Harold Davis Workshops
Photography & Travel Offerings
Craftsy OnlineCheck out Photographing Flowers, an interactive multi-featured Craftsy course by Harold Davis.
- Sea-Girt Villages of Italy Photography Adventure with Harold Davis in October 2015 September 30, 2014
- Stairway to Heaven September 30, 2014
- Making Memorable Travel Photos Webinar September 28, 2014
- Photographing Flowers for Transparency Weekend Workshop with Harold Davis Oct 4-5, 2014 September 28, 2014
- Upcoming events and early registration discounts September 25, 2014
- Dance of the Seven Veils September 24, 2014
- Free Photo Critique with Harold Davis September 24, 2014
- Nachi-san September 22, 2014
- The Creative Portfolio Weekend Workshop September 21, 2014
- Two free Bay Area presentations next week September 19, 2014
- Photographing Flowers for Transparency, Oct 4-5, 2014 September 18, 2014
- Falling September 17, 2014
- New Harold Davis Photography Workshops Added September 15, 2014
- Converting to Black & White Webinar September 14, 2014
- Painterly Peony Panos September 12, 2014
- Sunflower Sunrise September 10, 2014
- Enrich your photography with Photoshop Skills – Saturday Sept 13 September 9, 2014
- Windswept Florals September 8, 2014
- Succulent September 7, 2014
- Creative Photoshop Workshop Saturday September 13 September 6, 2014
- Cockeyed Cathedral September 4, 2014
- Saint-Cirq-Lapopie September 2, 2014
- Window in Bourges September 2, 2014
- Valentre Bridge September 1, 2014
- When two rivers woo August 31, 2014
- Labor Day Harold Davis workshop special offers August 29, 2014
- Wheel of Life August 29, 2014
- Morning on the Lot River August 27, 2014
- Catching the full range of light August 25, 2014
- Last week for the Japan special print offer August 25, 2014
- Books by Harold Davis
- Webinar Recordings
- Workshops & Events
- Scholarship Program
- Art Editions
- Abstractions (14)
- Bemusements (574)
- Book Reviews (4)
- Cuba (28)
- Digital Night (254)
- Flickr (13)
- Flowers (610)
- France (50)
- Germany (13)
- Hardware (32)
- HDR (55)
- Hearts (6)
- High Sierra (26)
- Hiking (28)
- iPhone (41)
- Iris (12)
- Japan (35)
- Katie Rose (126)
- Kids (215)
- Landscape (629)
- Lensbaby (48)
- Models (56)
- Monochrome (201)
- New York (7)
- Paris (52)
- Patterns (85)
- Phoenix Roundtrip (9)
- Photograms (75)
- Photography (2,336)
- Photoshop Techniques (239)
- Point Reyes (92)
- Print of the Month (7)
- Road Trip (22)
- San Francisco Area (276)
- Software Reviews (7)
- Still Life (26)
- The Wave (14)
- Tilden Park (16)
- Water Drops (153)
- Workshops (69)
- Writing (142)
- Yoda (4)
- Yosemite (143)
- Zion (14)
- September 2014 (24)
- August 2014 (19)
- July 2014 (20)
- June 2014 (28)
- May 2014 (17)
- April 2014 (24)
- March 2014 (18)
- February 2014 (11)
- January 2014 (17)
- December 2013 (17)
- November 2013 (25)
- October 2013 (25)
- September 2013 (13)
- August 2013 (16)
- July 2013 (11)
- June 2013 (14)
- May 2013 (18)
- April 2013 (15)
- March 2013 (12)
- February 2013 (13)
- January 2013 (15)
- December 2012 (14)
- November 2012 (13)
- October 2012 (12)
- September 2012 (7)
- August 2012 (11)
- July 2012 (13)
- June 2012 (17)
- May 2012 (10)
- April 2012 (8)
- March 2012 (14)
- February 2012 (6)
- January 2012 (9)
- December 2011 (10)
- November 2011 (13)
- October 2011 (14)
- September 2011 (16)
- August 2011 (11)
- July 2011 (18)
- June 2011 (25)
- May 2011 (21)
- April 2011 (18)
- March 2011 (23)
- February 2011 (21)
- January 2011 (25)
- December 2010 (22)
- November 2010 (23)
- October 2010 (15)
- September 2010 (15)
- August 2010 (17)
- July 2010 (19)
- June 2010 (12)
- May 2010 (20)
- April 2010 (19)
- March 2010 (23)
- February 2010 (24)
- January 2010 (24)
- December 2009 (26)
- November 2009 (23)
- October 2009 (20)
- September 2009 (22)
- August 2009 (18)
- July 2009 (25)
- June 2009 (22)
- May 2009 (25)
- April 2009 (17)
- March 2009 (25)
- February 2009 (24)
- January 2009 (34)
- December 2008 (32)
- November 2008 (32)
- October 2008 (25)
- September 2008 (28)
- August 2008 (28)
- July 2008 (33)
- June 2008 (36)
- May 2008 (34)
- April 2008 (25)
- March 2008 (25)
- February 2008 (30)
- January 2008 (35)
- December 2007 (50)
- November 2007 (32)
- October 2007 (39)
- September 2007 (32)
- August 2007 (22)
- July 2007 (34)
- June 2007 (24)
- May 2007 (42)
- April 2007 (31)
