Monthly Archives: May 2013

Beneath the Surface

To make this photo-collage, I shot a number of bracketed exposure sequences of individual shells on a white background. I then auto HDR processed each sequence, converting to monochromatic HDR within the software that I used (in this case, Photomatix).

Bringing each finished monochromatic shell into Photoshop as a separate image, I combined the images using layers, layer masks, and blending modes to create the finished image. Yes, a certain amount of warping, transforming, and distorting was also involved—but no shells were hurt in the process.

Beneath the Surface 2 by Harold Davis

Beneath the Surface 2 © Harold Davis

Exposure data: 100mm macro lens, fifteen bracketed sequences of five exposures each, each sequence shot at f/16 and ISO 200 with exposure times between 1.6 seconds and 1/25 of a second, tripod mounted; exposure sequences processed for monochromatic HDR in Photomatix, and combined to create a collage in Photoshop.

Katie Rose does Cuong Nhu

Here’s Katie Rose in her Tiger Team outfit, ready to take on the world!

Kate Rose does Cuong Nhu

Special offer: 30% discount on pre-orders of my new book “The Way of the Digital Photographer”

This is a special offer on pre-orders of both the print and eBook versions of The Way of the Digital Photographer directly from the publisher, Peachpit. I have arranged this discount as a way to say thanks for your support and reading my blog. To receive the 30% discount from Peachpit, be sure to use the discount code PP-DAVIS30 (this code is case sensitive) after you add my book to your shopping cart when you proceed to check-out. Click here to order The Way of the Digital Photographer now!

Way of the Digital Photographer

Book description: In The Way of the Digital Photographer, master photographer and digital artist Harold Davis shows you how to make digital photography an art form. Great digital photographs need both camera and computer to be truly extraordinary. Using detailed examples and case studies from his own work, Davis provides myriad ideas you can use in your own work, and he shows you how to unlock your own creativity to make those special images you have always dreamed of! Readers discover how to effectively use post-processing techniques and gain insight as to how the techniques and steps involved can inform their choices when making a photo and in post-production workflow.

Pre-order your copy of The Way of the Digital Photographer: Walking the Photoshop post-production path to more creative photography!

Room with a View

In photography, as in life, there are always at least two points of view: that of the camera, and that of the subject. My title for Room with a View may seem sardonic, but actually it was an interesting view—and far better than the view from the first room I had at this luxury Parisian hotel, which was buried at the bottom of a deep courtyard. Kind of reminded me of the view from one of my New York studios facing a dark air shaft, but I digress.

Which room has the view? My view of curves, shapes and lines, and facing a rooftop Parisian apartment window sporting a pair of sneakers stored outside—or the window-with-sneakers facing towards me, with a view of my window (you may have to look hard to see the sneakers in aerated storage, click on the image to view it larger!).

Room with a View by Harold Davis

Room with a View © Harold Davis

Exposure data: 70mm, eight exposures at shutter speeds between 3/10 of a second and 1/160 of a second, each exposure at f/25 and ISO 100, tripod mounted; exposures processed and combined in Photoshop and converted to monochromatic using Silver Efex Pro.

Sweet Treat

I spent my last night in France at Auvers-sur-Oise on the outskirts of Paris. This location was convenient for dropping off my rental car at the airport the next morning, and also where Vincent van Gogh spent his last days, and painted quite a few of his great paintings.

Sweet Treat by Harold Davis

Sweet Treat © Harold Davis

In Auvers-sur-Oise, I stayed at the Hostellerie du Nord—described in the Rick Steves guidebook as “a small, friendly, polished treat for those who want to sleep in luxury” with a “seriously good” restaurant.

All true, but what Rick Steves didn’t convey was the flavor of the place as a rendezvous spot for Parisian couples who wanted a long, languorous and seductive meal before proceeding upstairs to one of the sensuous rooms. Mine was decorated with reproductions of Gauguin paintings of bare-breasted Tahitian beauties.

The atmosphere oozed seductiveness, from the omnipresent statuary of buxom women and Art Nouveau glass to the style of the dinner—formal and extensive, but slow enough and with so much variety that one wouldn’t really get overfull. As I ate I enjoyed playing the voyeur and watching the attractive and prosperous couples around me, and fantasizing about what would happen once the many courses were done. I would have liked to share my strawberry tasting dessert, shown above in an iPhone photo, while lazily thinking about the sweet treat that might follow!

Villandry Gardens

At the opposite end of the garden spectrum from the lush and free-form gardens at Giverny is the regular and geometric garden at Villandry Chateau in the Loire Valley. Inspired by Renaissance gardens, Villandry has water features, a maze, vegetable beds, and topiaries in a variety of shapes, including hearts with pink flowers on the interior.

Villandry by Harold Davis

Villandry © Harold Davis

This geometric fantasy is largely the creation of Dr. Joachim Carvallo, and dates from the early years of the twentieth century. Dr. Carvallo was a Spanish-born doctor and medical researcher who married an American heiress. Together, they restored the Chateau at Villandry, and created what is considered by some the most beautiful garden in the world.

