine put it this way: “The indomitable Harold Davis—fine-art photographer, author, educator, all-around oracle—[has] now added to his extraordinary canon an interesting fusion of photographic wisdom and down-home advice.”

© Harold Davis

Katie Rose with Achieving Your Potential cover © Harold Davis

For me, a trip down memory lane, here are some previous book covers with Katie Rose: Monochromatic HDR Photography; Creating HDR Photos; Photographing Flowers; Creative Landscapes; Photoshop Darkroom 2; Creative Portraits; Photoshop Darkroom; and Creative CompositionHa! Good thing Phyllis and I had Katie’s help with all these books, otherwise we never could have gotten ’em done.

Posted in Katie Rose, Writing

Creative Flower Photography with Harold Davis Webinar Recording

If you missed my webinar on Creative Flower Photography (sponsored by Topaz Labs), or were on the webinar and want to replay it, here’s the link for watching the Creative Flower Photography with Harold Davis webinar recording on YouTube. This webinar covers my unique workflow and processing techniques for creating transparent flower imagery starting with photography on a light box.


Star Magnolia © Harold Davis

Star Magnolia © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops, Writing

Clematis on Black

I’ve edited the slide show on my website home page, www.digitalfieldguide.com, to include some new images including: Salutation to the Sun, Spires of Prague, House of Mirrors, and the Clematis on Black shown below. Check out the slide show on my home page!

Clematis on Black  © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers


Work on St Vitus’s Cathedral, which is situated within the Prague Castle, began in 1344, and wasn’t completed until the 20th century. St Vitus contains the Czech crown jewels, and the tomb of Good King Wenceslas. There’s also a great tower to climb.

If you go, admission to the tower is separate from the Cathedral, and there are 287 steps to the top. Note that St Vitus’s Tower is distinct from the Dalibor Tower, which is also within the Prague Castle. The Dalibor Tower was used as a jail and torture chamber. Some guide books say that the phrase “singing like a violin” is said to come from the eponymous Dalibor, a nobleman and enemy of the king, who supposedly played his violin for food while imprisoned in the tower. However, according to the signage within the Dalibor Tower, the truth seems to be that Dalibor’s screams whilst being stretched on the rack gave rise to the musical comparison.

But I digress. The views from the top of St Vitus’s Tower, both of Prague and of the cathedral itself, are spectacular.

Down Spout © Harold Davis

Down Spout © Harold Davis

Flying Buttresses © Harold Davis

Flying Buttresses © Harold Davis

St Vitus's Cathedral © Harold Davis

St Vitus’s Cathedral © Harold Davis

Related story: The Spires of Prague.

Posted in Czech, Photography

Conversation with Harold Davis

Dominique James has published a Q&A with me on his blog, along with a cool curation of some of my images. Check it out! Thanks DJ.

Yesterday I photographed the Dahlia shown below hand-held and wide open so the flower center would be sharp with the petals becoming soft. This contrasts with the high depth-of-field, stopped down approach I used with flowers from the same plant a few days ago.

Dahlia Wide Open © Harold Davis

Dahlia Wide Open © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D810, Zeiss Makro-Planar 50mm f/2 at f/2, 1/500 of a second and ISO 400, hand held.

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Writing

Selfie with Wig

As someone who has been traveling a great deal lately I’d like to make the unoriginal observation that wherever you go, there you are. It’s also the case that wherever you go someone will be making a “selfie.” Selfies—self portraits—are the undeniable proof that you have been somewhere. In their current widespread form, whether in front of the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower, and replete with selfie sticks and camera phones, they represent a dumbing down for the masses of the solipsistic narcissism represented by Cindy Sherman and others in the fin de siecle years of the twentieth century. Or maybe people are just full of themselves? I am shown in here in an iPhone selfie wearing a gray wig with my cap perched on top via the iPhone Lo-Mob app.

Seflie with Wig © Harold Davis

Selfie with Wig © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone

Putting Paid to Purloining Picture Snatchers: Working with Pixsy

I am often asked how I deal with the issue of image theft, considering my extensive online presence on my blog and on my Flickr stream. My answer has been that I don’t release high-resolution files except to known reliable clients under contract, and that I expect some image thievery to be taking place with the low-resolution versions I post online. This, I explain, is a little like “spoilage” in a retail store: part of the cost of doing business. Without images online no one will find me, and over the years I have made many new clients via my blog and Flickr. Incidentally, I explain, I don’t watermark my online images because watermarks are ugly, and can easily be cloned out.

Wasp © Harold Davis

Wasp © Harold Davis

It turns out that I have substantially underestimated the prevalence of commercial image theft of my work. Sure, I was aware of quirky uses of my work like the woman who tattooed my cherry blossom branch on her back. But by and large, I didn’t look for examples of image appropriation, and I was unaware of the extent of the problem. For example, my photo of a wasp shown above, shot somewhat precariously on the ceiling of my living room while standing on a cardboard box (a diaper carton, fortunately we have past that stage, you can see this in the blog story about the photo, but I digress) placed on a chair, has been widely used without a license by many pest control companies.

The gentle image of waves on a shore shown below is used without license by several real estate companies located near one of the coasts.

Generally, image theft is as easy as right-clicking on the image, and choosing Save As from the context menu, then posting the photo without attribution. The fact that all my images are labeled as copyrighted, and that Flickr is set to “All Rights Reserved” seems to be widely ignored. I’m sure this is the situation for many photographers who post their work.

