Category Archives: Paris

Handsome Gargoyle Devil and the Pinhole Effect

A gargoyle is a carved grotesque, with (sometimes) the practical function of serving as a down spout for rain, and often the emotional purpose of warding off evil spirits. The world’s most famous gargoyles are those on the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris—which, however, are probably as much due to the Gothic romanticist architect Viollet-le-Duc as they are to historical veracity and antiquity. When Viollet-le-Duc reconstructed Notre Dame in the 1860s, it was tumbling down and virtually abandoned. Violett-le-Duc’s renovation was strongly inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame—a work of romantic fiction not particularly based in historical realities.

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Whatever the historical authenticity of the Notre Dame gargoyles, they are a marvelous subject for photography, and a “must see” on any first visit to Paris, particularly if you have kids with you (my fourteen-year-old son Nicky joined me for my last visit to Paris in the spring, so I got a refresher in all things gargoyle, and hot chocolate as well!).

The first cameras were pinhole cameras. Pinhole cameras don’t have a lens.  Instead of a lens, light passes through a tiny hole; the light passing through this hole forms the image inside the camera. A camera obscura is a large pinhole camera where light passes through a tiny hole—the smaller the hole, or aperture, the sharper the image—and is projected on the back wall of an otherwise dark room.

The projected image is upside down, but perspective and other characteristics are preserved, so a camera obscura can be used to create detailed drawings that are accurate representations of scenes.

The first camera obscura was created by Arab physicist Ibn al-Haytham in the eleventh century. In the west, the optics of the pinhole effect were imported from the Arab world, and understood as early as the fifteenth century Renaissance (they were described by Leonardo da Vinci and others). The use of the optical pinhole effect in the camera obscura was one of the key discoveries leading up to the invention of photography; if you get the chance, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a large camera obscura, found in public parks in a number of major cities (adjacent to Seal Rocks in San Francisco).

I processed my image of this gargoyle as a demonstration of the post-production pinhole effect (adding the pinhole look-and-feel in the Photoshop darkroom rather than in the camera) for my forthcoming book The Photographers Black and White Handbook. The result is a blend of the Nik Silver Efex Pinhole preset (70%) and the Topaz B&W Effects Pinhole (30%).

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Kira in a Cafe

For the demonstration of how to add a post-production selective soft focus using an Iris Blur for my forthcoming book from Monacelli Press, The Photographer’s Black and White Handbook, I used this portrait of Kira, photographed in a café near the Eiffel Tower in the City of Light.

Kira in a cafe © Harold Davis

Kira in a cafe © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Rooftops of Paris—Split-Toned Version

I used my image of the Rooftops of Paris as a demonstration image for my new book, The Photographer’s Black and White Handbook. In my book, I use the image to show how to accomplish split-toning via a color range that selection that is converted to a layer mask. Using the layer mask, whatever tone is desired can be applied to the image. With the layer mask inverted, a different tone can be applied to the portions of the image that weren’t toned the first time.

Rooftops of Paris © Harold Davis

Rooftops of Paris © Harold Davis

Exposure and processing info: 90mm, 1/320 of a second at f/9 and ISO 200, hand held; processed in ACR and Photoshop; converted to black and white using a Photoshop adjustment; toning added for mid-tones to dark-tones using Nik Silver Efex High Contrast Preset with Cyanotype and to light-tones using Full Dynamic Preset with Sepia (both toning effects at partial opacity).

Click here to see the color version. I’ve been surprised to find the color version reproduced without authorization or licensing, which makes me glad to have Pixsy on my side.

Also posted in Monochrome

As Time Goes By

On a late November wet afternoon, as dusk turned to sodden night, I wandered the banks of the Seine River with my camera. My idea was to render the street lights as an important graphic element of the scene, so I intentionally used a long exposure and introduced camera motion into the composition, then processed to exaggerate the impact of this lighting. Note the couple doing the romantic Paris kissing thing in the light of one of the street lamps.

As Time Goes By © Harold Davis

As Time Goes By © Harold Davis

This image was originally presented in color in December 2013. As part of the Black & White photography book I am working on fro Monacelli Press, the chapter on special effects is set in Paris. I’ve reprocessed the image as part of a technique demonstration in my book.

Exposure and processing info: Nikon D800, Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 Distagon, 4 seconds at ISO 50, hand held; processed in ACR and Photoshop, special effect added in Nik Analog Efex, converted to black and white using Nik Silver Efex High Contrast and Antique Plate presets.

Also posted in Monochrome

Three Cranes in Paris

This is a photograph of the Paris skyline from May, 2016 I recently processed for a current project. I like the way it shows Paris as a city always in transition, with the old buildings, the Eiffel Tower, and construction cranes all in the same breath. I used the same textures in combination to process this image as I did in Florence and the Arno River, for a romantic look, almost like that of a Renaissance-era painting, but here a little more crisply than in the Italian image.

For all you lovers of things Parisian out there: Can you identify the location from which this image was photographed?

Three Cranes in Paris © Harold Davis

Three Cranes in Paris © Harold Davis

Exposure and processing info: Nikon D800, Zeiss Distagon 135mm f/2, 1/6,400 of a second at f/4 and ISO 100, hand held; multi-RAW process in ACR and Photoshop; finished using Photoshop, Nik Creative Efex Pro and Nik Viveza, Topaz Adjust, and Topaz Simplify; three texture files added.

