Monthly Archives: December 2008

For You

For You

For You, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

For you, my last rose of 2008! Happy New Year!

Rose

Self Portrait with Rose

Self Portrait with Rose, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I offer this rose in the hope that the new year is prosperous and happy for us all, and on behalf of our new beginning, Katie Rose.

Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

On the spur of the moment Julian and I decided to head out on an adventure. The weather was spotty, but I thought it might be clear towards Point Reyes. All was well until we passed Inverness. As we cleared the saddle and headed towards the Pt Reyes peninsula itself we met a white wall of fog. We took a side trip up Mt Vision and watched the sea of fog while munching plantain chips.

Clearly there was no photographic future under the dense and cold fog cover. We ambled south, spending some time at the Inverness trawler, and ending up on Bolinas Beach for sunset.

Julian held my backpack out of the surf as I exposed reflections of the sunset in tide water. Eager, and with a strong back, he clearly has the makings of an excellent photo assistant.

Related images: Patterns of Design; Wave Tangent; Scalloped.

[Nikon D300, 18-200VR zoom lens at 35mm (52.5mm in 35mm terms), circular Polarizer, 3 seconds at f/29 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Catching Up with Katie Rose

Arrgh!

Arrgh!, photo by Harold Davis.

It’s been fun having Katie Rose over the holidays. Each of the boys thinks she’s his personal play thing, kind of like a stuffed animal that moves and makes noises. Katie herself gets comfort from her mom, and likes to fall asleep touching Phyllis’s face.

Faces

Grandma Barbara loves to hold Katie Rose, and Katie looks back up at her with clear eyes, full of love.

Grandma and Katie Rose

Speaking of eyes, those baby blues! Katie’s gaze is full of mirth, light, and beauty (and I’m not prejudiced a bit <g>).

Katie Has Blue Eyes

Flowernalia

Flowernalia

Flowernalia, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

In ancient times the Romans celebrated the return of the sun with Saturnalia. There was all manner of feasting and revelry, with slaves taking the roles of their masters for a night.

Past the solstice, as the days become incrementally longer and it becomes clear the world won’t sink into the edge of night, perhaps flowers party too. I already know that flowers dream. Let’s call their festival flowernalia.

Delphinium

Delphinium

Delphinium, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

It’s a miracle of floral abundancy that delphinium (also called larkspur) grow in my sheltered southwestern bed towards the end of December.

The general JPEG view of this image of the delphinium (above) doesn’t give you the idea of the level of detail and delicacy captured. You’d see this detail in a print. I’m showing an enlarged crop from the top of the flower; not quite as good as a physical print but it beats virtual nothing.

Detail, Delphinium

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Morse Code

Morse Code

Morse Code, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Turning my back on the Golden Gate Bridge, I photographed out the Golden Gate, past Kirby Cove, towards the open ocean. The star trails in this image form a short-long, the letter A in Morse code. You can see this better looking at the image larger.

I made two captures, the first at five minutes, and the second at eight minutes. The shorter star trails go with the shorter exposure, and the longer trails with the longer exposure. Stacking star trails is usually done with many exposures created using an interval timer, but I stacked with only two to see what would happen. I used the Maximum mode in Photoshop’s Statistics script to get the effect.

And they say the stars don’t speak.

Golden Gate Mon Amour

Golden Gate Mon Amour

Golden Gate Mon Amour, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Though I have photographed the Golden Gate Bridge at least 100 times, I’m always amazed at her grace and beauty, and the way she catches the light.

Golden Gate Study
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Trawling for Sunset

Trawling for Sunset

Trawling for Sunset, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Like the map in C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, this is one of those images that the more you look, the more you see. It takes close attention–and the larger size—to see the trawler heading for the squall of rain, the Farallons, and sunset.

Taken earlier in the sunset than Point Bonita.

Point Bonita

Point Bonita

Point Bonita, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

The day after winter solstice, Bay area weather was crisp and clear, but with incoming rain clouds. I photographed Point Bonita and its lighthouse from Hawk Hill. In the other direction, I could see the Golden Gate and downtown San Francisco.

In this photo, looking west, you can see the lights of the fishing fleet and a single light on the Farallon Islands (check out the larger version).

I intentionally extended the exposure to five minutes by using a small aperture. The point was to create the star effect on the rotating lighthouse beacon. This also visually stretched out the rain clouds as they moved in front of the camera exposure.

[Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR zoom lens at 35mm (about 52.5mm in 35mm terms), 301 seconds at f/29 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Domes

It’s a good observation that a difference between professional and very serious amateur photographers on the one hand, and snapshooters on the other, is that those in the pro group are always trying to create thematic links between their photos. This kind of grouping can imply a narrative, or revolve around a common technique, or involve the subject of the images.

Dome

I often don’t see the connections I’m making until after the fact. I spend time looking through my images making these connections, trying to group my photos into stories or themes (Flickr is a great tool for this). By identifying my interests, I’m better able to target subject matter I want (and need) to photograph.

Atrium

In this way, I’ve come to understand that I enjoy capturing the interiors of domes. By dome, I mean a large, public space, preferably—but not always—capped with a round top. I get down on the floor with my camera on a tripod, and use a very wide angle lens (most often my 10.5mm digital fisheye). A wide-angle dome capture both shows the full extent and pattern of the dome, and also flattens the curvature involved in a very interesting way.

So far, my interior dome captures have been limited to the San Francisco area. But who knows? The world is full of great domes!

From top to bottom:

Wright Stuff

Marin Center Dome

Wright Stairs

Cathedral of Light

Jesuit Baroque

Dome of St Ignatius Church

Glass Ceiling

Cathedral of Light

The Cathedral of Christ the Light was built over the past three years to replace an earthquake-damaged structure. Designed by the famous modernist architectiure firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, it is center of the East Bay diocese, serving some half million Catholic souls. Below the ground, a mausoleum mirrors the footprint of the building with thousands of crypts, niches for cremated remains, and special crypts for all the past Catholic Bishops of Oakland.

Cathedral of Light

Cathedral of Light Interior, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

The current, living holder of the Bishopric of Oakland describes the experience of visiting the Cathedral of Light, as it often seems to be called for short, in these words: “To enter the cathedral is to experience the world as God intended it at creation and as he restored it through redemption.” (I get this quote from an acid assessment of the new Oakland Cathedral in Catholic Minority Report, a Catholic blog with the motto “We laugh because we believe.” The story called for suggestions from readers of better names for the church, and the responses include names like “Our Lady of the Upside down Bundt Cake” and “Cathedral of Light Under a Bushel Basket”.)

Visiting the Cathedral of Light in downtown Oakland on the shore of Lake Merrit is definitely a weird experience. Downtown Oakland itself seems to be filled with office structures and condominiums that are three quarters finished but look never to be completed, with hand drawn signs directing passers by to soup kitchens attached to the construction scaffolding.

The church itself is well patrolled by security guards and seems to attract quite a few tourists (but maybe not so many worshippers, at least on a recent Saturday). It’s a very peculiar building. Actually, two buildings: an outer steel and glass tower, resembling nothing so much as a stylized nuclear power plant, and an inner framework of wood comprising an almost completely standalone basket structure within the structure.

The religious iconography is hard to miss: a crown of thorns on top of the exterior (see photo below) and inside baskets, fishes, and Christ (as you can see in the fisheye view of the interior ceiling, above).

This is architecture as public spectacle, and it seemed popular with the people I talked to when I visited. It’s also very vulgar (even leaving aside the strange hundred foot high rear-projection Christ). Architecture that tries to persuade by overwhelming in this way is the architecture of fascism. It’s ironic and suggestive that the phrase Cathedral of Light was used by the Nazis to describe the main visual features of the Nuremberg rallies.

Cathedral of Light

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Related stories: The Jesuit parish church of St. Ignatius is in the old ostentatious, pre-modern style of Catholic architecture; this fisheye shot of a dome at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Marin Center is comparable in viewpoint to the dome above, but shows how distinctive the design of public spaces can be.

Furled for Winter

Furled for Winter

Furled for Winter, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Like the winter thistle, I found this frost-covered fern frond on a chill early morning in Tilden Park.

Winter Thistle

Winter Thistle

Winter Thistle, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

The morning dawned cold (for around here).

I grabbed the kids and ran up to Tilden Park. Nicky and Julian played with frost and skim ice, a rare treat for them, and I photographed frost covered thistles. The sun came up, and I rushed them to school a bit late, all of us flushed from the outdoors and happy.

Inner Flower

Neon

Neon, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

In May of this year in troubled times I turned to the colors of flowers. This duo is from a set that I captured in high key and for transparency during a tough time.

I went back and looked at my RAW take and processed these images of Gazania in the last couple of days. Post-processing took a great deal longer than the original capture; with holidays coming on and the end of the year fast approaching my life sometimes seems to be a constant interruption.

To capture a flower, to release the soul of the inner flower, is meditation and a path to calm and light.

Surface
Surface, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.