Monthly Archives: March 2009

Make-Like-A-Fish Mathew

Make-Like-A-Fish Mathew

Make-Like-A-Fish Mathew, photo by Harold Davis.

This photo of Mathew concludes a round of photos of my four kids; besides Mathew, in no particular order, Nicky, Katie Rose, and Julian.

To get this photo, I did what I advise in my Photographing Kids, Family, and (other) Weird Things webcast. I got down on Mathew’s level and asked him to show me what a fish looked like. I was ready for him when he pursed his lips, and I snapped the photo with the focus point on his right eye.

Julian at Mirror Lake

Julian at Mirror Lake

Julian at Mirror Lake, photo by Harold Davis.

Julian was in his element at Mirror Lake in Yosemite, trying to see if he could crack the ice on the lake.

Little Madonna

Little Madonna

Little Madonna, photo by Harold Davis.

When Katie Rose gets sleepy, she gets very quiet and very still, as in this photo.

Last week, Katie Rose had a nasty virus with a high fever. She kept her mom up literally for two entire nights. But she’s feeling better now.

Katie Rose clearly loves the idea of food. She reaches for any food item remotely near her. But she doesn’t have the physical skills she needs yet to swallow or hold onto anything long. Obviously, this is a child who gets the idea, and she lets you know her frustration in no uncertain terms. Appearances can be deceptive: Katie Rose is often the opposite of quiet. It’s amazing that such a small package can make such loud noises.

Watch out world, Katie Rose is coming!

Snaggle-Tooth Nicky

Snaggle-Tooth Nicky

Snaggle-Tooth Nicky, photo by Harold Davis.

Nicky is very proud of losing his front baby teeth. The snaggle tooth shown in this photo came out a few minutes after I took it. He’s so excited! He can’t wait to get to school and show his friends.

Flower Assignment Results

Calla Lily

Calla Lily, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Early in 2009 Hannah Thiem interviewed me for At the conclusion of the interview, I posed a challenge for members: “Photograph a flower in a unique way—in a way that nobody’s seen before. Take a month to dive in to photographing a flower in an unusual creative way.”

The results are in, and they are a stunning and diverse group of photos. Congratulations to the winners, and to everyone who submitted work to what has become a fine gallery of unusual flower photos.

Here are my comments about the photos submitted for this “assignment”:

I was very pleased and delighted by the quality of submissions to this assignment. There were so many good choices that selection was difficult. I’ve selected S.J. Luke’s “Coming Up for Air” for its imaginative originality (no, I’ve never seen a flower like that before!), Christa Binder’s “Untitled” for its clarity of color and form, and the overall winner, Martha Weintraub’s “Flower Dancer” for its grace, poetry, originality, and power of execution.

Some more notes: this was an assignment, so while many of the photos submitted from files are brilliant and remarkable images, they don’t meet the terms of the assignment, and were not considered in the final selection. It’s important as photographers to be able to follow the dictates of an assignment even when conditions seem adverse (e.g., flower photography in winter). Art directors I’ve worked with have told me that the ability to follow directions is very important to them.

Some honorable mentions: In the assignment photos, I particularly liked (in no particular order): Tracy Hanby’s “Tulips”, Mark Onat’s “Cactus Flower”, and Linda Veit’s “Wild Daisy”.

If there were a humor category, two images would surely have won. They are Jacobin Pigeon’s very funny ‘brella blossom” and Nandita Subbarao’s “Ant on Flower—fossil effect” (the latter is a great use of Photoshop filters).

Among the stock images submitted to the assignment, I think Thomas Marino’s “Lotus Seeds”, Bill d’s “Dazzling Dandelion”, and Marek Pleszczynski’s “Frosted” are particularly wonderful.

Thanks to everyone who submitted photos to this assignment. There’s a great deal of originality, beauty, and playfulness in the photos, and much to be learned by looking through the submissions.

Purple Flower Scan

Purple Flower Scan

Purple Flower Scan, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is another flatbed scan, this time of a very small purple flower.