- March 2007 (29)
- February 2007 (29)
- January 2007 (31)
- December 2006 (29)
- November 2006 (31)
- October 2006 (31)
- September 2006 (31)
- August 2006 (27)
- July 2006 (26)
- June 2006 (34)
- May 2006 (20)
- April 2006 (39)
- March 2006 (42)
- February 2006 (29)
- January 2006 (53)
- December 2005 (52)
- November 2005 (73)
- October 2005 (44)
- September 2005 (35)
- August 2005 (26)
- July 2005 (27)
- June 2005 (28)
- May 2005 (28)
Monthly Archives: November 2012
Life conspires to make gratitude difficult. Things go wrong. Deadlines press. People are irritating. Clients demand the impossible and won’t listen to reason. Drivers on the cellphone paying no attention to traffic cut in ahead of one.
In other words, it is easy to get pecked to death by ducks. And behind this day-to-day noise on the line, the possibility of tragedy always lurks.
No one with kids feels immune from incipient tragedy. If you’ve ever had the emergency operator break in on the phone line telling you to meet your child’s ambulance at the hospital, or if you’ve ever been told the chance of your child’s survival is in the “low single digits”—and I have had both these experiences—you’ll never again take normal life for granted.
But a brush with mortality makes life sweeter. And clearing the field of all the “pecking ducks” by watching a sunset, or taking a walk in nature reminds me of how much there is to be thankful for.
I am happy when I remember to be thankful for things large and small: the rush of my kids filling the house with life, a spider web wet with morning dew, and colors in the late afternoon sky. I am grateful that I can be thankful for the gifts I’ve received rather than embittered by the struggle that life is on occasion for all of us.
We recently celebrated Nicky’s eleventh birthday. The fedora hat shown in this photo was one of the birthday presents he had requested. I don’t know where he gets his sense of sartorial style—it is probably not from either of his parents.
Often in life it’s really hard to do things that matter. In The War of Art Steven Pressfield calls the force that makes accomplishment so hard resistance: “Are you are writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what resistance is.”
Resistance takes many guises, and you can read Steven Pressfield’s excellent short book to see many of them defined, and to formulate a game plan for overcoming resistance.
Do you know what? Almost everything about my life and work as an artist and photographer is hard. I know resistance. I fight it every day.
With this image taken in a slot canyon near Page, Arizona, the act of photography was physically difficult. I had to get to the location, wait for the right weather and maneuver my camera and tripod into position to keep the rig steady for a number of exposures. When I finally had time to get to it, processing took many hours of precision work on my computer.
There’s no guarantee that anyone will like—let alone buy—anything I do. My work supports a family of six, so this is a scary thought.
Doing my art may be hard, but it is a great gift to me, difficulties and all.
I like to say that if it were easy, everyone would do it.
True enough. And, in some perverse way, the difficulties of making my art help me keep at it, day after day. I enjoy a challenge. Most of the time I have faith that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
What is it about reflections that draw us in? The initial fascination lies with the mirror world aspect of something reflected. Of course, the reflection is mostly like our world—but it differs. The most obvious difference is that something seen reflected—for example, in a mirror—is reversed.
The less mirror-like the reflecting surface the more distorted the reflection. For example, when water reflects the reflections merge into refraction. Things beneath the surface come into view and join with our reflected world to create an alternative universe. What started with an interest in reversal becomes quickly charged with exotic differences and the admixture of more than one reality.
For a moment, consider some other meanings of “to reflect.” To reflect is to think carefully about something. In psychology, we reflect feelings back to the person originating them. In photography, most subjects reflect light—and the reflected light is the subject of the photo.
