Online Photo CourseCheck out Photographing Flowers, an interactive multi-featured online course by Harold Davis
- Photograph San Francisco in Black and White—also Workshop Updates
- Mandalas from a Crystal Bowl
- Best Of Botanicals: National Juried Photography Exhibition
- Photographic Caravan to Spain and Morocco
- Flowers Squared
- Today’s Nautilus
- Nautilus by Halves
- Otus and me
- Current Harold Davis Photo Workshop offerings
- Tulip Pano
- Opium Poppies
- Louvre Reflection
- Quince by Moon
- Sunrise in the rice fields
- New review of Monochromatic HDR Photography by Harold Davis
- Flowering Quince
- Harold Davis “Red Poppies” on Awagami washi at Paperworld Frankfurt
- Photographing Flowers for Transparency: Only four spots left in February session
- Graced with Light in Grace Cathedral
- Advanced Black & White: Photography and Photoshop
- Broken Arrow and Creating LAB Patterns
- Photographing Flowers Course (with discount link)
- Learn Photoshop This Year!—Second Session by Popular Demand
- Working with my mobile “fun” camera
- Through a glass lightly
- Temple Flags
- Coming into the new year with my books
- My best of 2013
- Kate Rose is doing fine!
- Art Editions
- Abstractions (9)
- Bemusements (572)
- Book Reviews (4)
- Cuba (28)
- Digital Night (251)
- Flickr (13)
- Flowers (586)
- France (27)
- Hardware (32)
- HDR (53)
- Hearts (6)
- High Sierra (26)
- Hiking (28)
- iPhone (27)
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- Japan (28)
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- Phoenix Roundtrip (9)
- Photograms (75)
- Photography (2264)
- Photoshop Techniques (228)
- Point Reyes (92)
- Print of the Month (7)
- Road Trip (22)
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Category Archives: Monochrome
Photograph San Francisco in Black and White
Please consider joining me the weekend of Saturday April 12 and Sunday April 13, 2014 for a black & white photographic tour of San Francisco. I like to think of this as the film noir workshop of San Francisco, although of course we will be working in digital. Click here for details, curriculum and registration.
Depending on light, weather and group inclinations, we will shoot famous locations and those known only to locals, possibly including (but not limited to) the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin Headlands, Fort Point, the Cable Car Museum, Urban Ore and Market Street at Night. We will photograph in the daytime, and include at least one night shoot (Saturday night). Classroom sessions will cover black and white conversion, monochromatic HDR, and creating high tonal-range imagery.
The workshop will be based in Berkeley, California (we will carpool to locations) and the tuition is $695 per person. Click here for details, curriculum and registration.
My understanding based on email responses is that the Photographic Caravan to Spain and Morocco is almost full. However, we are taking firm registrations when we get completed applications and deposit checks—so if you are on the fence, send yours in now because there may still be a possibility of getting that last spot, and also we will be taking a waiting list.
Nearer to home, I am giving two extraordinary workshops on the coast of California you may wish to consider in August, 2014. I am very excited about both these workshops. Night Photography in the Big Sur Landscape is hosted by the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, CA the weekend of August 1-3 and Creative Landscape Photography on Point Reyes will take place at the historic and romantic Coastguard Boathouse the weekend of August 8-10 under the auspices of Point Reyes Field Seminars.
Perhaps needless to say, we do expect these workshops to be popular. To avoid disappointment, I urge you to register early.
Here are the related Meetup groups for these workshops:
- Night Photography in the Big Sur Landscape
- Creative Landscape Photography on Point Reyes
- Photographic Caravan to Spain and Morocco
If you are interested in flower photography, please keep in mind the Best of Botanicals National Juried Photography Exhibition partially benefiting the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Related to this exhibition, I will be presenting and discussing my botanical prints on Saturday, June 7 (this event is free). Finally, I am pleased to offer my Photographing Flowers online course at $10 off the $59.99 price (use this link for the special discount).
