Monthly Archives: April 2014

Giverny via iPhone

I shot this image of Monet’s water gardens at Giverny with my iPhone camera, and processed it into three versions on the spot. Instant gratification is sweet! But I’m also looking forward to seeing what my images with the D800 look like. They may take a bit of time to process. It’s fair to say that my entire group had a great time at Giverny, it is truly a highlight!

Giverny via iPhone 1 © Harold Davis

Giverny via iPhone #1 © Harold Davis

One nice thing about processing on the iPhone is that it very easy to see what difference a slight shift in colors makes.

Giverny via iPhone 2 © Harold Davis

Giverny via iPhone #2 © Harold Davis

Fun I think to take a subject that is so very colorful, and render it in black and white. I am looking forward to printing all three together.

Giverny via iPhone 3 © Harold Davis

Giverny via iPhone #3 © Harold Davis

Spirals at the Hotel D’Orsay

If you know me, you know that I am nuts about photographing spiral staircases. The Hotel D’Orsay in Paris has two, one with an elevator running up the middle, and the main stairs, which has five flights in a narrow spiral formation.

Stairs at the Hotel D'Orsay © Harold Davis

Stairs at the Hotel D’Orsay © Harold Davis

This kind of staircase tends to be harder to photograph than meets the eye. First, they are rarely well lit. This means a long exposure if you are stopping the lens down to get enough depth-of-field for most of the spiral to be in focus. The problem with a long exposure is that this kind of old staircase is usually they are rickety and transmit vibrations. If anyone comes up or down the stairs, they are likely to spoil your exposure just by walking past.

Spiral Stair at the D'Orsay via iPhone © Harold Davis

Spiral Stair at the D’Orsay via iPhone © Harold Davis

Another issue is holding the camera steadily above the stair for a straight shot down. You need a good tripod and steady nerve, but you can usually brace the tripod against the railing to make this possible. To make life easier and avoid all the trouble, simply shoot the spiral staircase with your iPhone!

Spoonerismo

Who says you can’t play with your food? Or at least your fork and spoon…

Spoonerismo © Harold Davis

Spoonerismo © Harold Davis

A well-polished breakfast service at the hotel makes for iPhone fun when playing with my place setting!

Double Rainbow over Paris

In the afternoon the rain started to come down hard, with a lush, almost tropical sound as it fell hard on the rooftops of Paris. I went upstairs because I had left my window open. I stuck my head out the window before I shut it. Around the corner was a hint of a rainbow.

Double Rainbow over Paris © Harold Davis

Double Rainbow over Paris © Harold Davis

I grabbed my camera, dashed downstairs in my t-shirt and jeans, took an umbrella from the bin next to the front desk, and ran the two blocks to the Seine River. A double rainbow was forming, upstream in the direction of the Louvre and the Musee D’Orsay. Precariously balancing my camera and using the umbrella to shelter it from the wind and rain I snapped a few photos.

Sometimes you get lucky.

Rain in Rodin’s Garden

One of my favorite places in Paris is the garden behind the Rodin Museum, where I went this morning. Of course, a Rodin garden would not be complete without Rodin’s sculpture. It was fun photographing the famous sculptures in the rain, which added to the textures and feeling of the place. The face of “The Thinker” is shown here, overexposed and processed for high-key.

Thinker © Harold Davis

Thinker © Harold Davis

Pont Royal

Spring in Paris means that sometimes it rains, which can make it all the more romantic. I took advantage of the moody light today to photograph along the Seine River. From time to time rain squalls hit, and my camera and I went for cover under one of the bridges. I used a long exposure (two minutes) to flatten the moving water and give and old-fashioned appeal to this shot of the Pont Royal.

Pont Royal © Harold Davis

Pont Royal © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D800, 35mm Zeiss lens, circular polarizer, +4 ND filter, 120 seconds at f/13 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.

Recipe for a Refraction

Message in a Bottle © Harold Davis

Message in a Bottle © Harold Davis

Ingredients:

  • 1 DSLR (Nikon D800 or equivalent)
  • 1 Moderate telephoto lens (135mm f/2 Zeiss or equivalent)
  • 1 Extension tube (12mm)
  • 1 Tripod
  • 1 Remote release
  • 1 White bed sheet
  •  2 Vases partially filled with water
  • 1 White daisy
  • 1 Pedestal approximately 3″ X 12″ X 6″ (an old-style phone book will do)
  • Strong sunlight from the side

Directions:

Drape the white bed sheet so it forms a seamless background on a table. Put the daisy in one of the vases. Place the vases one behind the other, with the daisy in the rear vase. Place the pedestal under the sheet to raise the front vase.

Mount the camera on the tripod, and attach the remote release to the tripod. Attach the extension tube to the camera and the moderate telephoto lens to the extension tube. Using manual exposure, with the ISO set to 100, stop the lens all the way down (to f/16 or f/22).

