Monthly Archives: January 2010

Mare Island Night Photo Shoot

Mare Island Night Photo Shoot

Mare Island Night Photo Shoot, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This light painting extravaganza took place during my night photography shoot on Mare Island sponsored by Renegade. The big impact of relatively small lights at night has to be seen to be believed. This was great fun, and a great group of shooters.

More Mare Island.



Dream, photo by Harold Davis. ew this image larger.

This is another infrared shot of the model Christianna. I used a camera retrofitted for sensitivity only in the IR spectrum.

Christianna looks pretty different in my previous shot—it’s amazing how good models can take on so many different guises in front of the camera.

Cuban Portrait

Cuban Portrait No. 1

Cuban Portrait No. 1, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I photographed this man on the streets of Cienfeugos, a small city that is one of the provincial capitals of Cuba. He was playing guitar in an impromptu street concert. There’s a great deal of wonderful music in Cuba, possibly because there aren’t so many other forms of entertainment and distraction. The simple pleasures do not get lost in a wash of cell phones, texting and high definition television because most people do not have access to these things.

His face, I think, shows that this man has seen it all. Despite what he has witnessed, he stays serene and happy, and has a kind outlook on life.



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

This is the beautiful model Christianna, photographed in infrared with my old Nikon D70 (I had the camera retrofitted so it only shoots IR).

White Tulips

White Tulips

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

Shot with a Lensbaby Composer and the standard glass optic, using the f/4 aperture ring. I love my Lensbaby, a great spur to creativity when I’m feeling like trying something different. Check out my Lensbaby set on Flickr.

Winter Reflections

Winter Reflections

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

I converted this image of winter reflections in Yosemite Valley to black and white using one of the simplest conversion techniques from a RAW original. The Grayscale Mix on the HSL/Grayscale tab of Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) does it all in only a few clicks, and provides a fair amount of control over the conversion. You can get good results this way quite quickly.

Texture of Bristlecone Pines

Bristlecone Pines

Bristlecone Pines, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is a shot of the textures of an ancient bristlecone pine. You can read more about these fantastic trees, the oldest of all living things, elsewhere on my blog. Also check out Day of Reckoning, another shot from the same session as this textured photo.

I converted the RAW photo to black and white in Photoshop using a layer stack of Black & White adjustment layers from bottom to top:

  • Bottom layer: default b&w adjustment
  • An adjustment layer using the High Contrast Blue filter preset, combined with a left-to-right gradient, applied to the left side, using partial opacity
  • A second adjustment layer using the High Contrast Blue filter preset, applied to selected spots using the Brush Tool
  • An adjustment layer using the Infrared Preset, applied to a few selected spots

You can learn more about my black and white conversion process in Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Technques.

Stone Wave

Stone Wave

Stone Wave, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

The Wave is a marvelous rock formation on the Utah-Arizona border. You can read about some of my adventures visiting The Wave in this story written a few years back, and see some of my other photos of the place. Lost in the Desert continues the story of what happened after I photographed The Wave.

Most of my photos of The Wave are in color—but this is a good subject for black and white as well. In this photo, the monochrome helps to mask the scale of the place: you don’t know at a glance whether it is big or small. Answer: very, very big.

Camellia Blossoms

Camellia sasangua 'Kanjiro'

Camellia sasangua ‘Kanjiro’, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

In the gray weather of mid-January it can be hard to find flowers to photograph outdoors in the San Francisco Bay area. Camellias are the oustanding exception, which begin to bloom this month.

As Diana Wells notes, the camellia is “utterly beautiful, but far from perfect.” There’s a sensuous irregularity in even the most lush camellia that intrigues—but makes them surprisingly difficult to photograph well.

Red Camellia

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

Exposure data:

  • Top: 200mm f/4 macro, 24mm extension tube, 2.5 seconds at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted
  • Above: 50mm macro, 13 seconds at f/32 and ISO 100, tripod mounted
  • Below: 200mm f/4 macro, 3 seconds at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted

Camellia 'Gualala Glow'

Camellia ‘Gualala Glow’, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

New Harold Davis Photo.Net Column

Kiss from a Rose

Kiss from a Rose, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger. Read the original story featuring this image.

My new column, Creating HDR Images by Hand [Part II], is up on

This is the third column in my Creativity in the Photoshop Darkroom series. Previous columns:  Intro | Multi-RAW Processing | Creating HDR Images by Hand [Part I].