Waves on the Shore © Harold Davis

Waves on the Shore © Harold Davis

This information about the extensive use of my photos on the web came to my attention via a startup company named Pixsy that has some nifty technology to combat image theft, along with an innovative business model. Here’s how Pixsy works: First you register with Pixsy, and point their software at your online image stream, such as my website and Flickr. Pixsy then comes back with an automated image-matching search of the Internet, with matches showing suspected image theft. In my case, initially there were six-figures of matches (hence Phyllis and my internal designation of looking through these matches as “going down the rabbit hole”).

It’s up to the individual to go through the automated matches to determine which ones are legitimate, and which are image theft. For example, images I have actually licensed might show up on the Pixsy search, as well as all my book covers.

Road Trip © Harold Davis

Road Trip © Harold Davis

When you find an example of image theft, you submit it to Pixsy. For example, my image of an empty road in Nevada shown above seems to turn up without license on a great many travel websites.

Pixsy lets you know whether they’ve accepted or rejected the submission. It’s company policy to only accept image submissions where there is a good likelihood of collecting a usage fee. Image submissions that are routinely rejected include: uses in countries that Pixsy doesn’t police (some countries are on a list for future handling, others are simply too lawless when it comes to copyright); non-commercial uses; the general catchall that Pixsy doesn’t think there is a “statistical likelihood of recovery”; and malefactors like Pinterest who hide behind the noxious common carrier provisions of the DMCA. Phyllis has most often been going down our rabbit hole, and trying to take some care with what she submits so that the usage is likely to meet Pixsy’s requirements; our acceptance rate is running somewhere between 30% and 50%.

Wet Poppy Bud © Harold Davis

Wet Poppy Bud © Harold Davis

Even if Pixsy doesn’t accept the submission, now that we know this usage is out there we can of course send a take-down notice on our own. Depending on the user, this may or may not work—my image of wet poppy bud shown above seems to turn up (among other places) on X-rated sites, many of which seem not to be particularly cooperative.

With an accepted submission, Pixsy determines a rate for the usage and begins negotiation with the image thief (who may have made a mistake in ignorance rather than with bad intentions). The starting point for the license fee is an industry-standard database of usage fees. By signing up with Pixsy, the user commits not to contact the infringer directly, except to confirm that Pixsy is the authorized representative.

Pixsy’s business model is to take 50% of any fees collected. This is inline, or a little more favorable, compared with the percentage taken by a conventional stock licensing agency.

Pixsy has submitted numerous invoices on my behalf, a few of which have been paid. It is a little too soon for me to get a definite sense of the overall financial success of their approach, but I am highly optimistic.

Most of all, these commercial and professional users should have known better than to steal my images without contacting me, or paying for the usages. My hope is that when it is widely known that “crime doesn’t pay”—because Pixsy will come after them—these image users will decide to do the right thing, and pay for their usage upfront. This could reverse some unpleasant trends in the photography business—the general lowering of licensing fees because of widely available online content perceived as free, just as in the music business.

I’d like to see leverage restored to image creators whose work is in demand, and from this viewpoint Pixsy’s technology and business model is a very positive development.

Posted in Photography, Writing

Framed: Flowers of Spring’s Desire

I printed my Flowers of Spring’s Desires on Moab’s elegant Juniper Baryta Rag for a friend and collector. She framed it in white, with a pink inner mat. Very nice effect.

Framed - Flower of Spring's Desire © Harold Davis

Framed – Flower of Spring’s Desire by Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

White Dahlia

Every time I am away for an extended trip Phyllis seems to embark on a home improvement project. This time, while I was in the Czech Republic and giving my workshop in Heidelberg, she outdid herself with a great reconfiguration of the living room. Outside, she put a small cast iron table on our front porch for breakfast and the like surrounded by pots of flowers. In one of the pots she planted a white dahlia.

Dahlia #2 © Harold Davis

Dahlia #2 © Harold Davis

I photographed one of the nearly perfect white dahlias on my light box using the Zeiss 50mm f/2 macro lens, which is truly one of the best macro lenses in my kit (and I have many macro lenses, my joke is that had I been Imelda Marcos I would have collected macro lenses rather than shoes!).

In the version above, I used an LAB inversion of the L-channel to show the white flower on a black background. The version below is more like how the flower would normally look on a white background in a monochromatic rendition.

Now, the only question is what will Phyllis improve while I am in Maine the first half of August?

Dahlia #1 © Harold Davis

Dahlia #1 © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Monochrome

Bend in the Neckar River

On a great bend in the Neckar River, about 15 kilometers up-river from Heidelberg, Germany lies the town of Neckarsteinach. Four dramatic castles sit atop the crags overlooking the Neckar. Julian, one of my workshop participants, brought me here the day I was flying home, and together we explored the area.

Bend in the Neckar River © Harold Davis

Bend in the Neckar River © Harold Davis

From the top tower in the castle I shot a series of seven hand-held bracketed HDR exposures. Each exposure sequence had eight images. I used Photoshop to merge the seven sequences into a single panorama, which (doing the math) consists of 56 individual images! Since each capture was using a 36MP sensor, quite a bit of information has gone into this pano, and I am looking forward to printing it large.

Bend in the Neckar River in Black and White © Harold Davis

Bend in the Neckar River in Black and White © Harold Davis

Related story: Check out the panorama I photographed overlooking a bend in the Dordogne River in southwest France.

Posted in Germany, Landscape, Photography