I’ve been photographing split Nautilus shells yesterday and today, these make such lovely spirals. Check out the monochrome version first:
It’s hard to think of another still life subject that is as classical and inspiring as the chambered Nautilus. I am looking forward to photographing a whole shell that hasn’t been split in the next few days. Here’s my recent color version:
Do you prefer today’s Nautilus in black and white or color?
Related story: Nautilus by Halves.
Learn to create extended tonal range black and white images
Saturday April 12 and Sunday April 13, 2014
This workshop includes field photography in several Bay area locations, monochromatic HDR shooting techniques in the field, black & white conversion in Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex, and monochromatic HDR processing.
When folks think of HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography, they tend to have color imaging in mind. But the fact is that HDR techniques are just as applicable to monochromatic photography as to color.
In both cases, the point is to extend the dynamic range of the resulting image beyond what is normally seen in a single exposure—and, indeed, beyond normal human perception. When working in digital black and white, the tonal range is extended from the lightest lights to the darkest darks. This results in images with great graphical appeal that make for splendid monochromatic prints.
In this workshop, Master Photographer Harold Davis guides participants in both aspects of the monochromatic HDR process: shooting and post-processing.
Workshop participants will take advantage of several San Francisco Bay area locations, with field destinations to be determined depending on weather and group predilections. Possibilities include the Cable Car Museum, Fort Point, Marin Headlnds and the Golden Gate Bridge.
In the classroom, hands-on guidance will explain techniques for extending dynamic range, monochromatic conversion methods, and best practices where the two technologies intersect.
In addition, the workshop will provide extensive coverage of the creative vision required to successfully create monochromatic HDR images as well as the workflow necessary to make art prints from this specialized image-making technique.
When: Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13, 2014
Where: The classroom session of the workshop is hosted in Berkeley, California, in a convenient location near the upscale Fourth Street shopping district and close to the University Avenue exit from I80. We will car pool to field shooting locations.
Cost: Tuition is $695 per person. Workshop is limited to a maximum of 16 participants.
Saturday, April 13
9 am: Orientation
9:30am: Black & White Photography in the Digital Era
10:30 am to 12:30 pm: Classroom session on multi-RAW processing and shooting and processing HDR sequences
12:30 – 1:15 Lunch break
2 to 7 pm: Field photography session(s) (Car pool, possible locations include San Francisco Cable Car Museum, Fort Point, Marin Headlands, Golden Gate Bridge, tbd)
8 pm: “Dutch Treat” Group dinner (optional, location tba)
Sunday, September 14
9 am: Classroom session, individual assignments
10 am to 12 pm: Individual assignments and field photography
12:00 – 12:45pm Lunch break
12:45 to 3:00 pm: Assignment review, classroom session covering monochromatic conversion techniques
3:30 to 4:00 pm: The high tonal range monochromatic print (special considerations and techniques)
4:30 pm: Workshop wrap-up
Wandering the pedestrian walk on new San Francisco Bay Bridge span in the waning days of the year, I shot this directional arrow, intended to guide foot and bike traffic, straight down and broken up by strong shadows from the railing.
It’s astoundingly easy to use Photoshop adjustments in LAB color and blending modes to create intricate patterns out of something like the color version of Broken Arrow. Here’s one example:
To get to the pattern from the color photo, in Photoshop I duplicated the image, and converted the duplicate to LAB color mode. I next used Image > Adjust > Invert to invert the LAB color values within the file, and then converted the entire image back to RGB, with results shown below:
Next, I made another duplicate of the original image file, converted it to LAB, selected the L channel only, and inverted the L channel. I flipped the image horizontally, with results shown below:
The last big step is to align the two LAB inversions as layers in one image, and set the Blending Mode to Difference (by the way, they have to be back in RGB, or the Difference mode isn’t available).
