Monthly Archives: April 2010

Passion in a Drop

Passion in a Drop

Passion in a Drop, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Small rain drops caught in a spider web suspended over flower buds were among my subjects on an exciting day of intermittent sunshine, clouds and heavy rain.

The Passiflora (shown above) is seen in its entirety within tiny drops, while the outline of the whole colorful flower is shown out-of-focus as a backdrop. The Gazania (below) in only partially seen in the background—the bud is minature but entire within the water drop.

Gazania Reflections

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Kellie

Kellie in Monochrome

Kellie in Monochrome, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Kellie is a model with an obviously attractive physique. She’s also a thoughtful young woman who is an omnivorous reader. Jane Austen is her favorite author.

Astute readers of this blog will note some changes in physiognomy from the color version (below) to the monochromatic version (above).

I liked the lighting on Kellie, and the “figure eight” composition made by the integration of her arms with her body. But a close inspection of her face (check out the large size below) shows the left pupil in her eye apparently towards the lower end of her eye socket in an unattractive way. In addition, her right nostril shows only as an odd-looking dot.

I addressed these issues in the Photoshop darkroom by moving the pupil of her eye slightly up, and painting in a bit more nostril where it “ought to have been” in the first place.

Kellie

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Rainy Day Ranunculus

Rainy Day Ranunculus

Rainy Day Ranunculus, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: Photographed in my garden in an intermission in the rain, this is the same plant I used as a model in this studio Ranunculus shot.

Take your pick: au naturel versus handsome artifice. Personally, I like my flowers both ways. Thank you very much.

Snow in the Forest

Snow in the Forest

Snow in the Forest, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: On a recent trip to Yosemite, snow was falling at the foot of the John Muir Trail heading up towards Vernal Falls. A short way up the trail, the snow ebbed and the sun started emerging—letting me snap this image of snow in the forest in mixed light.

Iris

Iris

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

I photographed this Iris in my garden straight down using a telephoto macro len during a lull in the violent but brief rains we’ve been having over the last couple of weeks.

The wind and weather bent and contorted the flower petals; when the bright sun emerged—and I made this photo—there were water drops on the underside of some transparent petals. These water drops display as their negative, a shadow surrounded by a bright ring of light. The most noticeable of these is about one third of the way up the photo, and a little to the right.

Red Tail Hawk

Red Tail Hawk

Red Tail Hawk, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

One advantage to spending the night out at the end of Point Reyes is being there first thing in the morning. I got up by the light of early dawn and wandered the bluffs near the Chimney Rock Trail. This hawk was there to greet me, and let me get within about twenty feet—all the while perched with a view out over the ocean to the west.

Nautilus Shell and Rope

Nautilus Shell and Rope

Nautilus Shell and Rope, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Like the previous still life I posted, I made this composition during my recent still life and macros workshop. I asked everyone to bring some artifacts to photograph, and I brought a box of goodies that Phyllis helped me carefully pack.

This Nautilus is one of my favorite things to photograph and play with in the Photoshop darkroom; here the golden afternoon light though a dirty, antique window pane provided luminous illumination against a pile of old nautical rope in the historic boathouse.

Workshop Gods

Boathouse Still Life

Boathouse Still Life, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

The Workshop Gods were with me last weekend. The weather was stunning, never to be taken for granted on the tip of Point Reyes, and the spring wild flowers were lucious. The participants were strong photographers, and a socially compatible group—neither of which is a workshop given.

This workshop covered both improvised still life photography, like the grass in a vase shown against the background of the old Coastguard boathouse. The photo above is an example of simple still life photography using natural light and based on observation and placement, with beautiful afternoon sun coming through an antique window angled into a dusty room.

In terms of the outdoor macro flower photography—it was hard to miss with the carpets of flowers in a majestic landscape of rugged cliffs and ocean.

Point Reyes Spring

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Bonnie with Umbrella

Bonnie with Umbrella

Bonnie with Umbrella, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: Bonnie looks pretty on a white background with a decorative umbrella. Slightly overexposed for a high-key effect.

I’m off today to teach a weekend macro and close-ups workshop at the tip of Point Reyes. There’s no connectivity there, so I’ll suffer slight withdrawal symptoms—and no blog posts until next week. Until then, dear reader, be good or be good at it!

Leucospermum in Glass Vase

Leucospermum in Glass Vase

Leucospermum in Glass Vase, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I cut these Leucospermum from our garden. The photograph was taken in a cut glass vase against a black velvet background. I used controlled natural light in our upstairs bedroom directed to only illuminate the flowers and vase.

Visit my Leucospermum set on Flickr.

Morning Grass

Morning Grass

Morning Grass, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: Shot early in the morning following a rainstorm on my belly in the grass. Camera on tripod, 200mm macro, shallow focus because of wide open aperture, pointed at the rising sun coming through the water drops.

Exposure data: 200mm f/4 macro, 1/640 of a second at f/5.0 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.

No Take-Backs

Sheer White

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

Based on the responses I’ve got, my story in Nearly Naked Women struck a chord. People were truly worried, which is touching. For example, K.K. wrote, “Although you don’t owe most of us any explanation, I thank you for giving us one. [You’ve shown] many photos of your family, so even though I don’t really know you, I feel like I do, and the naked ladies were a little disconcerting and worrisome…but also absolutely gorgeous.”

