Hyper-Reality

It is certainly possible to capture a world in a grain of sand, or a water drop. Perhaps less obviously, there is also a chance of rendering the apparently mundane and seeing worlds, clouds, and maybe mountains within it. The technique here is to make the subject over-the-top clear, so the detail in the photograph seems hyper real. I find myself baffled by students who seek help finding subject matter, as the everyday world around us is always full of source material that is grist for the artistic mill.

Hyper Reality © Harold Davis

Hyper Reality © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Flowers at a Restaurant

I photographed these orchids through translucent etched glass at the handsome Murray Circle Restaurant at the Cavallo Point Inn, part of Fort Baker in Sausalito, California. The location is right across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. If you are interested, you can read my review of the restaurant on Trip Advisor (opens in a new window).

Flowers at a Restaurant © Harold Davis

Flowers at a Restaurant © Harold Davis

Photographed using my iPhone camera app, and processed in Waterlogue.

Posted in Flowers, iPhone, Photography

Palace of King Charles V in the Alhambra

The Alhambra in Granada, Spain was first a fortress, and then a fairy-tale palace built as a citadel on a hill by the Moorish rulers of Andalusia. Conquered by Ferdinand and Isabella at about the time Columbus sailed the to the “new” world, the place fell into neglect until it was rediscovered by the romantic movement (and the author Washington Irving) in the early 1800s. Alhambra, California is named after this place, and the genuine Alhambra in Granada is today one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain.

Alhambra © Harold Davis

Alhambra © Harold Davis

The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V was also the King of Spain, and ruled the largest empire in terms of land mass of all times. He ordered an imperial palace to be build within the footprint of the Alhambra.

Palace of Charles V  © Harold Davis

Palace of Charles V © Harold Davis

The exterior of the Palace of Charles V is massive. It is fairly regular and unspectacular on the outside, and seems (unsurprisingly) quite imperial in its aesthetic. What is unusual is the curvilinear nature of the interior courtyard putting the building (as Wikipedia puts it) in the avant-garde of its time. You can see the image of the Palace of Charles V above in a larger size by clicking on it.

Palace of Charles V (color) © Harold Davis

Palace of Charles V (color) © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome

Creative Portfolio Weekend Workshop

We have a few spaces available in the Creative Portfolio Weekend Workshop, Saturday May 9 and Sunday May 10, 2015. Click here for information and registration.

The gist of this workshop is how to you edit work, how do you put it together into a cohesive body, and what are the mechanics of creating an effective presentation—whether it is for marketing the work, or for creating something that is unique and beautiful in-and-of itself.

This is not a printmaking workshop per se, or a workshop limited to a specific printer, or even necessarily to those making their own prints (although of course I do think this is a good idea)—so the term “portfolio” is conceived broadly to cover the both online presence, and work presented as a cohesive, printed portfolio or book. The group will be working on exercises before the workshop—so sign up to get started now!

Each workshop participant will receive a copy of the Creative Workbook that is the companion to my new book from Focal Press, Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer.

Click here for information and registration.

Scoring the portfolio

 

Posted in Workshops

LAB Inversions

I am often asked about my technique for obtaining creative effects using LAB color adjustments in Photoshop. While the theory behind this set of techniques is a bit complicated, there’s nothing complex in practice about using LAB color adjustments creatively. I’ve written about these techniques both in The Photoshop Darkroom and also in The Way of the Digital Photographer.

To make your life easier if you want to experiment with creative LAB, I’ve also written a Photoshop action that you can download for free using this link (check out the included readme file for installation instructions). This action essentially presents the possible LAB channel adjustments as a palette of possibilites for you to choose from when making your creative choices, and I’ve used my own action—Photoshop’s word for a macro—to create the different creative versions of the images shown here.

For example, with the cone flower (Echinacea) shown here, last year I planted it in a pot on the porch, assuming it would essentially be an annual. Somewhat to my surprise, it has come back strongly for a second year in its pot. We water it with recycled water—such as unfinished water bottles started by the kids. The young flowers are translucent and striated, like the day-old blossom shown. As the flowers mature, the petals become opaque, and a mono-colored shade of pink magenta.

Echinacia © Harold Davis

Echinacia © Harold Davis

The miracle of LAB channel inversions and adjustments leads straight to the alternative, colorful versions you see below:

Inversion on white © Harold Davis

Inversion on white © Harold Davis

I plan to print these images as a quadtych, with the four images arranged in a sequence, pairing the original version on white with the Inversion on White, and the two black versions together.