There are many possible variations on this technique of course, depending on what channels you invert, how you flip the image, and what blending modes you use. Here’s another variation from the same original image:
To learn more about the LAB color techniques for creative image making I have pioneered, check out The Way of the Digital Photographer (pages 156-163) and The Photoshop Darkroom (pages 148-201). If this really intrigues you, you may want to consider my Mastering Creative Photoshop workshop (January 25-26, one last minute spot available, more space in the second session, May 31 – June 1, 2014).
The temple flags shown in this image are along the steps leading up to the grand shrine of Kumano Hongu Taisha located in Tanabe, Japan on the Kii peninsula in Wakayama Prefecture. This temple has been one of the most important centers of the Shugendo Buddhist faith for more than 1,000 years.
My idea was to create a mystical, ghost-like image. I wanted to use the natural motion of the flags in the wind to create a soft effect, with the forest landscape in the background partially “peeking” through. To make this image, in the gathering twilight, I put my camera on my tripod, and dialed down the ISO as low as possible (to ISO 50).
With my ISO set low, I next picked a small aperture (f/22). At ISO 50 and f/22, an eight second exposure was about right—which created the flowing and soft otherworldly effect I wanted.
The two images shown in this blog story are both examples of monochromatic HDR photography. Each was shot using a bracketed exposure sequence. The exposures in each of the bracketed sequences were combined using various HDR and RAW processing techniques, and the resulting composite image was processed and converted to monochrome to extend the grayscale and tonal range of the final monochromatic (black and white) image.
As you can see from the two images that accompany this story, monochromatic HDR techniques can be effective with a wide range of subject matter. For example, the image above was created from a bracketed image sequence shot peering down into the abandoned span of San Francisco’s old Bay Bridge from the walkway of the new bridge. Below, I shot a bracketed image sequence to capture the massive and ancient moss covered tree roots and stone work on the grounds of a temple in Kyoto, Japan in the early evening light of an autumn day.
I’m pleased to see several new reviews begin to recognize the extended context of the techniques I explain in my new book Monochromatic HDR Photography. On Amazon, reviewer Larry Goldfarb notes that “while the title invokes the world of HDR photography, this book is really bigger than that, it’s about light and tonal depth. Other than subject matter, that’s photography. The author presents a variety of methods for exploring and expanding your ability to adjust both.” (Click here to read the full review.)
I am also pleased with a new book review in the January 2014 issue of Fine Art Printer Magazine. Fine Art Printer is a prestigious German publication primarily devoted to high-end photographic printing. The review says in part that Harold Davis’s photos are bought by collectors around the world. …We can highly recommend this book due to the very high image quality and the excellent text. The subject of the book is the combination of two photographic trends: HDR photography and black and white….These insights are illustrated by hauntingly beautiful black and white images (click here to download the full review in PDF format).
- Out with the Old (Bay Bridge coming down)
- Kyoto: Getting to Know Kyoto; Noriko tries to poison me; Hidden glimpses of the beautiful; Wandering through gardens and temples; Getting lost is good; Sayonara Kyoto
- Monochrome: Monochromatic HDR Photography on Amazon; Monochromatic HDR Photography publication announced; signing the Monochromatic Visions portfolio; Monochromatic Visions portfolio; Fine Art Printer Magazine book review (in German, click here to download the PDF).
The hand gestures of representations of Budhha are significant, and have specific meanings. The Dhyana mudra (hand gesture of Buddha), also called the Samadhi mudra, is shown in the photo below. This hand gesture invites meditation and a sense of deep involvement with the universe.
I photographed this statue of Buddha in the garden outside Senso-ji, the oldest temple in Tokyo (also known as the temple of the Asakusa Kannon). Click here to read my story about having my fortune told at this temple!
Negative space is often defined as the space around and between the subject of an image. From a formal design perspective, learning to see negative space helps one to visualize the impact of the positive, or actual, subject of a photo. Taking this towards its limit, in some imagery the design and composition can become more about the formalism of the negative space than the positive subject matter depicted. In a black and white photo, depending upon the context, negative space is generally rendered as either all-black or all-white.
