Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Cinque Terre one of the best places to photograph in the world

According to the Photoshelter blog, Cinque Terre in Italy is one of the 24 best places to photograph worldwide (along with Havana, Cuba, the Wave in Arizona and Marrakesh, Morocco, etc). Photoshelter quotes photographer Inge Johnsson, “Cinque Terre is such an inspiring place to both visit and photograph. It’s the perfect marriage of landscape and architecture with its dramatic cliffs hugging the ocean, and the buildings in turn hugging the cliffs. And then there is the unbelievable palette of colors on the buildings, the Mediterranean waters, and even the foods. No matter which of the five towns you find yourself in…there are always photographic subjects wherever you look and whatever the time of the day.”

Check out the 24 Best Places to Photograph Worldwide (opens in a new window). Although I have photographed in many of the locations on this list, definitely Cinque Terre is on my photographic “bucket list.”

Please consider joining me to photograph Cinque Terre in October, 2015. Click here for the Prospectus and Itinerary, and here for Registration details & instructions.

New Harold Davis posters from Editions Limited

I am very pleased to have a new series of fine art posters based on my work published by Editions Limited. There are four botanical images, and two landscapes from the Kumano kodo pilgrimage trail on the Kii peninsula in Japan.

Nature's Palette, art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Nature’s Palette, art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Tulip Panorama art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Tulip Panorama art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Tulips 1 art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Tulips 1 art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Tulips 2 art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Tulips 2 art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Misty Mountains art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Misty Mountains art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Kumano Sanzen art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis

Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po art poster published by Editions Limited © Harold Davis


I photographed the beautiful model Dasha as part of my Multiple Exposures sequence in Variations, I never know which me, Quo Vadis and Dance of the Seven Veils. I was asked recently whether I had any images of Dasha that weren’t part of a multiple exposure sequence. Well, of course I do. This one was supposed to be part of a multiple exposure, but I forgot to set the camera to combine the images, so I got eight individual exposures—also explaining the in-motion look of the model.

Dasha © Harold Davis

Dasha © Harold Davis

Exposure and post-production information: Photographed against a black background using studio strobes, Nikon D810, Otus 55mm f/1.4, at 1/160 of a second and f/8 using ISO 100, post-processed to black & white using Nik Silver Efex Pro and the Infrared preset as a Photoshop Black & White Adjustment Layer. I then added Flypaper Etched Copper from the Metallic collection as a texture overlay, and reconverted (converted a second time) to black and white.

Botanique on exhibit at Awagami Gallery

I am honored that my limited edition artist book of botanical art, Botanique, and several of my prints are on exhibit at Awagami in Japan.

Harold Davis' prints on AIJP coupled with his book dossier

Awagami Factory: Harold Davis’ prints on AIJP coupled with his book dossier

We do have a few copies of Botanique remaining, starting at number 16 (out of an edition of 25). Please contact my studio if you are interested.


Photography is about light. You can’t photograph an actual thing, only the light reflected or emitted by the thing. What does this come down to at its irreducible minimum?

Blind © Harold Davis

Blind © Harold Davis

Perhaps it is bright morning sunlight coming through a “Venetian” blind, leaving only darkness and light in its wake—and us to consider grace, being blind and then seeing and the fact that one does not have to travel far to find photographic material that is of interest. One only needs to shift the way one sees that small amount to find the wonder in the ordinary that is always around us.

Capturing hand held using a Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 at 1/250 of a second, f/11 and ISO 400 (underexposed according to the light meter by about 3 EV).

Please keep in mind my series of webinar recordings, including most recently Converting to Black & White and Making Memorable Travel Photos.

Exhibition in Heidelberg, Germany

I am very excited to be exhibiting at Arts & Friends, a photography gallery in Heidelberg, Germany. The show is Harold Davis: An Eclectic Collection. The exhibition title suits me fine because I am definitely eclectic in my photographic tastes!

My understanding is that there will be two really large prints, one on Slickrock Silver and one on metallic pearl. There are roughly twenty other prints in the show of varying sizes, printed on Awagami Kozo washi, Slickrock pearl and Lasal Exhibition Fiber. All the prints are monochromatic. Special thanks to my sponsor Moab Paper, who has helped to make this exhibition possible, and to Zeiss whose fine lenses I used for most of the work in this show.

My exhibit runs from October 18 through November 16, 2014. If you happen to be in Germany, the opening is on Saturday October 18 at 6PM. Here’s the invitation card:

Invitation postcard



Here are some variations on I never know which me. The upper variation has been flipped, and a texture added to make the model appear to be coming out of the background. The lower variation has been converted to black and white.

Pygmalion Redux © Harold Davis

Pygmalion Redux © Harold Davis

This is an in-camera multiple exposure, consisting of ten individual exposures combined in the camera. I used a Nikon D810 mounted on a tripod with a Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens. The background was black seamless paper, and two studio strobes triggered by wireless were used for lighting.

Black and White Variation  © Harold Davis

Black and White Variation © Harold Davis

For the entire cycle of images see Multiple Exposures.