Meditation at Giverny

As long as I can remember I have admired Claude Monet’s waterlilies, so finally getting to visit Monet’s garden at Giverny was like a pilgrimage for me. My group (shown here on the steps of Monet’s house at Giverny) was lucky with the weather—the sky was bright but overcast, with intermittent patches of blue. We were also lucky that the gardens at Giverny were not very crowded on the day we visited, and when our after-hours access (arranged by Mark Brokering) had kicked in we literally had the place to ourselves.

Meditation at Giverny © Harold Davis

Meditation at Giverny © Harold Davis

In Monet’s time, a train track bisected his garden in the horizontal direction, with the water garden on the other side of the tracks from his house and primary flower garden. There still are essentially two distinct areas, connected via an underground passage, but the trains have been replaced with a fairly busy road.

I spent the bulk of my time in the water garden area. Sure, the flower garden was nice, and the tulips were in bloom—but in some ways it was fairly conventional, organized in rows and beds. But there is nothing in the whole world like Monet’s waterlilies.

There’s a sense in which the views and vistas at Giverny evoke a subliminal memory of Monet’s paintings just by the elements that are present, such as the green, arching bridge. I tried to present that almost Proustian feeling of a visual memory at the threshold of recognition in my photos.

My approach and philosophy was to photograph the pieces that I thought I would need, taking my time with my camera on the tripod. The goal in post-production would be to combine the exposures, and to use the arts of digital post-production to create imagery that evoke feelings that might perhaps be worthy of the setting, and the connection with Monet.

With this image, I used the long exposure times combined with elements that were moving in the fairly stiff breeze to add an intentionally impressionistic effect. Combining multiple exposures allowed me to extend the “impressionism” across a broader swath of the image than would have been possible in a single exposure.

Exposure and processing data: 200mm, five exposures (two at 3/5 of a second, one each at 1/4 of a second, 1.3 seconds, and 2.5 seconds), circular Polarizer, +4ND filter, each exposure at f/29 and ISO 200, tripod mounted; processed and combined in Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photoshop, with effects added using LAB color adjustments, Nik Color Efex, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, and PixelBender.

Botanique and Monochromatic Visions

Botanique, my handmade limited edition artist book of botanical prints, continues to sell well. There are still a few copies left in the $1200 pricing tier. Click here for more information about Botanique. Please drop me an email if you are interested in a copy.

Here’s what one collector says about her copy of Botanique: “All I can say is WOW. What a magnificent piece of work this is.  It seems that each time I turn the pages I find something different and unique to look at in each of the flowers. What a masterpiece.  My words cannot do it justice. I am proud to own this exquisite artwork.”

Monochromatic Visions portfolio by Harold Davis

Monochromatic Visions portfolio by Harold Davis

Monochromatic Visions, my limited edition portfolio of twelve spectacular black & white prints, is still in pre-publication. You can order a copy of the entire portfolio via the Monochromatic Visions Kickstarter project for a pledge of $1200. Individual prints from the portfolio are also available, with pledges starting at $200.

Speaking of the Monochromatic Visions Kickstarter, you can challenge me as an artist and help me achieve my artistic goals by helping towards the “stretch goal” of sending me to Japan to create a washi portfolio of prints. Pledge rewards for this stretch goal start as low as $20, and include an original print from the project for $250 or the entire portfolio of 12 washi prints from Japan at $650 (two copies are left at this price). Please visit the Kickstarter project for details, and thank you for your support.

Workshop Opportunities

Please note the following Harold Davis workshop events and opportunities:

  •  This week, I am giving a webinar on Thursday, May 23 about post-production in night photography, specifically about how to handle some of the issues that come up in long exposures to make for more exciting images. Here’s the link for registration and more information.

    Ghosts of Paris © Harold Davis

    Ghosts of Paris © Harold Davis

  • On Sunday, June 2 we are sponsoring a free, unguided shoot in memory of my friend and student Jack Tasoff. Click here for more information about the event.
  • There’s only one spot remaining in the Sunday, June 23 full moon Golden Gate workshop. Click here to register. I don’t expect this spot to stay available for long!
  • My Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop is unique, as I am the inventor of many of the techniques you’ll learn. I give the workshop, which covers all aspects of the process from conception, arrangement and photography through post-production, with plenty of time for you to create your own hands-on imagery. I only plan to give this workshop once a year. In December 2013 it will be hosted in Berkeley, CA, and in 2014 I will give the workshop in Germany. Click here for information and registration for the 2013 Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop.

I have some exciting new events planned for the autumn, and will let you know as these plans materialize.

We’ll Always Have Paris

I’m just back from France, where as you may know I led a photography workshop in Paris. This was a hugely productive workshop, both for me and for the participants. You can see some of the extraordinary photos created by workshop participants in the 2013 Photography with Harold Davis in Paris workshop by clicking here.

