Monthly Archives: February 2012

Craft of Black & White in the Digital Era

Monochromatic photography looks back to the glorious aesthetics of the classical era of film photography. At the same time, the world has moved on and revolutionary advances in technology have made black & white photography and printmaking more powerful and relevant than ever.

Join two of the leading contemporary masters of digital black & white photography, Harold Davis and Vincent Versace, for an absolutely unique hands-on workshop in Berkeley, California on Saturday, March 10, 2012 covering the entire black & white workflow from shooting through processing and creating museum-quality prints.

Don’t miss this opportunity. Reserve your space while there is still room. Click here for more information and registration.

Nautilus in Black & White

Nautilus in Black & White © Harold Davis

Full Day Workshop with Vincent Versace & Harold Davis

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn from two of the masters of contemporary monochromatic photography. Vincent Versace is the author of From Oz to Kansas: Almost Every Black & White Technique Known to Man and Harold Davis is the author of Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (in addition to other bestselling books from both master photographers). Click here for more information and registration.

Topics covered in this workshop will include:

  • The monochromatic vision: learning to see the world in black & white
  • The craft of digital black & white
  • Digital black & white workflow
  • Monochromatic conversion in Lightroom
  • Nik Silver Efex 2
  • Working in Photoshop to perfect your black & white images
  • Monochromatic HDR
  • Tips & techniques from both Harold Davis and Vincent Versace
  • Making fine black & white prints
  • Making fine black & white prints with Perfect Resize 7 by onOne Software

In addition, there will be time for individual portfolio reviews (plan to bring no more than six black & white prints or six images in JPEG format on a USB drive).

Workshop fee includes a finger-licking BBQ lunch from Everett & Jones. Vegetarian dishes and salads will also be served.

Choosing the Path by Harold Davis

Choosing the Path © Harold Davis

Who is this workshop for?

If you are interested in black & white photography and would like to take your work to the next level this is a rare opportunity to perfect your technique and be inspired by two legendary photographers and teachers! This workshop is primarily intended for serious amateurs and professionals who already have some experience with digital black & white photography.

Where: MIG Meeting Place, 800 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710
When: Saturday March 10, 2012, 9:30AM
Tuition: The cost of the workshop is $395 including BBQ lunch. Workshop limited to 25 participants.
What to bring: Your camera, tripod (if you have one), six black & white images (prints or JPEGs), a laptop loaded with Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex if you want to follow along with the presentations (free trial versions of software are available for download).

Registration: Click here for more information and registration.

About Vincent Versace

Vincent Versace is a recipient of the Computerworld Smithsonian Award in Media Arts and Entertainment, the Shellenberg fine art award, a four-time nominee to the Photoshop Hall of Fame, and is the author of the best selling book Welcome to Oz, the first edition of which was chosen as Shutterbug magazine’s best how to book of the year. Versace is a member of the Epson Stylus Pros, a Nikon Legend Behind the Lens, an Xrite Colorotti, Lexar Elite Photographer, and an American Photo Magazine Mentor Trek and Master Class instructor.

About Harold Davis

Harold Davis is an award-winning professional photographer and widely recognized as one of the leading contemporary photographers. He is the author of more than 30 books, including Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis (Focal Press), The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations (Focal Press), and The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Post-Processing(Focal Press).

Harold is the author of the Creative Photography series from Wiley Publishing.

“Harold Davis’s Creative Photography series is a great way to start a photography library”—Daniel Fealko, PhotoFidelity.

The Creative titles include: Creative Landscapes: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Lighting: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Portraits: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Close-Ups: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley). He’s also written a book on the fundamentals of exposure, Light & Exposure for Digital Photographers (O’Reilly Media).

Click here for more information and registration.

Flowering Quince on My “Bucket List”

Most photographers have bucket lists of things they’d like to photograph before they die. Flowering quince—because of the lushness of the blossoms contrasted with the sparseness of the stems–has long been on my bucket list of things I want to photograph before I “slip this mortal coil.”

I know that as “Bucket List” items go flowering quince isn’t all that dramatic—I have some dramatic bucket list items as well—but modest pleasures are important too.

What’s on your “bucket list”? Feel free to add a comment telling me what you’d like most to photograph!

Flowering Quince by Harold Davis

Flowering Quince 1 © Harold Davis

You don’t see much flowering quince growing wild around here, and I’ve been loth to buy an expensive specimen from a florist. So I was pleased to find some intertwined with a chain link fence near Rosa Parks, the elementary school that Nicky and Mathew go to.

Someone must have planted the Quince a long time ago, but I don’t think anyone was really tending the Quince shrub. Nevertheless, in the interests of poetry and drama I treated snipping some stems as a matter of nighttime drive-by pruning, with the engine running and the minivan’s tailgate open.

From there, it was a matter of arrangement and backlit studio photography on my lightbox.

Flowering Quince by Harold Davis

Flowering Quince 2 © Harold Davis

Checkout my work in the February 2012 New Releases (PDF) and January 2012 New Releases (PDF) fliers, both from World Art Group.