Rest assured, my family is doing well—and will always come first for me.

Approaching a photo like the one shown above may take some detachment (as noted in the previous story) so I can consider issues of composition, exposure, lighting, and so on. It also takes some passion, as does any good photography, no matter what the subject. Then again, eating a good meal or enjoying a movie or novel also takes passion.

Another issue revealed in my previous story is the extent to which my blog represents a day-by-day account of the issues that come up in my life and my photography in something like real time. I noted that my blog “goes back to 2005, includes thousands of almost daily entries, and documents life’s tribulations, photographic techniques, and much more.”

A number of people wrote to say that they had no idea about the quantity of imagery and stories in my archive. The blog format—and the Internet itself—makes it easy to focus on the latest and greatest, and to ignore the past. By the way, the easiest way to start browsing my archives is to use the month-by-month links on my blog’s home page masthead—although you can also search for topics, or simply hit the Older Entries back arrow thousands of times. (I’m not responsible for any repetitive stress injuries that follow the back arrow method.)

I want to point out that I don’t go back and revise older entries. Sure, I’ll correct typos when they are pointed out. But as a matter of principle, I decided not to edit the past. This “no take-backs” policy means that you get my photography (and my life) as I saw it at the time, not as it looks in retrospect.

As I look back my blog is sometimes embarassing, and there are some photos that I posted five years ago that I wouldn’t publish today. But the stories are always authentic, many photos are interesting, and it is a weird by-product of the Internet that I get to have a digital time capsule and archive available for all time (or at least so long as I pay the web hosting fees).

Nearly Naked Women

Glyph

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

A good friend living across the country who we don’t see very often wrote me: “I am so not used to you doing risque photos of women that I find it a bit disconcerting.” The questions behind the comment, of course: Is everything all right with you and Phyllis? Are you having some kind of mid-life crisis?

Nothing of the sort—but if our friend wondered, I realize, so might others. After all, images of nearly naked women are a pretty far cry from my more usual fare of landscapes, night photography, flowers, and Photoshop “impossible” imagery.

I wrote the friend (in part): “No worries, it is all professional. I’m under contract to do a couple of projects that involve photographing people, and I’ve found models one of the easiest ways to get practice.”

Of course, I don’t deny that photographing naked women is fun. Phyllis is fine with my efforts in this direction, and observes that in fact this shows the strength of our marriage.

I’ve found that all the different kinds of photography have their own distinct challenges. Until you’ve tried flower photomacrography, for example, you won’t appreciate the challenges. So figure photography has some unique isssues.

Among these is the taxonomy of the exchange between photographer and model. All good models enjoy being exhibitionists; and all good photographers are voyeurs. Whether or not money changes hands, all good professional models and photographers are excited by creative image making.

I often find myself approaching the composition of a female nude with some of the same clinical detachment that I might use in composing a landscape. However, part of the point of a nude—or nearly nude—is to convey the lineaments of desire, even if these lineaments are presented in the coolly classical manner of Edward Weston’s figure studies. Who noted, by the way, that it didn’t matter if it was a shell, an artichoke, or a woman.

I think Weston may not have known his own feelings that well, which is why he tended to sleep with his models (after all, you don’t usually go to bed with an artichoke). I try to take my feelings of attraction, sensuality, and desire—and bring them as a positive force into my life, my work, my relationship, and my relationship with my work.

Speaking of Weston, whom I admire enormously, I’ve noted previously that his famous Daybooks are essentially a blog in hard copy format. Turning this on its head, it is fair to say that my blog is my virtual “Daybook.” It goes back to 2005, includes thousands of almost daily entries, and documents life’s tribulations, photographic techniques, and much more. Many people who I don’t know read my blog. When I do meet them it is clear they know a great deal about me and my family. Therefore, it’s only fair that I explain the nearly naked women. They are about photography.

Using LAB Color Adjustments

Fireworks (Papaver)

Fireworks (Papaver), photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger. Read the original story featuring this image.

My column Using LAB Color Adjustments (in my Creativity in the Photoshop Darkroom series) has been published on Photo.net. Here’s a brief description of the article:

And you thought you had mastered everything there is to know in Photoshop. Harold Davis reveals yet again another complex topic in Photoshop and breaks it down into simple easy-to-learn steps. This new Photoshop Tutorial will revisit the conceptual underpinnings of LAB in Photoshop that were explained in an earlier tutorial. You’ll learn how to do simple color swaps, LAB color adjustments paired with channel blending modes for an infinite palette of spectacular color variations, and how to do inversions and equalizations using LAB color.

Link to Using LAB Color Adjustments, and to my Photoshop Credo.

Enjoy!

Birth of a Frond

Unfurling

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

Delicately unfurling, this young fiddlehead fern frond promises birth. Its curl is a precursor to motion, the potential energy of a young living thing.

I photographed this macro using a light box as the background, then inverted the L Channel for a black background. Monochrome seemed appropriate, almost like a Karl Blossfeldt botannical study.