Mark Brokering and I are planning to lead another photography workshop in Paris in the spring of 2014. The tentative dates are April 26, 2014 through May 4, 2014. This is one day longer than the 2013 workshop.

Paris, City of Light

City of Light © Harold Davis

We are planning in 2014 to include a visit to Monet’s garden at Giverny, along with exclusive access after hours, as this was one of the highlights in 2013 (I can’t wait to go back to Giverny!). Click here to see 2013 workshop participants on the steps of Monet’s house at Giverny.

We’ll also include many of the highlights and best locations of the 2013 workshop, along with some new destinations, such as the relatively unknown Parc de Sceaux. As in 2013, we’ll be hosted at the historic and extraordinary 4-star left-bank Hotel Lutetia.

Parc de Sceaux by Harold Davis

Parc de Sceaux © Harold Davis

Luxembourg Gardens by Harold Davis

Luxembourg Gardens © Harold Davis

The dates for the 2014 workshop are still tentative, in part because I’d like the workshop to follow the opening for my planned gallery exhibition in Paris. I’m hoping it will work out so that anyone who wants to fly in a few days earlier can also come to my opening.

Participation in the 2014 Photography with Harold Davis in Paris workshop will of course be limited, and priority will be given to 2013 participants who (like me) can’t get enough of Paris!

If you are interested in the 2014 workshop, please drop me a (non-binding) expression of interest, and also feel free to ask me or Mark Brokering any questions you may have about the 2014 workshop.

A full prospectus and itinerary for the 2014 workshop, along with online registration, will be available in the next few weeks…stay tuned!

 

 

Eiffel Tower from Sacre Coeur Dome

Up about three hundred claustrophobic steps in a narrow, winding staircase lies the gallery around the exterior of the dome of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. This place is anything but touristic—perhaps because to get here one has already climbed the famous stairs to Montmartre, then proceeded up to the top of the church. As you can see, there are panoramic views of Paris. Alas, years of visitors have scratched or drawn their initials on the gallery pillars and walls, so the place is far from pristine.

Eiffel Tower from Sacre Coeur Dome

Eiffel Tower from Sacre Coeur Dome © Harold Davis

Exposure data: 24mm, nine exposures at shutter speeds from 1/800 of a second to 2/5 of a second, each exposure at ISO 200 and f/25; tripod mounted; exposures combined using Nik HDR Efex Pro, processed in Photoshop, and converted to monochromatic using Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Chateau de Nazelles

The Chateau de Nazelles is located a few miles from Amboise in the Loire Valley. Built by some of the same craftsmen that constructed Chenonceau Chateau, today it is a wonderful bed and breakfast that I used as a base of operations. This image, in monochromatic HDR, conveys the feeling that being there is like visiting old France—and is more like a line drawing, or lithograph, than a photo. However, color images to come will also show the incredible lushness of the Loire in spring.

Chateau de Nazelles by Harold Davis

Chateau de Nazelles © Harold Davis

Exposure info: Nine exposures, each exposure at f/22 and ISO 100, with shutter speeds ranging from one second to 1/200 of a second; tripod mounted; exposures combined using Nik HDR Efex Pro and processed in Photoshop, with monochromatic conversion using Nik Silver Efex Pro and Photoshop black & white adjustment layers.

Eiffel

Reviled when it was built as a fun house rocket ship and aesthetic monstrosity, it’s amazing how the Tour Eiffel in fact manifests visual grace with decorative flourishes and curls in the ironwork. Seen from a distance with the lights of Paris turned on, the spectacle is a bit amusement park—but up close there’s an almost decorative art nouveau feeling, despite an anachronistic and blatant attempt at modernism.

Eiffel by Harold Davis

Eiffel © Harold Davis

To make this image, I turned my camera up towards the tour. To exaggerate the open and lacy feeling of the structure, I overexposed by about 2 EVs. This made sure that the darker areas of the tower didn’t go entirely black, and allowed the filigree patterns in the less dense areas to emerge.

The final settings at 22mm focal length and ISO 200 were a 1/80 of a second shutter speed and f/4.5.

Katie Rose is Five

Yesterday we celebrated Katie’s fifth birthday with parties at Step One (her preschool) and at home. Katie Rose is a charming, wonderful little girl—and living proof that there are miracles.

Katie Rose is 5 © Harold Davis

Katie Rose is 5 © Harold Davis

How time flies! Five years ago we were caught in that country where the boundaries of life and death come close. How reassuring it would have been to look forward those years to see her now.

Click here to read more about The Story of Katie Rose.

Au Sauvignon

Across the street from the hotel and down the block, Au Sauvignon, a modest brasserie offered simple food and seats to watch the world go by. In the back, these narrow and steep stairs, lined with framed etchings, led to the toilet. This iPhone shot is looking back down towards the main floor and good cheer of the brasserie.

Brasserie Stairs by Harold Davis

Brasserie Stairs © Harold Davis