 

Workbenches

We’ve been making large prints with our new Epson 9900 printer. So far we are just getting to know what it can do, and are experimenting with unusual paper surfaces such as rice paper and paper with a metallic basis. We’ve seen color gamut that our prints haven’t touched before, but that’s a story for another time!

Planes by Harold Davis

Planes © Harold Davis

This monochrome HDR (High Dynamic Range) image of a reconstructed antique workshop at Fort Ross on the California coast north of San Francisco makes a great print. We pair it with Workbench, and print both large on pearlized metallic paper. These are really thrilling prints to watch coming out of the printer!

Workbench by Harold Davis

Workbench © Harold Davis

Crashing Waves

Many things crash. Property that is overvalued. Waves on a storm-tossed sea. Computers that have outlasted their normal lifespan.

 

Storm-Tossed Sea by Harold Davis

Storm-Tossed Sea © Harold Davis

 

Thus it was that my old Windows computer died in the middle of writing an email to a friend. I had been nursing it along on its last legs for longer than I care to say.

From this death there was no recovery. Suffice it to say I am writing this on a new computer, having put in many hours getting my systems up and running again. How unproductive! I would rather have spent my time doing something creative.

This fiasco made my weekend stormy, but it could have been worse—all my image editing and photography-related work takes place on another (and, dare I say it, better designed) system running OS-X.

I was able to take out some of my computer-driven frustrations by doodling the Turneresque seascape you see above (click to view a larger version) which shows another kind of crashing—that of waves on a stormy sea.

To create this image I made abundant use of the lovely Florabella textures library.

Floral Arrangements

I’ve had a little time lately to shoot more flowers on white. These two floral arrangements feature orchids—buying them for photography seemed a little expensive at the time, but in retrospect well worth it! (Click on the images to view them larger.)

Floral Arrangement by Harold Davis

Floral Arrangement © Harold Davis

One of the key words in this kind of photography is “arrangement” because creating a pleasing composition is probably more important than any photographic technique in contributing to the success of a given image. So I often get asked if I have any tips regarding floral arrangements.

Mostly, I just do what looks good to me. I do think this kind of image needs an internal structure, as well as coherence. The image also has to appeal to suspension of disbelief in the sense that it is plausible enough to seem like it could have occurred in nature or at least hang together in a vase, even when in fact it is an artificial creation in my studio. The point of my artifice is to create something that looks natural.

Certainly if you look through my Photographing Flowers book you’ll get some ideas about how I like to arrange flowers. If the topic of arranging flowers interests you I also suggest a course or book on Japanese flower arranging. One that is on my shelf is Simple Flowers: Arrangements and Floral Accents for the Home by Noriko Hayakawa (Kodansha, 2000). This book is out of print, but pretty easily still available from used book sources.

Floral Arrangement 2 by Harold Davis

Floral Arrangement 2 © Harold Davis

As I’ve noted, the most important step in this kind of image creation is the floral arrangement. Next, I bracket the photography and use HDR and hand-HDR technique to combines the separate exposures. When the image is finished on white in many cases I add a texture, or use Photoshop to place the white image on a scanned background to create a Floral Tapestry—for example, Japanese Papaver Dreams.

Related links: Flowers on White on Flickr; Floral Tapestries on Flickr; my Floral Tapestry Gallery of images.

Our new Epson 9900 printer arrives

When our new Epson 9900 printer arrived we had to shut the street for the delivery truck. The printer weighes 275 pounds, and it took three strong movers to get it from the curb into our dining room.

Epson 9900 being delivered

Or probably I should say “the room formerly known as dining”—because it is now home to the Epson 9900 printer.

We’ve been printing on an Epson 4800 for about five years. The Epson 4800 seemed big enough when we first got it, but the maximum size print we could make using it was 17X22 inches.

With the Epson 9900 we can print on 44″ rolls of paper. This means that it will be easy for us to make 24X36″ prints, or even 40X60″ prints. For some images that are wider than they are long we’ll now be able to print in mural sizes: for example my Floral Tapestry Panoramas could go up to ten feet wide!

I’ve been getting requests for larger prints lately, so it is great that we will be able to make them.

The Ultrachome HDR inks for the Epson 9900 are new and improved, with a greater dynamic range than the older inks. In addition, two colors have been added—green and orange—so the Epson 9900 is a ten color printer in an arrangement that reminds me of the extensive gamut of  Hexachrome offset printing, which features added orange and green inks.

Anyhow, the Epson 9900 behemoth has taken over our dining room, as you can see in this shot (click on the image to view it larger):

Epson 9900 printer in our dining room © Harold Davis

Epson 9900 printer in our dining room © Harold Davis

Before we can run the first print we’ll need to drill some holes, get a network drop in place, and bring grounded current to the printer. After that, the nozzles need to be charged, which takes most of the ink shipped with the printer.

My guess is that we’ll be pulling the first prints towards the end of the coming week. It’s very exciting, and I can’t wait!