No wonder that some images with reflections hold our interest. For many photographers a viable strategy is to get the viewer interested with line, color and composition but bring the viewer deeper using reflection. A reflection is our key to enhancing our understanding by looking at our world a little differently, and to thereby know ourselves better as well.
In a recent excellent and thought provoking online New York Times opinion piece Christine Wampler suggests that “irony is the ethos of our age.” Wampler identifies advertising, politics, fashion and television as categories “of contemporary reality [that] exhibit this will to irony.”
“To live ironically is to hide in public,” Wampler notes. She continues: “How did this happen? It stems in part from the belief…that everything has already been done.” To be ironical stems to some extent from an aversion to risk. If you make it clear preemptively that you are not taking something seriously, then you cannot be burnt too badly if it doesn’t fly. But as Wampler opines, “Will we be satisfied to leave an archive filled with video clips of people doing stupid things? Is an ironic legacy even a legacy at all?”
One cultural area that Wampler does not mention is the art world, a world that I interact with—particularly in relationship to photography. And, yes, for many “high art” photography galleries if it isn’t ironical in a self-referential way (think Cindy Sherman), it isn’t art.
A little bit of satire or irony can be a good thing, but a lot of irony turns genuine feeling to dust. I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Digital technologies have opened an era in which ironic sensibilities can quickly proliferate (as Wampler notes), but these technologies have also given birth to new ways of approaching and creating art. Art that can be approached with the joy of creation, passion and pleasure in the thing itself. Like flowers, waves and surf with its endless ballet on the rocky shore. Down with irony!
There are so many reasons that I love to photograph waves. Waves are wild and free. It is hard to predict what a wave is going to do next. A wave can express calmness and excitation simultaneously. The same wave can be both tranquil and violent. Waves are part of a giant pattern, but apart from that pattern: you never know when an individual wave will break in an unpredictable way.
Waves remind me of our lives. We are part of a great pattern roaring with the tide to a future that is unknown. Although part of the great pattern, like an individual wave each of us has our own pattern. We each respond in a unique way to the perturbations around us.
Day-to-day life can be predictable—with work commitments, school bus stops and all the little things of everyday life—and then wildly unpredictable, changed by exogenous events that might as well be the wind and tide.
Life is an adventure, sometimes gentle and calm, sometimes rushing with a roar of foam to crash against the shore. Whether in peak or trough, waves—and our lives—are always in motion. We can hope to enjoy the ride, but we can’t stop the waves or the passage and adventure of life itself.
I’ve been asked a great deal about my upcoming workshops. So here’s the current rundown in terms of what’s scheduled through mid-2013.
My workshops take considerable amounts of my creative time and attention. So, while I enjoying teaching workshops very much, I try to keep things interesting and full of adventure by avoiding repetition. Therefore, each workshop is a unique event, although there are certainly some locations and themes that bear revisiting. My point is, if you see a workshop that excites you, then carpe diem—register today!
- 2012.12.01—Photographing Flowers for Transparency: Full Day Workshop with Harold Davis—There are only two spaces left in this workshop
- 2012.12.08—Photographing Waves Workshop with Harold Davis (Point Reyes Field Institute). This workshop is full. Please call (415) 663.1200 x 373 to be placed on the waiting list.
- 2013.01.12—HDR (High Dynamic Range) Bootcamp: Full Day Workshop with Harold Davis. Wonder how Harold gets those results, and about the best digital workflow for you? This workshop, by the author of Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography (Amphoto/Random House) will answer these questions and open up worlds of creative potential.
- 2013.01.26—San Francisco Moonrise Adventure: hands-on workshop with Harold Davis
- 2013.03.10—2013.03.15—Photograph Wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert—This workshop is under the sponsorship of Point Reyes Field Institute and is limited to 16 participants. Workshop includes accommodations at the Borrego Sorings Resort & Spa; registration will open on 12.01.2012 by calling (415) 663.1200 x 373 or on the Point Reyes Field Institute website.
- 2013.04.28—2013.05.05—Photograph Paris with Harold Davis: Night, Black & White, and Spring Flowers Workshop (Only a few spaces left; if you are interested please register today because our travel reservation deadlines are quickly approaching!)