Wait for the light to beam directly on the rear vase. Set the shutter speed to complete the exposure equation in relation to the incoming light in terms of the shutter speed. Hold the depth-of-field preview button down and wiggle the camera into position to best focus on the refraction of the daisy in the front vase. Expose the image with the remote release. Convert to monochrome.

Hint: It is all in the seeing.

Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar with Harold Davis

Are you intrigued by transparent flower photos? Ever wanted to know how to make them? Well, here’s your chance!

With photography on a light box, once you photograph a bracketed high-key exposure sequence, then the the next step is to assemble a layer stack. As you build your layer stack, successively darker layers are masked and painted in to create the illusion of transparency. The results surprise and delight!

Digital artist and master photographer Harold Davis states, “My transparent botanical art has been greatly acclaimed and emulated. Flowers can create the most beautiful compositions. Photographers who are interested in photographing flowers should give this technique a try. Certainly, one of the most sensitive parts of the process is painting in the high-key layer stack.”

Learn this exciting technique from its creator!  This webinar will be full of examples and have ample time for Q & A. Register for Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar with Harold Davis today (details below).

Special Tulips © Harold Davis

Special Tulips © Harold Davis

The Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar with Harold Davis covers:

  • Photographing a bracketed high-key sequence on a light box
  • Workflow considerations and options
  • Multi-RAW processing layers as needed
  • Creating the layer stack in Photoshop
  • Adding a layer mask
  • Using the Brush Tool
  • Using the Gradient Tool
  • Next steps after the layer stack has been created

When:   The live webinar session will take place on Saturday, May 31, 2014, starting at 3PM PT. The webinar is scheduled for one hour, with additional time for Q&A. The session will be recorded, and you can review the recording at your convenience.

Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Photoshop.

Where:   At your computer, anywhere.

Cost:  The registration fee for the live webinar is $29.95. This includes access to the recording of the webinar session. The cost for access to the webinar recording alone (this will be available after the session) is $19.95.

Registration: Registration for the Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis is limited to 20 participants. Click here to register for the webinar. Seats are very limited, so register now to avoid disappointment.

Anemones 1 © Harold Davis

Anemones 1 © Harold Davis

Related webinars:

Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis Webinar

Have you ever wanted to turn your photos into fine art design pieces? With a little bit of Photoshop know-how, a few inexpensive tools, and the techniques explained in this webinar, it’s easy to create unique art imagery, guided by your vision and creativity.

Placing a photo on a background creates an image that looks like a botanical illustration. Adding a texture to a photo is can be used for an impressionistic and/or painterly effect.

Digital artist and master photographer Harold Davis states, “The two primary techniques that I use to turn straightforward photos into art are to add a photo to a background, and to add a texture to photos. These two techniques have a very visual different impact, and can be particularly effective with my botanical art.”

It’s easy to add a whole set of techniques to your creative use of Photoshop! Register for Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis today (details below).

Flowers of Late Summer © Harold Davis

Flowers of Late Summer © Harold Davis

The Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis webinar covers:

  • Creative use of backgrounds and textures
  • The difference between a background and a texture
  • Making your own backgrounds
  • Making your own textures
  • Commercial libraries
  • How to apply an image to a background
  • Using textures and blending modes
  • Backgrounds and textures in botannicals
  • Using textures with people photography
  • Enhancing landscape photos with artistic effects
  • What to do, what not to do, and examples

When:   The live webinar session will take place on Thursday, May 29, 2014, starting at 7PM PT. The webinar is scheduled for one hour, with additional time for Q&A. The session will be recorded, and you can review the recording at your convenience.

Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Photoshop.

Where:   At your computer, anywhere.

Cost:  The registration fee for the live webinar is $29.95. This includes access to the recording of the webinar session. The cost for access to the webinar recording alone (this will be available after the session) is $19.95.

Registration: Registration for the Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis is limited to 20 participants. Click here to register for the webinar. Seats are very limited, so register now to avoid disappointment.

Venice of Cuba © Harold Davis

Venice of Cuba © Harold Davis

The landscape in Venice of Cuba (shown above) was enhanced with the addition of a canvas-based texture, creating a work of art with a painterly ambiance.

Kelly © Harold Davis

Kelly © Harold Davis

The photo of the model Kelly (shown above) was first placed on a background, then treated with a texture overlay.

Related webinars:

Selective Sharpening with LAB Color Webinar

Have you ever over-sharpened an image? (We all have!) Have you ever wanted to to sharpen just one thing in a photo, not the entire image?

If you answer “Yes!” to either of these questions, then this webinar is for you!

The internal structure of LAB color makes it ideal for attractive sharpening (without over-sharpening) in Photoshop. This is because you can work on the luminance information, avoiding the unattractive results that can happen when color data is sharpened.

This webinar shows how to use the properties of LAB color to selectively sharpen images for aesthetic effect, and teaches you a technique that should be in the toolkit of every photographer who uses Photoshop. Click here to register for the webinar.

Master photographer and bestselling author Harold Davis says, “I use selective sharpening with LAB color to enhance almost all of my photos.” Sharpening with LAB is one of the true secrets of the masters.