Echinacia Inversion © Harold Davis

Echinacia Inversion © Harold Davis

Inversion in Blue © Harold Davis

Inversion in Blue © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

What do Harold Davis and Georgia O’Keeffe have in common on Pinterest, and how is Pinterest going to make money, anyway?

Actually, I don’t really care how Pinterest plans to make money, although in the light of the rest of this story it is worth noting that Pinterest has a private market value believed to be north of $10 Billion. Yes, that is Billion, as in a ten with nine zeros after it.

In case you’ve been doing your best to ignore social media on the Internet, the idea behind Pinterest is that users create virtual bulletin boards, and then “pin” images that are copied from a variety of sources onto these boards. I haven’t heard any cogent analysis of how this will make money, but I do know that plenty of my images are used this way without my permission…including one photo of a rose that is commonly mistaken for a Georgia O’Keeffe painting

A rose is a rose is a rose, except when it is not. A Harold Davis rose photo is apparently a Georgia O’Keeffe rose painting when you search Google Images for “Georgia O’Keeffe” (opens in a separate window, may be a number of rows down) except when it is actually Kiss from a Rose by Harold Davis (shown below). I’m really pretty flattered by the association, as Georgia O’Keeffe is certainly one of my great artistic heroes.

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

I was alerted to my photo made in homage to O’Keeffe being mistaken for a literal O’Keefe by a reader who wrote, “Hi Harold! Love your Rose Photography. I see on Google your work is confused with Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings!” While this case of mistaken artistic identity mostly involves Kiss from a Rose, some of my other images such as Eye of the Rose and even the book cover for my Photographing Flowers also occasionally show up categorized as O’Keeffe’s.

The conflation of Harold Davis photos with Georgia O’Keeffe paintings get even more pronounced on Pinterest, where a number of “boards” have “pinned” my image as a Georgia O’Keeffe’s. (See www.pinterest.com/terper1234/georgia-o-keeffe/ (my rose is called “a lush red O’Keeffe”), www.pinterest.com/nicolenotch/artist-o-keefe/ (once again my rose is ascribed to O’Keeffe) as examples, although this Pinterest Fakes and Mistakes board notes correctly that “NOT GEORGIA O’KEEFFE >>> this is a photo by Harold Davis”).

I am in fact of two minds about this issue. On the one hand, obviously it is good publicity for me that people like my work enough to pin it on their Pinterest boards. And, as I noted, I am certainly flattered to be compared with O’Keeffe.

On the other hand, it is hard enough to make money as a living artist these days when one is up against the common Internet dogma that information “wants to be free.” Ascribing to this theory across the board leads to a rush to the bottom. As a hint folks: ultimately this means no more quality visual art, literature, or music.

The TOS on Pinterest claims that each user (e.g., someone who creates a board) is responsible for obtaining permission to use work, but of course people just ignore this, and go ahead and scrape imagery off the sites where I post. I doubt anyone at Pinterest really believes that users are going to get permission, and posting this TOS is just el poo-poo del toro to try to ward off copyright lawsuits. Which someone should really do, and take Pinterest to the cleaners for the intellectual property scamsters they are.  Or, Pinterest could prove they care about artistic creation by setting up a financial pool to reward artists whose work is used on their site.

What do you think about this? I know that many of my readers are Pinterest users. Am I out to lunch on this one?

Posted in Writing

Digital paintings that use photographs as the medium

Harold Davis’ talent as a painter is evident in this beautifully rendered photograph of the Jamaa-el-Fnaa marketplace in Marakesh, Morocco.  © Harold Davis

Eileen Fritsch, a writer who often covers the visual arts, profiled me recently in relationship to digital printmaking. In her profile, Eileen notes that I regard my work as “digital paintings that use photographs as the medium.” She continues: “With his unique style, Davis is at the forefront of an emerging art movement in which creative photographers can do far more than capture an elusive moment in time. Thanks to Photoshop (which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary), photographic artists such as Harold Davis can now create images that depict almost any type of scene or subject they can envision in their mind’s eye.”

You can read the extensive full article on the Moab Paper blog.