- 2013.05.25—Full Moon Workshop: Photograph the Golden Gate Bridge Like You Never Have Before: hands-on adventure with Harold Davis—one space left in this workshop
- 2013.06.07—2013.06.09—Monochromatic HDR Masterclass with Harold Davis in the Big Sur Landscape, Center for Photographic Art, Carmel, CA—workshop dates are subject to confirmation
- 2013.08.2—2013.08.05—Dark of the Moon Night & Bristlecone Photography: workshop hosted at Crooked Creek Research Station near the Patriarch Grove and dates have been confirmed; however, it is not yet open for registration, please contact Point Reyes Field Institute at (415) 663.1200 x 373 for more information.
Harold’s workshops are often sold-out, and fill up quickly. To avoid disappointment, please register early. Feel free to contact Harold Davis if you have any questions about the workshops!
What folks have said about Harold Davis workshops and events:
- “A great artist and speaker!”—W. Anglin
- “Awesome! He patiently addressed questions from the audience which contained photographers of all levels , molding his answers to the level of understanding for each of us. His presentations covered a wonderful range of technical knowledge as well as emphasizing the need for images to have an emotional quality. The images he shares are breathtaking and he is generous in sharing many facets of how he captures such beauty.”—J. Phillips
- “Not all photographers are good verbal communicators. Harold is someone who can DO and TEACH. A rare combination of talents.”—B. Sawyer
- “He was very giving of his talents and time. The course was very organized and thorough. Loved it! Learned so much!”—L. Beck
- “Very creative and a marvelous instructor.”—Kay S.
I’m pleased about some recent publications of my work. Ancient Music of the Stars, shown below, illustrates the month of December in the 2013 Nikon World calendar. Click here for my original story about the image, which was shot in the Patriarch Grove of Ancient Bristlecone Pines in eastern California’s White Mountains.
Peter Kolonia writes, “Harold Davis’ ethereal floral arrangements have a purity and translucence that borders on spiritual” in a December 2012 Popular Photo Magazine article that features my transparent floral technique, Pure Petals: Make flowers look translucent. Click here for a PDF download of the full article.
When it comes to image conception and post-processing these days I seem to be thinking in opposites. In my image of the Triumph of the Wave (below) the breaking surf reforms against the adamant of a rock-bound shore. Wild and peaceful. Violent and tranquil.
There’s something like the Hegelian triad in operation: thesis and antithesis yields synthesis. Nowhere is this more apt than in post-production, where effective practice means repetitive application of opposites: sharpening and blurring, increasing contrast and reducing contrast, saturating and desaturating, and so on.
The key is to be selective. Blurring and sharpening the same pixel makes no sense because you get back where you started. But blurring and sharpening adjacent pixels can be very effective.
Technique should always be in the service of vision. The moving anarchy of the surf is in opposition to the static solidity of the rocks. Synthesis in subject and process can yield an image that is meditative—and a call to action, both calm and exciting.
Wandering on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais, high above Stinson Beach, the Bolinas lagoon, Duxbury Reef, and the open Pacific the seascape below was cloud-covered. As the sun began to set, thermals opened an area offshore and I was reminded of a quote from Thoreau of Walden fame: “Who has not seen in imagination, when looking into the sunset sky…the foundation of all those fables?”
There’s magic in the sunset sky, yet we’re scared to succumb to such a simple infatuation. Beauty can make us grumpy, and put us in mind of postcards. Actor Dustin Hoffman cynically put it this way: “I envy people who can just look at a sunset. I wonder how you can shoot it. There is nothing more grotesque to me.”
Photography can be many things. I’m here to tell you it is okay to shoot sunsets. Personally, I cannot look at one without being moved, and recognizing the foundation of fables as day turns to night.
I was lucky last week to spend a little time photographing at Point Lobos on the coast of California between Carmel and Big Sur. The weather was perfect: raining when I got there but quickly turning to clouds with chiaroscuro lighting effects.
There’s little doubt that acre-for-acre Point Lobos is one of the most beautiful places on this green earth. It’s also steeped in the aura of Edward Weston and the West coast school of landscape photography. But Point Lobos can get a bit crowded, and it is sometimes hard for me to concentrate on making serene art when I am tripping over other photographers. So a fringe benefit of the weather was that I had Point Lobos more or less to myself!
I am very pleased and excited that Cameron + Company has published a 2013 wall calendar of my black & white photography of California. You can see the cover of the calendar and thumbnails of the interior images below. This over-sized wall calendar retails for $14.99. It can be purchased online from Amazon, from local card and bookstores, or by contacting the publisher.