You might also be interested in my sequence of seven columns for, Becoming a More Creative Photographer.

Misty Mountains

Mountain Mist

Mountain Mist, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I photographed this scene of mist in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during a winter trip to Yosemite Valley a few years back. The image always intrigued me when I looked at the RAW file in Adobe Bridge, but I never could see it as a color photo.

But black and white is another story! I did the conversion to black and white in the process of creating a demonstration for my upcoming new book in my Creative series, Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips and Techniques.

Photo Book Publishing Workshop

Proofing in Bed

Proofing in Bed, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger. Read the original story featuring this image.

Okay, so Phyllis and I know something about creating, designing, writing, producing, packaging—and, yes, photographing—photography books. In my upcoming afternoon photography workshop on February 6, you don’t get Phyllis. But you do get me. And I’ll share the good, the bad, and the ugly: book proposals that have worked, and book projects that have flopped miserably. And explain why. And help you with your special project.

All this is a bargain at $95 in my opinion. Unless you have other plans for the weekend, like the Superbowl. In which case I can only surrender to unfair competition.

Here’s the official description:

This afternoon workshop is designed for those interested in creating and publishing books using their photographs, as well as those interested in online publication via photoblogging. Topics to be covered include the conventional publication process, finding an agent, marketing a book, existing and potential markets for photography books, photography book ideas that work, publication on demand, preparing photos for publication, and creating book designs. Special attention will be paid to editing a body of your work to create a successful photography book presentation. We’ll also take a look at online alternatives, and cover both the economics and technology of photoblogging.

Harold Davis is an award-winning professional photographer and author of more than thirty books, including Creative Composition: Digital Photography Techniques (Wiley), Creative Night: Digital Darkroom Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Close-ups: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Post-Processing (Focal Press) and Practical Artistry: Light & Exposure for Digital Photographers (O’Reilly). Harold writes the popular Photoblog 2.0 ( and is a regular photography columnist for

PDF Flyer for the publishing workshop
Registration: online at, or call 1.415.663.1200 X373

Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

On a bright, blustery winter day I wandered the Marin Headlands with photographer and friend Steven C. It’s amazing how close this beautiful area is to downtown San Francisco. This shot is looking towards the opening to Tennessee Beach from the ocean side (you can’t see the beach itself).

This was a day of extraordinarily heavy surf, and I spent most of my time photographing the explosive action of the waves—as close to the action as I felt safe. But I couldn’t resist an overall shot of the spectacular landscape, captured in full, living RAW color, multi-RAW processed to extend the dynamic range, then converted to black and white using a layer stack of Photoshop adjustment layers, primarily the Red Filter preset and the Infrared preset (for the sky).

In other words, the photo is a sort of non-HDR HDR created by hand—meaning that the tonal and dynamic ranges are greater than you would normally get from a single capture, rendered in black & white, and without the garish look so common in HDR photography.

Katie Rose Playing with Bubbles

Katie Rose with Bubbles 5

Katie Rose with Bubbles 5, photo by Harold Davis.

Photographing a toddler playing with soap bubbles is like trying to catch two moving targets at once: the child and the bubbles. My best advice is to crank the ISO so you can use a reasonably fast shutter speed, watch your focus point, and be quick on the trigger. If you pause or even hesitate briefly it’s gone.

Katie Rose with Bubbles 3 Katie Rose with Bubbles 4

It’s great to see Katie so joyful, and playing as the normal kid she is, considering that not so long ago when Katie Rose was born she weighed as much as six sticks of butter.

Katie Rose with Bubbles 2

Explosive Wave

Explosive Wave

Explosive Wave, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

An explosive wave in bright sunshine, captured using a high shutter speed, shows something we cannot see with our naked eyes because the action goes by too fast. Have a look at this photo in a larger size to check out what I mean.

So in what sense is a photo a literal capture of reality? My preference one way or the other is for photos that show us things we cannot see by ourselves. Manipulated imagery, close macros, and long exposures at night can all reveal magical and secret worlds—as in this case does a 1/1250 of a second shutter speed, with a look that more resembles an oil painting than a conventional photo.

Exposure data: 85mm, 1/1250 of a second at f/10 and ISO 200, hand held.