Credits—Model: DashaStudio: The Lighthouse Berkeley.

The end of the Berkeley Pier

The Berkeley Municipal Pier stretches almost a half a mile out into San Francisco Bay. Along the way out to the end there are views of San Francisco, the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, and Mt Tamalpais. The pier used to go even further, so the end is boarded up with the slats you see here, which look decorative in the sunset light. By the way, the view from under the Berkeley Pier is also pretty cool!

End of the Berkeley Pier © Harold Davis

End of the Berkeley Pier © Harold Davis

This image was shot on a tripod, and used three blended exposures. I used a Nikon D810 and Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 set to f/22 and ISO 64 (the native ISO for the D810). The shutter speeds were 2.5 seconds, 8 seconds and 25 seconds. Post-production included HDR blending and minor perspective correction.

Ghosts in the Enchanted Garden

On May Day, a national holiday in France, the fountains were going full force in the Parc de Sceaux. Of course, on a holiday weekend, the park was full of people, who showed up as “ghosts” in this bracketed exposure sequence, combined using HDR. I removed most of the ghosts in post-production, but if you look closely you’ll see I left a few ghosts to wander in this enchanted garden.

Ghosts in the Enchanted Garden © Harold Davis

Ghosts in the Enchanted Garden © Harold Davis

Another technical point: my usual recommendation is to bracket shutter speed by one EV increments, keeping the other settings in the exposure triangle constant. But in this case I essentially created two bracketed sequences at differing ISOs and apertures, one sequence intended to provide long exposures and a smooth effect on the water in the fountains, the other intended to capture the water as it sprayed crisply.

Both sequences were then combined into one image. I used a 70mm focal length on a tripod. The three fast-shutter-speed exposures were at ISO 320 and f/8, and ranged from 1/80 of a second to 1/500 of a second in duration. The four slow-shutter-speed exposures were at ISO 50 and F/32, and ranged from 1.3 seconds to 1/6 of a second.

The point of this process was to show both silky slow-motion water along with crisp spray from the fountains.

Ghosts in the Enchanted Garden (Black & White) © Harold Davis

Ghosts in the Enchanted Garden (Black & White) © Harold Davis

Of course, there is something decidedly old-fashioned about this kind of view, almost like a digital version of Eugene Atget in his photography of parks and gardens such as those at Versailles. So I decided to make this appeal explicit in the monochromatic version shown here. You can still see the ghosts if you look closely, but they are wandering around in black and white.

Learn more about my techniques for monochrome in this webinar recording: Converting to Black & White with Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex and also please consider my Black & White Weekend Workshop in March, 2015.


Stairway to Heaven

On a rainy spring day I was photographing under the bridges in Paris, trying to keep my camera dry. The bridge shown in this image is the Pont Solferino, a pedestrian bridge over the Seine. My position is with the Tuilleries at my back, looking across the river at the Musee D’Orsay on the left.

Pont Solferino (Black & White)  © Harold Davis

Pont Solferino (Black & White) © Harold Davis

The image shown here in black and white (above) and color (below) is composed from a bracketed sequence of five shots at exposures from 6 seconds to 1/60 of a second. I used my 15mm f/2.8 Zeiss lens, with a little post-production work to correct the perspective distortion. The HDR blending caused the people climbing the stairs to “ghost”—an effect that adds to what one person viewing my images has called a “stairway to heaven.”

Pont Solferino © Harold Davis

Pont Solferino © Harold Davis

Want to learn more about how I convert to black and white? The recording of my webinar Converting to Black & White with Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex is now available for unlimited access ($19.95).


Japan, as someone put it to me, is the most exotic place one can go that is absolutely safe. Nachi-san, shown in this image, is one of the ends of the Kumano kodo pilgrimage trail. It is a religious Shangri-la above the ocean with an impressive waterfall behind the temple complex.

Nachi-san © Harold Davis

Nachi-san © Harold Davis

In my initial story on this image, I noted that “while some pilgrims do it the hard way and walk the ancient stones of the Kumano kodo up to mountain passes and down through valleys to arrive in Nachi-san, most visitors arrive by scheduled bus, or by tour bus. Like Lourdes in France, or Mt Koya in Japan, Nachi-san is a destination for religious tourists, almost all of whom are Japanese.” There’s more about the location in the story about my long exposure photo of the Pagoda at Nachi San.

When I first processed the image I straightened the lines of perspective, but my mistake left a little of the amrgin in the finished image. The version shown here fixes my earlier mistake.

Please consider joining me in the spring for a photographic trip to Japan, which includes a visit to Nachi-san.


Falling is a single, in-camera multiple exposure using the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 and a Nikon D800 on a tripod. There was a black backdrop, and I used a studio strobe on either side, facing the model who was posing on a suspended hoop. The mechanics of in-camera multiple-exposure photography aren’t too tough to master provided auto-gain is enabled. But creating these images does require precision choreography and communication with the model to get the posing positions right, otherwise the composition doesn’t come together.