The Selective Sharpening with LAB Color with Harold Davis webinar covers:

  • Different kinds of sharpening
  • Using selective sharpening for artistic emphasis
  • LAB color theory and relative gamut
  • Understanding the color opponent model
  • Converting to LAB in Photoshop
  • Choosing the L-channel in Photoshop
  • Using the Unsharp Mask Filter
  • Selectively painting in sharp areas
  • Converting back to RGB

When:   The live webinar session will take place on Saturday, May 24, 2014, starting at 3PM PT. The webinar is scheduled for one hour, with additional time for Q&A. The session will be recorded, and you can review the recording at your convenience.

Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of Photoshop.

Where:   At your computer, anywhere.

Cost:  The registration fee for the live webinar is $29.95. This includes access to the recording of the webinar session. The cost for access to the webinar recording alone (this will be available after the session) is $19.95.

Registration: Registration for the Selective Sharpening with LAB Color with Harold Davis is limited to 20 participants. Click here to register for the webinar. Seats are very limited, so register now to avoid disappointment.

Nature's Palette © Harold Davis

Nature’s Palette © Harold Davis

To emphasize the distinction between the flower core and the petals in Nature’s Palette (shown above) I used LAB color and masking to selectively sharpen the flower centers. This is a relatively subtle technique, in the sense that the viewer is not necessarily aware that I have increased the “sharpness differential” between the two types of subject matter.

Related webinars:

Abroad at Home

Photographing with a group at Kirby Cove waiting for the full moon to rise behind the Golden Gate Bridge, it seemed to me that I live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Wherever I travel, for beauty it is a hard comparison with the San Francisco Bay area—and yet, part of the trick is to look at what is near at hand with the same wonder and curiosity that we automatically give to destinations that are more distant.

Full Moon Rising © Harold Davis

Full Moon Rising © Harold Davis

Isuien Garden

Gardens in Japan are almost never just about nature. The key point in a Japanese garden is how the natural elements interact with structural and human elements.

Isuien Garden, Nara, Japan © Harold Davis

Isuien Garden, Nara, Japan © Harold Davis

The style of Isuien Garden in Nara is specifically to use extrinsic elements—landscapes and structures  that are outside the domain of the garden—to enhance the garden itself. My image echoes this stylistic idea by including only the reflection of the temple in the pond, in addition to the stone footbridge and natural reflections.

Harold Davis Portfolios—current availability

I wanted to post current information about our portfolios: Botanique, Monochromatic Visions and Following the Kumano kodo. I am very excited that both Botanique and Monochromatic Visions were featured in Fine Art Printer Magazine.

We’ve sold through number 15 of Botaniquewhich combines aspects of a handmade artist book with some of the features of a portfolio. This is my most successful portfolio to date! The remaining copies, numbers 16-25 are available, at prices starting at $1,950. Click here for more information about Botanique.

A signed print of my Red Poppies, suitable for framing, comes as part of our Botanique presentation, so you have something to put on your walls as well as a portfolio to treasure:

Red Poppies © Harold Davis

Red Poppies © Harold Davis

Copies of Monochromatic Visions (numbers 4-12) are available, with current pricing at $1,200. Click here for more information about Monochromatic Visions.

Here are the images in the Monochromatic Visisons portfolio:

Monochromatic Visions portfolio by Harold Davis

Monochromatic Visions portfolio by Harold Davis

We are working on a Japanese Kumano kodo portfolio, promised to several advance purchasers following my return from Japan. If you are interested in an advance copy of this portfolio, we have one copy available for $650.00. The post-production price for numbers 4-6 will rise to $1,300. Please click here to see some of my stories and photos from Japan. Here’s an image from the portfolio:

Nachi-san © Harold Davis

Temples at Nachi-san © Harold Davis

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or are interested in one of my portfolios or one of the prints made in my studio!

This way is not the way

Not the way © Harold Davis

Not the way © Harold Davis

Solar Flare

Rain in California this spring has been sorely needed. It has fallen intermittently and blessedly heavy at times—but never enough to stop the drought or replenish the reservoirs. After one such downpour, I went out with my camera searching for waterdrops.

Solar Flare © Harold Davis

Solar Flare © Harold Davis

It was late afternoon, and the rain had stopped. The setting sun turned drops of water to natural jewelry. I crossed the street, and positioned my tripod near a large and wet patch of decorative grasses. The sun was low in the sky and reflected off some of the grasses. To the extent that I focused close, the reflection of the sun was refracted by the diaphragm blades within the lens. The closer I focused, the larger the solar refraction.

If you look at the image, you can see that I focused on the tiny drop of water in the mid-to-lower left, and that the “solar flare” of refracted sunlight shows the polygonal shape of the opening within my macro lens.

To see more of my photography of natural waterdrops, please check out my book Photographing Waterdrops: Exploring Macro World with Harold Davis (Focal Press).

Exposure data: Nikon D800, 200mm f/4 Nikkor macro lens, 36mm extension tube, +4 close-up filter, 1/400 of a second at f/5.6 and ISO 400, tripod mounted.