Monthly Archives: December 2010

Reflections from Stoneman Bridge

Reflections from Stoneman Bridge

Reflections from Stoneman Bridge, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I pulled this image from my archives: a semi-abstract of reflections in the Merced River in Yosemite Valley. Yosemite is a great place for reflections, both metaphysical and literal; see Winter Reflections, Tone Poem: Yosemite Afternoon, Yosemite Morning, El Capitan Reflections, Yosemite Dreams, Dawn Reflections, Mirror Lake, and the Yosemite category on my blog.

Harold Davis Print of the Month

For 2011, we’re offering something new. Each month we’ll be presenting a very special archival print at a special price. If you’ve wanted to own an original print of my work, then each month you will have the opportunity to purchase one of my best images. At the same time, you’ll be benefiting a living artist and helping me to continue my work.

I’m not comparing myself with the great masters of photography, but it is worth noting that during the many years that Edward Weston and Ansel Adams were active, you could have bought one of their prints for a few hundred dollars (at most). These prints sell for tens of thousands of dollars at auction today.

Our January Harold Davis Print of the Month is Trees in the Fog (shown above). Trees in the Fog is made by hand and giclee printed with tender, loving care in my studio on 325 gsm Hahnemuhle FineArt Baryta 100% a-Cellulose paper. This popular image has appeared in Creative Night (Wiley) and on the cover of Creative Black & White (Wiley).

My normal, retail price for this archival print is $450.00. For the month of January, 2011, I am offering Trees in the Fog for $195.00. This includes careful, custom packing and insured Fedex ground shipping within the United States. (For orders outside of the United States, please contact me for shipping costs.)

You can read more about the image, the print, and the special offer by following this link.

Narrows

Narrows

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

Trudging up the Virgin Narrows light comes through the openings only briefly—creating a contrast that provides both photographic difficulties and possibilities. Like life itself, we seek a path forward not knowing what we’ll find and hoping our way is illuminated, albeit for brief moments in time.

East Mesa Trail

East Mesa Trail

East Mesa Trail, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

It’s easy to hike the East Mesa Trail up to the rim of Zion Canyon—all it takes is a bit of stamina—and the views are special. If you look closely at this hand-HDR landscape you can see the top of Angel’s Landing far below, as well as some of the switchbacks I followed up to get to the vista shown.

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is an image of our Christmas Tree lights—shot with a long lens (200mm) and thrown way out of focus. There are two versions of the image, stacked and composited—essentially the technique I used with the switch plate.

Best wishes of the holiday season to everyone from this photographer! May peace, joy, and prosperity prevail—and let’s say “enough” to the mean-spirited blue meanies out there.

On (and Off)

On

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

This is the reflective plate for an on/off switch in our dining room, reflecting the lights from our Christmas tree. To make the image, I made three versions, with each shot using my 200mm macro lens on a tripod, at 1.3 seconds at f/5.6 and ISO 200. Each version was focused differently, with the out-of-focus versions yielding the interesting reflected lights.

I combined the differently focused versions in Photoshop, starting with a stacked composite of all three photos.

More about stacking things that aren’t stars: Stacking Waves; Sea Palm Forest.

Eclipse

Eclipse

Eclipse, photo by Harold Davis.

The lunar eclipse last night was something to truly get excited about, but rain and cloud cover have been blanketing the Bay area recently. I tried to consider what vantage point I could get to where the skies would be clear, but nowhere within 500 miles seemed likely.

We set up our Christmas tree yesterday, and the kids were relatively peacable—or at least, they passed out early from utter exhaustion. Before going to bed, the view from the rooftop outside our bedroom window showed the moon sailing in and out of heavy but ragged cloud cover, and I shot the moon (image below). I was hopeful of getting something during the eclipse, and kept my camera ready by my bedside.

When the alarm rang at midnight, to my disappointment the cloud cover seemed pretty complete. As the light dimmed, the world took on an eerie red cast. Then the moon appeared for a few seconds through a gap, and I was able to get a couple of shots—not technically perfect, but enough to give a sense of the awe and majesty of the scene (image above).

Before the Eclipse

Related story: Lunar Eclipse.

Star Circle Workshop in the Alabama Hills

In early November we gathered at the Frontier Best Western in Lone Pine, California—the town is located in the deep valley between the crest of the High Sierra and the Panamint Range. Fortified with too much caffeine and good company we headed out for nights of photography under the stars in the labyrinthian Alabama Hills.

Stars My Destination Stars My Destination, photo by Harold Davis.

We honed our skills in the dark, learned about the constellations, and discussed philosophy and photography. During the day we processed our photos and learned new techniques in the John Wayne conference room at the motel, a makeshift sheet serving as a projection screen. (It worked surprisingly well!)

Lady Boot Arch Lady Boot Arch, photo by Harold Davis.

If all this sounds like fun, it was. The good news: by popular request Steven Christenson and I are doing it again in November, 2011. You can pre-register at a discounted price for the 2011 workshop, check out the Star Circle Academy website, and learn more about night photography techniques on the Star Circle Academy blog.

Alabama Hills Star Trails Alabama Hills Star Trails, photo by Harold Davis.

