Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Three Poses and a Two-Fer

Contemplation © Harold Davis

Contemplation © Harold Davis

I had fun photographing a model from Los Angeles the other day. Mostly we did multiple exposures, but I also did some single poses. The single poses are shown above, and the first two below. The bottom image is an in-camera double exposure, with the same model appearing twice. I converted all images to black and white to keep the visual impact of these images simple.

Wonder Why © Harold Davis

Wonder Why © Harold Davis

Figure Study Jumping © Harold Davis

Figure Study Jumping © Harold Davis

Me & Me © Harold Davis

Me & Me © Harold Davis

Also posted in Models, Monochrome

Romantic Roses on the iPhone at the Supermarket

I photographed this nifty display of roses at a local supermarket using my iPhone 6s, then processed them in my phone using different painterly effects while waiting on the checkout line. The upper version is processed in Photo Lab Pro, the middle is done in Prisma, and the bottom is a Waterlogue.

If you are interested in iPhone photography, check out my From iPhone to Art weekend workshop (the next session is scheduled for January 28-29, 2017).

© Harold Davis

Romantic Roses © Harold Davis

Roses via Prisma © Harold Davis

Roses via Prisma © Harold Davis

Roses via Waterlogue © Harold Davis

Roses via Waterlogue © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone

Fight Off Your Demons

This is an in-camera multiple exposure with six individual exposures with my camera set to Autogain. I varied the focal length between exposures to capture the model and her lace outfit in a variety of poses. Each shot was lit using studio strobes modified with a grid, and on one side a large soft box. The background was black seamless paper. I processed the image minimally in Photoshop, and added a texture from Flypaper for the final effect. Click here to check out some of my other multiple exposures of models.

Fight Off Your Demons © Harold Davis

Fight Off Your Demons © Harold Davis

Also posted in Models

Iris Trilogy

Sometimes simple is best!

Iris Trilogy © Harold Davis

Iris Trilogy © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Flores Pano on Black, and on White

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores (black) © Harold Davis

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores (black) © Harold Davis

I’ve been doing a great deal of black and white work for my forthcoming book from Monacelli Press, so its nice to take a color break with a color image, even though the color is on black, and also on white—so color and black and white!

In times of trouble, both personal and for the world, what better to turn to than flowers? There’s nothing like spending time arranging, photographing, and processing a floral panorama to help with serenity and steady the nerves.

Roughly speaking, the image title translates from the Latin to “Let’s take flowers with us and dance!” If you check out the exposure and processing info below, you’ll see this is one floral dance that took a great deal of work. To quote the American poet Randall Jarrell, “Art being bartender is never drunk.”

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores (white) © Harold Davis

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores (white) © Harold Davis

Related image: Garden Party.

Exposure and processing info: Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2, photographed on a light box, eighteen exposures (photographed in two panels, left and right, each panel nine exposures with shutter speeds from 1/8 of a second to 15 seconds), each exposure at f/16 and ISO 64, tripod mounted; exposures converted from RAW using Adobe Camera RAW and Nik HDR Efex Pro, and combined in Photoshop; processed in Photoshop with help from Nik Color Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, and Topaz Glow; black version created using an LAB L-channel inversion in Photoshop.

Also posted in Flowers

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, Paris, 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, Paris

From iPhone to ART: A weekend iPhonegraphy workshop with Harold Davis

From iPhone to ART: The Art of iPhoneography

A Two-Day Weekend Workshop with Harold Davis, Saturday January 28 – Sunday January 29, 2017. This workshop will be hosted in Berkeley, California, and combine classroom sessions explaining iPhone camera and processing apps with field iPhonegraphy sessions at select locations in the San Francisco Bay area.

Floral Fun © Harold Davis

Floral iPhone Fun © Harold Davis

Tuition: $645 until September 30, 2016 (early-bird special); $695 thereafter. Click here for registration and information.

Those who have attended Harold’s previous iPhone workshop are encouraged to attend; newcomers are also welcome.

The iPhone is the most used camera in the world. As they say, the best camera to use is the one you have with you, and this is often your iPhone camera. Best of all, the iPhone is itself a powerful computer for processing your photos, so you have a digital darkroom in your pocket wherever you go. As Harold says, “since I have my camera and darkroom in my pocket, I am never again bored in a train station, or when dining alone in a foreign land!”