Also posted in France

Diamonds and Contrails

The group went to the court of the Louvre to photograph the Pyramide, with the idea being to start with sunset and see how it went. I was a little skeptical that I could best previous results (check out this one, and this more recent example too!). But I enjoyed the scene, and the girl from Russia in a red dress who asked me to take her photo with the Pyramide in the background. Then as the sun set I saw a new viewpoint on the diamonds of the Pyramide, contrails and all, and aimed my 16mm rectangular fisheye lens at scene and reflections!

Diamonds and Comtrails © Harold Davis

Diamonds and Contrails © Harold Davis

Also posted in France

Looking Up

Sometimes a view from underneath looking up is a great way to present an unusual composition, and interesting light. People don’t look up nearly enough! Some cases in point: Here are two views from underneath, one looking up at the Eiffel tower and the other from beneath a weeping willow at Monet’s Garden in Giverny.

Underneath La Tour Eiffel © Harold Davis

Underneath La Tour Eiffel © Harold Davis

Under the Weeping Willow at Giverny © Harold Davis

Under the Weeping Willow at Giverny © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Landscape, Photography

Another Stage Set and Some Signage

Courtesy of my iPhone, here is another stage set maquette and also some Parisian signage.

Stage Set Two © Harold Davis

Stage Set Two © Harold Davis

Attention! © Harold Davis

Attention! © Harold Davis

Say Cheese © Harold Davis

Say Cheese © Harold Davis

Defense d'uriner © Harold Davis

Defense d’uriner © Harold Davis

Related stories (German signs): Cheap Shots; More Cheap Shots.

Also posted in France, iPhone, Photography

Opera Garnier Stairs

It was fun to photograph again today in the crazily ornate Opera Garnier. This one is nine exposures using a fisheye lens. Since no tripods are allowed, I very carefully placed the camera on a ledge. I used auto-bracket mode and a remote trigger to fire nine exposures separated by one f-stop each. The bracketed sequence was combined using Nik HDR Efex Pro.

Opera Garnier Stairs © Harold Davis

Opera Garnier Stairs © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome

Sailboats in the Luxembourg Gardens

Yesterday was Sunday and May Day, and the first warm sunny day in a while here in Paris. The crowds turned out in the Luxembourg Gardens, with singing and partying. It was altogether a gentle and fun scene. In the boat pond children played with the sailboats ignoring the brisk wind, helped by their parents who used special sticks to turn the ships around when they reached the further shore. There were still kids and parents playing with ships in the water late in the afternoon as the light turned golden, when I snapped this photo.

Sailboats in the Luxembourg Gardens © Harold Davis

Sailboats in the Luxembourg Gardens © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Photography

Saint-Sulpice

Our hotel in Paris is around the corner from Saint-Sulpice, a church made famous in the otherwise pretty silly book, The Da Vinci Code. The soaring interior spaces of this edifice are beyond belief. I’ve shown the cross made by the cruciform architecture, with the long nave crossed by the transept. The famous Saint-Sulpice organ can be seen at the bottom of the image. I used a hand-held fisheye lens to make this image.

Saint-Sulpice © Harold Davis

Saint-Sulpice © Harold Davis

Also posted in France

Park Path and Reflection

I photographed this image in the Parc de Sceaux, which is located in the suburbs of Paris, France and accessible to the city center via light rail (RER).

Park Path and Reflection © Harold Davis

Park Path and Reflection © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Landscape, Photography

Double Rainbow Pano over Paris

This panorama of a double rainbow over Paris was shot during a spring rain storm from the Pont Solferino as I described in an earlier story. The pano consists of nine handheld pieces shot vertically, then combined and cropped in Photoshop to make a horizontal image. When I do this kind of photography with the intention of making a pano, and I don’t have a panoramic tripod head available, I’m careful to overlap images, and I try to keep in mind rotating around the nodal point for the image—which will be pretty close to what you’d get if you drew a virtual line to the ground from outermost lens element holding the camera in the center of the proposed composition.

Double Rainbow Pano over Paris © Harold Davis

Double Rainbow Pano over Paris © Harold Davis

Check out this panorama, photographed from behind a waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge.

Also posted in France, Photography

Pont Louis Philippe

An autumn afternoon in Paris on a somewhat sloppy day, with one of the channels of the Seine River photographed from the Pont Louis Philippe, and the golden light of late afternoon just beginning.

Pont Louis Philippe © Harold Davis

Pont Louis Philippe © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D800, Zeiss Distagon 35mm f/1.4 at f/1.4, handheld; 1/800 of a second at ISO 200.

Also posted in France, Photography

Paris is always a good idea!

Paris Sunset © Harold Davis

Paris Sunset © Harold Davis

Pyramide © Harold Davis

Pyramide © Harold Davis

Paris, as Audrey Hepburn said, is always a good idea. Please consider joining my small group of photographers in Paris (and, oh yeah, at the Monet gardens in Giverny!) the first week in May, 2016.

Click here for the detailed day-by-day itinerary (PDF), here for the Prospectus, and here for the Reservation Form. If you are interested, please let me know right away.

Giverny © Harold Davis

Giverny © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography, Workshops