It’s possible to walk up to the second deck (about 65 floors up) on the Eiffel Tower. From there, if you want to go to the very top, you need to buy a supplemental ticket and ride the elevator. Walking up as far as one can has some visual interest, and of course avoids the lines at the bottom for the elevators.
Looking up from the second deck, I composed this off-center composition. Exposing to render detail in the structure of the Eiffel Tower made the sky on this overcast day become essentially white. It was clear to me that I was looking at a photo where interaction between positive space (presumably the Eiffel Tower) and negative space (preemptively the all-white background) would be crucial (see image above).
But wait! Which space is actually negative, and which is positive? White space—the sky—seems like the absence of the subject and should therefore be the negative space. It’s easy to test this presumption by swapping the L-channel values using the LAB color space. Black becomes white and white becomes black, as you can see in the version of the image immediately above.
Clearly, the inverted Eiffel Tower is spread out against the sky, which still seems like the negative space, even though it is black rather than white. But also newly made black are elements such as the night lights of the Eiffel Tower, appearing as small “chocolate-kiss” structures on many of the girders. In addition, the underbelly of the top platform now shows details as opposed to the stark negative space aspect of this underside in the original image.
These image variations show the interplay of positive and negative space—and are a good illustration of both the usefulness of looking at the world with negative space in mind, and also of how complex this interrelationship can be in the real world.
One of my goals in traveling with my camera is to seek out views that are off-beat and seldom photographed, such as this somewhat unusual image of the Sacré-Cœur Basilica dominating Montmartre, the highest hill in Paris.
About half a mile before reaching Hyakken-gura, I paused in the steady rain. Peering out from beneath my umbrella, I could see through the pine trees to a distant landscape in which the cloud cover seemed to be breaking up. The view seemed to call for a panorama, so I mounted by camera on my tripod. Holding the umbrella over the camera, and ignoring the cold rain splashing on me, I panned from forest edge to forest edge, encompassing the entire view spread out below me. I knew there would be time enough later to warm myself in a hot communal bath, and to clean my camera lens from the drops of rain that were inevitably falling on it.
You can click here, or on the image, to view it wider than it is possible to see it on one of my vertically-oriented blog pages.
Related story: 3,600 Peaks of Kumano
I woke to a foggy autumn morning in Paris. No matter what the weather, there is always something to photograph in Paris—so I headed out to the islands in the Seine to photograph the mood of the day.
Photography begins with the medium of light, which the artist captures and applies to the canvas in endlessly surprising ways. And what better place to explore this medium than Paris, the City of Light, and one of the birthplaces of photography?
When we work together to photograph Paris, you’ll experience firsthand the places and sights that have inspired artists for centuries, and find new creative and unusual ways to make photos of the City of Light!
We’ll focus our lenses on Paris in bloom, Paris at night, and Paris in black & white, reinterpreting for ourselves some of the images that have been captured in paint and on film by many great artists, including Daguerre, Monet, Atget, Picasso, and Erwitt. We’ll have a grand time photographing and we’ll return home with many priceless shots to treasure!
We’ve included many of the highlights from previous workshops, such as the visit to Monet’s garden at Giverny with after hours access (one of my personal favorites), as well as new places to explore. If you check out the itinerary, I think you’ll find many wonderful locations, such as the view from the top of the Tour Montparnasse at night, Père Lachaise, and Vaux-le-Vicomte.
As one of the participants in last year’s workshop said, put Paris “on your bucket list ‘cause you may not see this in Heaven.” Another workshop participant added, “I already admired Harold Davis, and had confidence that he would lead us to fantastic places – and he did!”