Falling © Harold Davis

Falling © Harold Davis

You can see some of the other images I’ve made using this technique in these stories: Wheel of LifeDance in the RingsA Rorschach for MFAs and Multiple Exposures. Also check out the Multiple Exposures portfolio page of these images!

Sunflower Sunrise

I love sunflowers! They are truly a wonderful flower. Of course, sunflowers are often depicted in art. For example, it is probably hard for me to say “sunflower” without thinking of Vincent van Gogh’s famous sunflower paintings. My version is Go van Gogh!

Sunflower Sunrise © Harold Davis

Sunflower Sunrise © Harold Davis

But did you know that the sunflower is also visually interesting from behind? Shot this way, from the back on a light box, with my D810 and a Zeiss 100mm f/2 macro lens, the sunflower reminds me of a landscape, or perhaps the sunrise itself!

Sunflower Sunrise (black & white) © Harold Davis

Sunflower Sunrise (black & white) © Harold Davis

Enrich your photography with Photoshop Skills – Saturday Sept 13

Registration and information for the Creative Photoshop Day with Harold Davis (Saturday, September 13, 2014)

Please also keep in mind a new session of Photographing Flowers for Transparency (Weekend workshop, October 4-5, 2014)

Photographer extradorinaire, Photoshop guru, and gifted teacher Harold Davis says, “I often get asked about my Photoshop techniques in the course of a workshop. In a general workshop that involves photography there just isn’t enough time to cover the vast multitude of creative Photoshop techniques that you can use in depth. This workshop will provide a one-time opportunity to do that exploration of Photoshop: both as a creative medium, and as an artistic partner with digital photography.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to hone your Photoshop skills in relationship to photography in a small group setting, under the tutelage of a contemporary master. What could be more fun than using Photoshop to its best advantage as a creative tool with your photography?

High-Key Tulips © Harold Davis

High-Key Tulips © Harold Davis

In this workshop, Harold will work with each participant to develop their personal Photoshop style and to process one or more of their own images using the techniques demonstrated in this workshop.

The focus will be on creating an individual Photoshop workflow that is fun and that energizes. We’ll work with layers, masking, textures, backgrounds, selections, filters, LAB color, and more. There will be time for image review, and for helping participants with individual creative projects. Take your Photoshop creativity to the next level!

Church at Auvers © Harold Davis

Van Gogh’s church at Auvers-sur-Oise © Harold Davis


Prerequisites:  Please contact us with any questions about whether you have the appropriate background for this workshop.

Davis- The Way of the Digital PhotographerSuggested advance reading/viewing: The Way of the Digital Photographer and the Harold Davis Photoshop webinar recordings.

What to bring: Please bring a laptop with Photoshop installed and some of your images that you would like to work on. The following software is also suggested (but not required): the Nik Collection, Topaz Adjust and Topaz Simplify.

When: Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 9AM to 6PM, with an hour break for lunch.

Where: 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.

Tuition: $295 per person. Workshop size is strictly limited so everyone can have the best learning experience possible.

Flowering Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Flowering Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Click here for current workshop offerings!

Here are some comments from folks who have attended Harold’s Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop in the past:

“Loved the pace, in-depth instruction and generous sharing.”


“Harold, thank you for the time, expense and effort it took to put on a great workshop….You are a wealth of information and share it so graciously.”

“Outstanding workshop!”

“A very packed workshop! Harold is very clear and organized; an outstanding photographer who is also an outstanding teacher.”


This succulent lives in a little pot on our front porch. For my first shot with my new Nikon D810, I brought it inside, wrapped the plant in its pot in black velvet, and photographed it using controlled sunlight. The lens I used was the Zeiss 100mm f/2 macro. I set the ISO to the native ISO sensitivity on the D810, ISO 64. Using manual exposure, the other settings were mirror lockup on, shutter speed at 4/5 of a second, and aperture at f/22 for maximum depth-of-field (full speed ahead and dang the diffraction, which is minimal with Zeiss lenses anyhow). Of course, I used a tripod.

Succulent  (Black & White) © Harold Davis

Succulent (Black & White) © Harold Davis

My first impression of the Nikon D810 it that it is a really good camera, but the changes compared to the D800 and D800E are essentially incremental, not revolutionary. It’s notable that the processor is much faster, and also high ISO handling has been improved even above the great high-ISO abilities of its predecessors. One nice feature I had not been expecting is that the shutter is much, much quieter, and there seems to be very little vibration from the shutter. I don’t know the technology behind this change, but it is an obvious and audible change for the better.

I am thinking that we are getting so good that significant changes in this style of camera may be hitting the law of diminishing returns. After all, who really needs more than 36MP captures? Unless you are doing big prints as I do, you don’t even really need nearly that much.

One improvement I would like to see generally is an internal sensor cleaner that actually works. This is a complaint I hear frequently at my workshops. Nikon (and the other DSLR manufacturers), are you listening?

Succulent (Color)  © Harold Davis

Succulent (Color) © Harold Davis