Related image: Purple Flower Dance.



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

Structure (above) is pretty much a straight inversion of the L (Luminosity) channel using the LAB color space of the Dandelion shot (below).


View this image larger.

Ruffles Have Ridges

Ruffles Have Ridges

Ruffles Have Ridges, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I “discovered” (or perhaps “realized” would be the better verb) that there’s no reason I can’t combine flatbed scans at different exposures using hand HDR techniques. This Iris is from three flatbed scans.

No magnificent piece of equipment, the flatbed scanner is an older Epson 1660. Even so, it delivers wonderfully high resolution by camera standards (although of course there is no lens). Add to this the fact the software that comes with the scanner provides an RGB tone curve adjustment, a histogram that you can shove to the right or left, and a levels adjustment, and there’s plenty to play with.

To facilitate the capture, we constructed a black box, open on one side. I placed the Iris, fresh from the garden, face down on the scanner, and placed the black box over the Iris. I still had to mask out the background in Photoshop to fill it with true black, and (as always with scans) there was quite a bit of dust spotting.

The fun thing: this is really a digital era arts & crafts project, and pretty easy to do for anyone.

Capture: three combined RGB Epson 1660 flatbed scans at 1:1 and 3200 dpi.

Related story: Iris Scans; Revelation and Hiding; Nautilus on Black.


Between Earth and Sky

I’ve given my Digital Night website a face lift. The upgrade includes a fancy slide show, links to my free night photography technique webinars, and some of the night imagery I’ve created recently. (It’s been more than a year since I added imagery to the site.)

Please visit, and let me know what you think!

Starry Night

Blue Nocturne

Blue Velvet Sunset

I’m pleased that two of my images, Blue Velvet Sunset (above) and Winter Sea (below), were chosen for Blue Nocturne, the online exhibit of night photography marking the twentieth anniversary of The Nocturnes.

Winter Sea

Webcast Replay

My webinar Photographing Kids, Family, and (other) Weird Things is now available for replay. I think you’ll enjoy this one. Here are a couple of the comments from people who participated in the live webcast:

  • “Completely amazing photography, wonderful stories and information!”
  • “Fabulous. I liked Harold’s modesty in presentation, combined with tremendous mastery of his subject.”
  • “Davis brings a refreshing new light on how to photo simple subjects.”

My family does star in this presentation, so I can only hope that when they see it they will be as kind!

Replay link on YouTube

White Camellia

White Camellia

White Camellia, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

When I saw this white camellia blossom with its complex and transparent shapes, I knew that I needed to photograph it.

But an image that is mostly black and white but is rendered in color needs to be lit carefully. I used several small LED lights to backlight the flower, along with some more subdued general lighting from either side.

Even so, the center of the flower was too dark (because it was not as transparent as the petals), and I had to build up the luminous feeling in Photoshop.

Related image: White Hellebore.

[Nikon D300, Zeiss 100mm f/2.5 Macro lens, ISO 100 and f/22, tripod mounted: two exposures, one at 1.3 seconds, the other at 0.5 seconds.]

Carp Diem


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

At the Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden I photographed the Koi (which are of the Carp genus) with the idea of having some Photoshop fun.

My thought with the collage you see below was to recreate a symmetrical surface division sketch by M.C.Escher. This proved to be harder to execute than I expected, even considering that I had Photoshop’s rotation and reflection tools at my disposal (and I didn’t have to draw each individual element). The pattern I ended up with is interesting, but it doesn’t have the effect I had previsualized.

Carp Diem

View this image larger.

Related story: Calling Alice.

Three Camellia Blossoms in a Bowl

Three Camellia Blossoms in a Bowl

Three Camellia Blossoms in a Bowl, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: The camellias in the rain were so beautiful that I couldn’t resist photographing these blossoms in a simple bowl.

Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden

Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden

Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Julian and I fled the over-crowded California Academy of Sciences and headed over to the Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, where we had tea, wandered in circles, and I spent some happy moments photographing.

Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden

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