During a short break in the very wet weather, from Hyakken-gura, a lookout high on the Kumano kodo, I shot this panorama of the “Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po”—which translates to “view of 3,600 peaks of Kumano.” When the wind gusted, rain splattered my face and my camera lens and tripod, so it was pretty hard to make notes to keep track of the positioning of the frames in the panorama, but fortunately Photoshop is pretty good for sorting this kind of thing out!
I don’t think there are actually 3,600 peaks—it’s important to remember the role of metaphor in life, particularly when you are on a pilgrimage—but as you can see there are certainly quite a few mountains. You can click here, or on the image, to view it wider than it is possible to see it on one of my vertically-oriented blog pages.
This is a high resolution panorama, shot in separate sections with my 36MP Nikon D800. The final processed archived original file measures 12,256 X 4,747 pixels (about 40″ X 16″) at 300 ppi (before any interpolation and enlargement). So I can’t wait to print it on a long (but not very tall) strip of Moenkopi Kozo washi made by Awagami on Shikoku Island. It might even make a good scroll.
Related image: Misty Mountains.
Along the ancient Kumano kodo pilgrimage trail there is mostly the silence of the weather. Wind whistles through the trees and a fine mist falls drop by drop. It wasn’t always this way.
When nobles from Kyoto made the pilgrimage they would often travel with many retainers—sometimes as many as a hundred people. You see the remains of those days all along the trail, from the damp and moss-covered stone stairs to the remains of small settlements and tea houses. The tea houses would wait until they saw a party of pilgrims coming, then fire up the tea kettles and rice pots so they would have refreshments to offer.
But today the world of the Kumano kodo is an empty world, alone with its ghosts—and so different from the hustle and bustle of Japanese cities like Tokyo. There were almost no Japanese people on the trail, but one man from Tokyo I did meet was wearing a business suit, business shoes, and a winter fur-lined coat.
He was staring about him wildly at the emptiness of solitude, wide-eyed and obviously terrified and afraid of the unfamiliar surroundings of wilderness without people. I wish I could have spoken enough Japanese to have learned his story, but this was not possible.
What brought him to the Kumano kodo pilgrimage, so far from his usual haunts? Tokyo Station with its acres of platforms, trains and levels sees fourteen million passengers a day. For someone used to this volume of people, their absence must be terrifying. Why was he here? I have never seen anyone look so obviously and physically afraid. As Phyllis said when I told her about meeting this man in the wilderness along the Kumano kodo that was so alien to him, “He must have done something bad, very bad, and was atoning. Probably, he will never do it—whatever it was—again!”
At 6AM my iPhone alarm rang. I raised my head off the futon, pulled the screen aside, and peered out the window at a world of driving rain. Yunomine Onsen is a country hot spring resort, so before starting up the trail I took a nice long soak, figuring as long as I was going to be wet, I might as well be warm AND wet.
Pack cover in place and umbrella in hand I started up the trail. At first the rain was heavy, then it subsided to a constant pitter-patter in the trees. Walking on a trail in the rain is fun, but it does lead to melancholy reflections, particularly when you pass settlements that were abandoned hundreds of years ago, as is often the case on the Kumano kodo.
Soon the trail started climbing towards a high pass, and I was blessed with a distant view of misty mountains as the storm began to clear.
I am hiking on the Kumano kodo at last. It seems like a long time ago that I started planning this trip. Amazingly, everything is working. To get to the trailhead from Mt Koyo, I took a bus, a cable car, three trains, and another bus. This first night I am staying in a country guesthouse in a village named Takahara—or “high fields” in English. The inn hangs high above a valley, and maybe tomorrow morning will have fog and clouds caressing the mountains and clinging to the valleys.
It was a reasonably tough ascent to get here, over old gnarled tree roots and a rocky path that has been trod by pilgrims for literally millennia. Every once in a while a shrine or a marker reminded me of the history. The topography is steep, with erratic ups and downs, and a chill autumn wind helped make sure that I did not tarry too much. Fortunately, here in Takahara I have dinner, a warm bed, and a hot communal bath. Ah, joy indeed for the distance hiker!