In this multiple exposure image, Harold Davis envisions image “Hekatonkheires” the three mythical Greek gods of violent storms and hurricanes. The artisanal pigment print takes full advantage of the qualities of Moab Slickrock Metallic Pearl 360 paper. Photo: © Harold Davis

Pages for the Kumano Kodo portfolio are printed on the roll and hand trimmed, scored, signed, and bound. Photo: © Harold Davis

Posted in Writing

Antoni Gaudi and the shell game

Antoni Gaudi, the architect of the fabulous Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Catalonia, liked to use organic shapes of nature in his designs. Hence the pillars in the Sagrada Familia cathedral bear a striking resemblance to trees, and the interior of the spires in the church bear the stamp of Gaudi’s life-long fascination with embodying nature in architecture since these spiral stairs resemble the interiors of spiral shells.

Inside the Sagrada Familia Spire © Harold Davis

Inside the Sagrada Familia Spire © Harold Davis

You’ll see what I mean if you check out the interior and exterior views of this spiral shell of the Architectonica genus, shown below, and compare with the Sagrada Familia spiral.

Architectonica Spiral (inward) © Harold Davis

Architectonica Spiral (inward) © Harold Davis

Check out the macro photo shot straight up and through the Architectonica, and compare with the view inside the Sagrada Familia spire at the bottom of this story:

Architectonica Spiral (outward) © Harold Davis

Architectonica Spiral (outward) © Harold Davis

If you are curious, here’s the way the Architectonica shell spiral looks from the outside:

Architectonica Spiral © Harold Davis

Architectonica Spiral © Harold Davis

Incidentally, the views inside the Sagrada Familia spire shown at the top of this story and below were shot hand-held at ISO 51,200. You can read the related blog story to see why this was my best technical choice in the circumstances, and the only way to get a photo in the location—and an approach that would not have been feasible even a few short years ago.

Inside the Sagrada Familia Spire (looking up) © Harold Davis

Inside the Sagrada Familia Spire (looking up) © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

We are not afraid of color

I photographed these flowers on my light box using the bright and sharp Zeiss Otus 85mm lens, then created a number of variations in Photoshop. The colors in flowers give me a palette to experiment with saturation and contrast, and I herewith proclaim: Bring it on! I love color!

We are not afraid of color © Harold Davis

We are not afraid of color © Harold Davis

Patterns in the Zeitgeist © Harold Davis

Patterns in the Zeitgeist © Harold Davis

Flowers are the jungle © Harold Davis

Flowers are the jungle © Harold Davis

Beyond the blue light  © Harold Davis

Beyond the blue light © Harold Davis

Solarized Flowers © Harold Davis

Solarized Flowers © Harold Davis

If you are interested in my flower photography techniques both in the camera and in post-production, there are still a few spots left in my Creative Flower Photography workshop at Maine Media in Rockport, Maine this coming August (2015). This is a five-day workshop that will cover light box photography, creative field flower photography, and Photoshop techniques.

Related story: An Amazing Amalgamation of Anemones.

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Photoshop Techniques, Workshops

Waterlogue and Harold Davis iPhoneography

The best camera to use is the one you have with you, and I pretty much always have my iPhone camera with me. My iPhone is not only a camera, it is also a digital darkroom. Please click here to check out my new virtual gallery of iPhoneography by Harold Davis.

So, carpenters know to get the right tool for the job. If I need a high resolution original to make big prints I am likely to use a 36MP full-frame DSLR with one of my superb Zeiss lenses.

But for quick, impressionistic water-color-like images, such as the ones shown here, my iPhone and the Waterlogue app are just the ticket! Waterlogue is certainly not the only iPhone processing app I use, but it is my go-to software when I am looking for a soft, dreamy water color look.

I shot this image at Monet’s Garden, Giverny, about an hour outside of Paris. I used my iPhone camera app. I used my bracket to place the iPhone on my tripod, and the ear bud as a shutter release. On the bus ride back to Paris, I processed the image on my phone using the nifty Waterlogue app.

Giverny © Harold Davis

Giverny © Harold Davis

Today the city of Cahors in the southwest of France is a slightly gritty provincial capital—but back in the middle ages it was fabulously wealthy. Protected on three sides by the river Lot, Cahors was nevertheless sacked, abandoned and rebuilt. But glory was never regained entirely (the Black Death didn’t help matters). You can see the remnants in the palaces and monuments of the old quarter, where today they have a wonderful fresh food market. I got my lunch today in this market. You really can’t beat a fresh loaf of bread, a tranche of locally made pate, strawberries and a tomato!