Mas de Garrigue © Harold Davis

Mas de Garrigue © Harold Davis

The fundamental rules of photography still apply, and you can become a powerful photographer with your iPhone by learning the fundamentals of exposure and composition. The iPhone camera exposure and composition controls will be demystified in classroom sessions, and in practice in the field.

Classroom sessions will help you learn how to work with some of Harold’s favorite powerful iPhone post-production applications including Snapseed, Lo-Mob,  DistressedFX, Waterlogue, Mextures, and Image Blender. You’ll have a chance to practice using these apps on your own with assistance and supervision.

Click here for registration and information.

Still Life in Silver Bowl © Harold Davis

Still Life in Silver Bowl © Harold Davis

Of course, your iPhone is more than just a camera. The computing power within a contemporary iPhone is greater than the computing power that sent NASA to the moon—and many photography apps take advantage of this “darkroom” in your pocket.

In From iPhone to Art, we will learn how to leverage our talents to make the best iPhone imagery we can. Demos, lectures, and hands-on exercises will explore the principles of photography as they relate to the iPhone camera.

Fetish © Harold Davis

Fetish © Harold Davis

Since the iPhone is the camera we always have with us, and since so much of our photography is done with the iPhone, why not be the best iPhoneographers we can be?

Master photographer and Photoshop guru par-excellence will show you some of the apps he uses to finish his iPhone images. Advanced topics will include texturizing and layering iPhone images.

The workshop will include several guided field sessions, in class processing help, and image critiques.

Click here for registration and information.

Maple Leaves © Harold Davis

Maple Leaves © Harold Davis

Here are some comments from participants about Harold’s previous iPhoneography workshops:

  • “Thanks for a great workshop!”
  • “I never knew my iPhone could do so much. You’ve opened new horizons!”
  • “I enjoyed the class very much, and am having fun practicing with the new apps.”
  • “Great information. Thanks, I learned lots of new tricks and different ways of seeing things.”

Click here for registration and information.

Stage Set Two © Harold Davis

Stage Set Two © Harold Davis

About Harold Davis

Harold Davis is an internationally-known digital artist and award-winning professional photographer. He is the author of many bestselling photography books including The Way of the Digital Photographer (Peachpit Press, awarded as a Top 10 Best 2013 Photography Book of the Year by Photo.net). Harold Davis’s most recent book is Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer: A Photographer’s Creative Companion and Workbook (Focal Press). His Photographing Flowers (Focal Press) is a noted photography “classic,” and is rated the Best Guide to Flower Photography byDigital Photographer Magazine.

In addition to his activity as a bestselling book author, Harold Davis is an Adobe Influencer, a Moab Master printmaker and a Zeiss Lens Ambassador. Harold Davis’s work is in collections around the world. It is licensed by art publishers, in annual reports, and has appeared in numerous magazines and many publications.

Pagoda in Nara © Harold Davis

Pagoda in Nara © Harold Davis

Harold’s black and white prints have been described as “hauntingly beautiful” by Fine Art Printer Magazine, and his floral prints have been called “ethereal,” with “a purity and translucence that borders on spiritual” by Popular Photography.

Recently Harold Davis’s work has been exhibited in venues including Photokina in Cologne, Germany, PhotoPlus Expo in New York, the Gallery Photo in Oakland, California, the Arts & Friends Gallery in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Awagami Gallery in Japan.

Harold Davis has led destination photography workshops to many locations including Paris, France; Spain and Morocco; and the ancient Bristlecone Pines of the eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.

Les Deux Magots © Harold Davis

Les Deux Magots © Harold Davis

Harold’s popular online course on Craftsy.com, Photographing Flowers, has thousands of students. His ongoing photography workshops in partnership with institutions such as Point Reyes Field Seminars, the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California, Maine Media Workshops, and the Heidelberg Summer School of Photography are continually in demand and popular.

According to Rangefinder Magazine, Harold Davis is “a man of astonishing eclectic skills and accomplishments.” You can learn more about Harold and his work at his website, www.digitalfieldguide.com and on his blog, http://www.digitalfieldguide.com/blog/.

Click here for registration and information.

Path beside the Rhine © Harold Davis

Path beside the Rhine © Harold Davis

Caddy © Harold Davis

Chevy © Harold Davis

Click here for registration and information.

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