Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Eschew the Routine

Yesterday was going to be a day of routine and mundane tasks: bookkeeping, workflow management, writing business emails, and so on. As a professional photographer and artist, this stuff has to get done! But looking out at the garden, I saw a fresh crop of red poppies and some blue clematis. I knew they were doomed as the day warmed-up, so making art with the floral material was a now-or-never proposition!

Clematis, Poppies, and Butterflies © Harold Davis

Clematis, Poppies, and Butterflies © Harold Davis

With Phyllis and the kids over at the Karate Dojo, in the cool air of the morning, I cranked the music up, and arranged and photographed the flowers on my light box. I do like to play in Photoshop as well as the camera! As the day got warmer and the kids came home filling the house with laughter and chatter and happy noise, I used LAB color to invert the image, and added some butterflies and a textured background. Altogether a happy day of play at home for me!

Also posted in Flowers

Dragon of the Redwoods

Update: The green pattern at the bottom of the image is caused by reflection from the sensor into the lens and from there back to the sensor.

Wandering in a Californian coastal redwood grove in the Russian River basin, my son Julian and I came upon the roots of a downed tree that from certain angles seemed to resemble the head and jaws of a dragon. With my 15mm Zeiss lens, I positioned the camera with the sun behind the “dragon”, and stopped down (to f/22) to create a starburst effect. The colorful magical talisman in front of the dragon is an unexpected (but pleasant) surprise, the result I believe of optical refraction from internal lens elements (and, if you are wondering, definitely not “Photoshopped”).

Dragon of the Redwoods © Harold Davis

Dragon of the Redwoods © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D810, Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 lens, eight exposures at f/22 and ISO 64, exposures from 0.3 seconds to 2 minutes, tripod mounted; exposures combined in ACR, Photoshop, and Nik HDR Efex Pro, and processed in Photoshop, Nik Color Efex, Viveza, and Topaz Adjust.

First-Order Fresnel Lens at Point Reyes Lighthouse

This is an image of the first-order Fresnel lens inside the Point Reyes Lighthouse on the western tip of Point Reyes, California. According to the Point Reyes National Seashore website, “the Fresnel lens intensifies the light by bending (or refracting) and magnifying the source light through crystal prisms into concentrated beams. The Point Reyes lens is divided into twenty-four vertical panels, which direct the light into twenty-four individual beams. A counterweight and gears similar to those in a grandfather clock rotate the 6000-pound lens at a constant speed, one revolution every two minutes. This rotation makes the beams sweep over the ocean surface like the spokes of a wagon wheel, and creates the Point Reyes signature pattern of one flash every five seconds.”

First-Order Fresnel Lens at the Point Reyes Lighthouse © Harold Davis

First-Order Fresnel Lens at the Point Reyes Lighthouse © Harold Davis

On Saturday evening, my Creative Landscape Photography workshop on Point Reyes was lucky enough to have the lighthouse opened for us. I shot this image handheld with my Nikon D810 and a 16mm digital fisheye lens (the interior space was pretty tight). I used auto-bracketing and burst mode. There were nine exposures, each at ISO 1250 and f/6.3, with shutter speeds ranging from 0.5 of a second to 1/500 of a second.

I combined the exposures using Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photoshop.

Some related images: Lighthouse in the Fog; Night at the Point Reyes Lighthouse; Inside the Lighthouse; Owl’s Head Light.

Also posted in HDR, Point Reyes

Garden Party

The flowers in my garden decided to have a party. The Fourth of July Roses brought the noise makers and musical instruments. The irises brought the guacamole and dip. The Papaver somniferum brought, well, what poppies usually bring to a party. The tulips were pretty in pink, and they all got together and invited some exotic tulips from the store—whose frilly edges and bright orange and yellow colors added a touch of exotic, tropical pizzazz to the melange.

Garden Party © Harold Davis

Garden Party © Harold Davis

As night fell, the band played on, and the wild and crazy flower garden party got even more intense.

Garden Party Black © Harold Davis

Garden Party Black © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Webinar Recording Topaz Labs Discount Code

The recording of my Travel Photography webinar for Topaz Labs will be available for replay soon on YouTube and the Topaz website. In the meantime, for the next few days, through June 20, 2016, you can use the discount code “haroldweb04” [no quotes] for a 25% discount on all products including the Complete Collection at checkout at the Topaz Labs online store.

Harold Davis - Travel photo webinar

Tulip Blast

In a week full of family activities and graduations (Julian from high school, Nicky from middle school, and Mathew from elementary school) I managed to take some time out to photograph this lovely tulip. I backlit the flower, and got close to using a macro lens and my dedicated “low boy” tripod. To view the image, I slithered down on my belly. I think of this as Yoga: the Photographer’s pose!

Tulip Blast © Harold Davis

Tulip Blast © Harold Davis

Landscape at Sunrise

At sunrise on a hill facing the ancient town of Cordes-sur-Ciel I was out with my camera and tripod. This was a classical view. Probably the track you see in the photo had been traversed for millennia. Framing the image with the bare branches of the tree on the right, the emotional impact on me was slightly sinister but exciting. For reasons I didn’t fully understand (and still don’t) this seemed like a turning point.

Landscape at Sunrise © Harold Davis

Landscape at Sunrise © Harold Davis

The first step in the photographer’s paradigm is to understand that it’s not about the hardware: cameras don’t take pictures, people do. Next, if you want your images to be more interesting, place yourself in front of more interesting scenes. But ultimately it is about personal interpretation, so more deeply than traveling to interesting places, become a more interesting person. This is where things get interesting, and circular, because who one is can be impacted by the emotional impact of where you go, the travel not the destination, and even the act of making a photo. The pull is bi-directional.