Pont Valentre Waterlogue © Harold Davis

Pont Valentre Waterlogue © Harold Davis

Cahors may have fallen to brute force and treachery during the hundred years war during the convoluted battles between French and English monarchs, but the Pont Valentre, shown above and below via iPhone capture, was rightly regarded as impregnable.

Over the years, I have photographed the beached and slowly decaying Point Reyes trawler, located near Inverness, California, by starlight and by daylight in the afternoon. This photo was by iPhone, made while my boys clambered over the wrecked vessel.

Point Reyes Boat © Harold Davis

Point Reyes Boat © Harold Davis

Photographed on my iPhone, and processed on my phone on the spot with the nifty Waterlogue app. Here’s another one:

Point Reyes Boat 2 © Harold Davis

Point Reyes Boat 2 © Harold Davis

The Royal Air Maroc plane to Lisbon was late to leave, as expected. Still, it was a relief to leave the chaos of Casablanca as we said goodbye to Morocco. Surely an adventure with many images to process, and much to digest. I captured this image on my iPhone, and processed it with Waterlogue.

Leaving Morocco © Harold Davis

Leaving Morocco © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone

San Francisco Dreams in Black and White

San Francisco dreams in black and white. Please come visit my new virtual gallery of San Francisco in Black and White!

Noir City Dreams  © Harold Davis

Noir City Dreams © Harold Davis

What goes on behind the shades in the lit window of an anonymous apartment in the big city? Meanwhile, the moon rises over the proverbial skyline.

San Francisco Moonrise © Harold Davis

San Francisco Moonrise © Harold Davis

And the sun sets on a day of low tides behind the Golden Gate…

Sunset at Minus Tide © Harold Davis

Sunset at Minus Tide © Harold Davis

Posted in Digital Night, Monochrome, San Francisco Area

Tulips in a Glass Vase

To make this image, I placed the vase of tulips on a mirror, and lit the vase and flowers from behind with a standing light box. This is the same setup and technique I used in the images shown in HDR is technique, not style. You can see the setup and get an idea about the processing from the spread on pages 128-131 of Creating HDR Photos.

Tulips in a Glass Vase © Harold Davis

Tulips in a Glass Vase © Harold Davis

I also experimented with a simulated, virtual solarization of the image, converted to black & white, shown below.

Tulips in a Glass Vase - Solarized © Harold Davis

Tulips in a Glass Vase – Solarized © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Letter about my photo trip to Italy in the autumn

Dear fellow photographers:

My name is Harold Davis, and I am an artist, photographer, writer, and teacher. If you are not familiar with my photography books, please check out my page on Amazon.

I am offering a unique opportunity to join me and a very small group photographing Italy this autumn (the dates are October 28 – November 11, 2015). If you are tired of being part of the photographic herd, then this is the trip for you! The group size is strictly limited to six participants.

Harold Davis-2015 Italy TourWe will be photographing in Cinque Terre, Naples, the island of Capri, and in Positano and the Amalfi coast. Accommodations, transportation, and many meals are included. I will be working with a top-flight local Italian licensed tour guide with an art history background to make sure that we have the best experience possible. The cost is $6,495 per person. Please see www.digitalfieldguide.com/learning/workshops-events/italy for full details.

As a workshop leader, my goal is to is to facilitate a community of photographers, have fun photographing in interesting and exciting places, share some technical information, and—most importantly—encourage each participant’s unique and individual creative expression. As one of my workshop participants has put it, “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, and his workshops show the depth of his connecting with others in a very real and personal way.”

Please join me in Italy this autumn. I look forward to working with you one-on-one in exciting locations to realize your photography dreams and goals.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Arms

Arms © Harold Davis

Arms © Harold Davis

Four in-camera exposures, with the model stationary besides her arms. Related stories: Pagan Goddess, Multiple Exposures.

Posted in Models, Photography

Shadows

In this image, I used my iPhone to photograph and process the shadows of a Venetian blind projected by the late afternoon sun onto the linen curtains in my office. Note the shadow of the rectangular pole (used to open and close the slats) in the lower right, and the regular pattern of darker shadow at the apex of the curve made by the positioning of the curtains.

Shadows © Harold Davis

Shadows © Harold Davis

While it is great to travel with my camera, I believe—and I like to teach—that it is perfectly possible to be creative wherever you are, and that sometimes home is best.

Posted in iPhone, Photography