Also note Harold’s 2011 workshop schedule, what people say about Harold as a photography teacher, and Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques, Harold’s bestselling book about night photography.

Life, photography, and workshops are a journey—not a destination. On this journey we found rainbows and sunrises.

Rainbow
Rainbow, photo by Harold Davis.

Alabama Hills Sunrise Alabama Hills Sunrise, photo by Harold Davis.

And, of course, plenty of star circle photography. If you’ve ever wondered how to make those photos with star circles, please consider signing up for the 2011 workshop!

View North from Gunga Din View North from Gunga Din, photo by Harold Davis.

Alabama Hills at Night Alabama Hills at Night, photo by Harold Davis.

Seeing the Light in Black & White

In the clear light of a November day I strode up the Virgin River in Zion National Park, Utah. The water down the Virgin Narrows ran fast and cold, and my feet—in heavy hiking boots and two sets of wool socks—were wet but not too cold. My main concern was keeping the camera equipment on my back dry considering the wet conditions. One slip on an underwater rock and all the electronics would be toast.

Cliff Light

I struggled up the Narrows, making my way through chambers carved from naked rock, vast cathedrals of nature that suddenly opened, and poetic intimate passages where the river hugged the rock and sunlight filtered down from the plateau far above.

A couple of miles up, the afternoon sun of the shortened autumnal day backlit the tree shown up the cliffside in this photo. In the fast-flowing water of this stretch there was no place to put my tripod down, so I boosted my ISO slightly (to 320) and fired a frame. Then the lighting was gone and the world of the Narrows turned to shadow.

I would have been surprised, but not astonished, had I fast-forwarded a few years to today and seen this image in black and white as I processed it last night. Although it looks good in color too, the essential elements have to do with contrast in lighting between the strong light behind the tree and the very dark sculpture of the cliff wall elsewhere.

You can find more of my thoughts about monochromatic vision and digital conversion techniques in the replay of my webcast Black & White Digital Photography (the video is a bit more than an hour), and in my book Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques.

Exposure data: 56mm, 1/60 of a second at f/5.6 and ISO 320, hand held.

Creating a Photo Book Proposal

My current column on Photo.net is about how to create a photography book proposal. Here’s the description:

Harold Davis knows his material when it comes to the topic of this column, with four photography books published by mainstream publishers in 2009, three books this year (2010), and expecting to publish four books in 2011. This second article in his series on Book Publishing explains the nuts and bolts of creating a photography book proposal.

While any book proposal should cover the business aspect of your project, a photography book proposal needs to add a visual element. After all, photography is essentially applied visual design. From this perspective, any photo book proposal worth its salt should provide some eye candy—and, more importantly, give a visual sense of what your book will be like.

Read part 2 of the series: Creating a Photo Book Proposal.

Spoon No. 2

How is writing a photo book proposal like this spoon? A book proposal should come out and grab an agent or publisher, like my hand in this spoon seems about to do!

Digital Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry!

Tree in the Snow

Tree in the Snow, photo by Harold Davis.

This is a re-processing of a photo I shot about a year ago and originally presented in monochrome. Essentially, Phyllis asked me to layer a little color back into the image.

Provided you keep decent archives, digital means never having to say you’re sorry—to refer to a line from Eric Segal’s classic and sappy Love Story. By which I mean I can keep processing and re-processing my old photos, and use this kind of fun as a great way to procastinate on my current set of projects and deadlines.

Link to the original image and story.

Fifteen Santas on a Trolley

Fifteen Santas on a Trolley by Harold Davis

Fifteen Santas on a Trolley © Harold Davis

How better to say “Merry Christmas” than to ride along with these fifteen Santas, found boarding a trolley this afternoon in Yountville, California?

Taiwan Edition of Creative Night

Creative Night Chinese Complex Edition  by Harold Davis

The Taiwan Complex Chinese Edition of Creative Night was published this week; here’s a great blog story by the translator introducing the book (a Google translation will give you the gist) and a link to the publisher’s website.

Drops of Rain

Drops of Rain

Drops of Rain, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Another water drop photo from the other morning…to get this one I combined shots with several different focus points. Depth-of-field is astoundingly shallow when you get really close, and sometimes you need more than one capture to get a fair degree of focus, even with the lens fully stopped down.

Each exposure with my 200mm macro and 36mm extension tube: 4/5 of a second and f/36 and ISO 100.

This technique is sometimes called “focus stacking,” or as I’ve dubbed it HFR—High Focus Range—photography. You can read my explanation of HFR by following this link.

Serendipity Rules

Crassula argentea

Crassula argentea, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

It rained overnight, and after I dropped the boys off at the school bus stop the weather turned perfect for water drops: calm, still, with bright but diffuse lighting. I photographed this flower on a Jade Plant (Crassula argentea) along the street near our house—it almost looks like it was lit in a studio on black seamless with softboxes. No way. This is impromptu street lighting—sometimes I like to think of it as my water drop studio.

A neighbor saw me, and called out, “I had no idea you relied on serendipity. I thought you used an eye dropper to make your water drops.”

Serendipidty rules. That, and my 200mm macro telephoto lens.