I can think the emotional subtext of an image like Landscape at Sunrise is a conversion like that of Saul on the road to Damascus, but the bigger question is what is the impact on me, on my life, and my life as an artist, and how will I take this into other work?

Also posted in Writing

More Real than Reality

What if the the world of reflections is more real than the world of reality? That’s the question posed by Abbaye Sainte-Foy de Conques, photographed from a second-story restaurant window in the ancient pilgrimage town of Conques in southwestern France.

Abbaye Sainte-Foy de Conques © Harold Davis

Abbaye Sainte-Foy de Conques © Harold Davis

Special thanks to John Montague, who pointed the way. Related image: Window in Bourges.

Also posted in France

Free Topaz Webinar on June 14

Travel Photography with Harold Davis and Topaz is a free live webinar scheduled for Tuesday June 14, 2016 at 2 PM Pacific Time. While the webinar is free, to attend you must preregister using this link. Early logon on June 14th to the webinar itself is also advised to avoid disappointment.

© Harold Davis

Cordes-sur-Ciel at sunrise © Harold Davis

Webinar description: Master photographer Harold Davis is well known for his books, prints, and extraordinary images of a wide variety of subject matter. Harold Davis states, “In the past several years I’ve traveled as a photographer and workshop leader to many interesting parts of the world. When approaching travel photography, both at home abroad and abroad at home, Topaz software is always an important part of my workflow.”

Jemaa-al-Fna © Harold Davis

Jemaa-al-Fna © Harold Davis

In this webinar, Harold Davis explains his approach to travel photography, whether he is hiking pilgrimage trails in Japan or exploring the byways of rural France. Topics covered include:

  • What is travel photography?
  • Tips & Techniques for getting the best photos when you travel
  • Travel photography workflow in the field and at home
  • Using Topaz Adjust and Topaz Simplify to add “pizzazz” to your travel photos
  • Creating travel imagery with a unique look-and-feel using Topaz Impression
  • Special effects with Topaz Texture Effects
Upper White River Falls © Harold Davis

Upper White River Falls © Harold Davis

About Harold Davis: Harold Davis is the author of eighteen bestselling photography books, most recently Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer: A Photographer’s Creative Companion and Workbook, published by Focal Press. A Zeiss Lens Ambassador and Moab Master, Harold’s work has been published in books, advertisements, cards, posters, and in art editions. His prints are widely collected. As a workshop leader he is constantly in demand.  Harold is on the faculty at institutions including the Heidelberg Summer School of Photography, Maine Media Workshops, and Point Reyes Field Seminars.

Manarola © Harold Davis

Manarola © Harold Davis

Photographed with a DSLR and Processed on My iPhone!

I photographed these three images with my “Big Boy” camera—a Nikon DSLR—then copied them to my iPhone and processed them on my iPhone using the Waterlogue app. The original images are Succulent from our Garden, Willow Reflections, Giverny, and Under the Weeping Willow at Giverny. What a wild world of mash-ups where one can do something like this: shoot an image with a high-resolution conventional camera, complete the post-production using a powerful computer, then run the whole thing through a mobile phone filter!

Harold Davis - Succulent waterlogue

Succulent from our Garden © Harold Davis

Willow Reflections, Giverny © Harold Davis

Willow Reflections, Giverny © Harold Davis

© Harold Davis

Under the Weeping Willow at Giverny © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone

Flowers at Monet’s Giverny and at Home

Willow Reflections, Giverny © Harold Davis

Willow Reflections, Giverny © Harold Davis

Scarab of Flowers © Harold Davis

Scarab of Flowers © Harold Davis

Nocturnes Exhibition and Competition at the Southeast Center for Photography

I am the juror for Nocturnes a competition and exhibition based around night photography at the Southeast Center for Photography.

Here’s the description:  A nocturne is a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night. Enter your best photos that express the poetry of the night referentially in visual symbolism. Show us you night images, your light painting talents. Imagery should be evocative of the night and our human relationship to nocturnal darkness. Structures are okay, as is the urban landscape. It’s fine to include celestial features such as star trails or the Milky Way, but images should include terrestrial markings as well; this will be an exhibition about the human relationship, and feelings about the night.

Submissions close on June 5, 2016. Click here for the prospectus for the competition and exhibition.

Edge of Night © Harold Davis

Edge of Night © Harold Davis

Also posted in Digital Night, Workshops

Morning Mist

Morning Mist © Harold Davis

Morning Mist © Harold Davis

In the early morning in the Lot River Valley fog follows the course of the river, shown here behind a stand of trees and in front of the cliffs on the far side of the valley.

Also posted in France, Landscape

Country Rainbow

To paraphrase Ansel Adams, if you don’t go out in the rain, you will never get to photograph the clearing storm. As I explored the ancient town of Cordes sur Ciel, it began to rain. I pulled out my rain gear and continued up to the highest battlement. From the top of the fortifications, a rainbow spread out over the countryside of southwest France below me.

Country Rainbow © Harold Davis

Country Rainbow © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Landscape

Echinacea Peeking

I photographed this echinacea (cone flower) peeking through the translucent white rose petals shown in Back to the Flowers with my 200mm telephoto macro lens and a 12mm extension tube. The settings were twenty seconds at f/40 and ISO 100, of course using a tripod.

Echinacea Peeking © Harold Davis

Echinacea Peeking © Harold Davis

Also posted in France