Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Satellite Dishes in the Medina

I am told that about half the households in Morocco have Internet access, mostly via satellite dish like these shown in this photo of the ancient Medina in Fez. These dishes also transmit sports, and no doubt the Al Jazeera news channel.

Satellite Dishes in the Medina, Fez © Harold Davis

Satellite Dishes in the Medina, Fez © Harold Davis

Castle made of sand

Coming into Ait Benhaddou shortly before an early sunset (a little after 5PM this time of year in trans-Atlas Morocco) I saw that it would be a race with the light to get to an elevation in the old fortress for photography. The bus stopped at the inevitable coffee shop with a view and for-pay bathrooms, and I raced out with camera and tripod.

Castle made of sand © Harold Davis

Castle made of sand © Harold Davis

The first hurdle was crossing the river (shown towards the back of the photo). There was a bridge upstream, but it was too far to make it in time for the light. The stepping stones nearer to my location looked precarious, but I watched a local person cross, and I realized they were steady enough if the attempt was made carefully. In fact, these steps were sandbagged cunningly in place and arranged to look precarious, so that when help was needed a tip could be solicited.

I carefully crossed the river, and made my into the Ksar. Several people demanded an admission fee. One lady was so persistent that I actually gave her a one Dirham coin (about ten cents). She took a look at it, told me if wasn’t enough, and handed it back to me in disgust.

The interior was a maze, and I knew that if I made a wrong turn I would lose the light. I also didn’t want to recross the river after dark, or miss the meeting time at the bus. So I raced upwards, finding a platform with a three Dirham for-pay bathroom and a great view. I handed over the money and set up my tripod. The proprietor was extremely gracious to me, and poured me a welcome cup of mint tea.

The image shows a castle made of crumbling sandstone, built on a huge scale, though it could easily be mistaken for a children’s sandcastle if one doesn’t look too closely.

Today is Moroccan independence day (won from France, in 1956). I’ll be writing more about this intriguing country, which has one foot in the thirteenth century and the other in the twenty-first.

Rain in Rabat

The autumn day in Rabat, Morocco was sunny with intermittent rain. During a squall with the bus parked near the medina (old town) I shot this with my iPhone through the wet bus front window.

Rain in Rabat © Harold Davis

Rain in Rabat © Harold Davis

Jemaa-al-Fna

The Jemaa-al-Fna is the central square in Marrakech, Morocco—used by locals and tourists alike. It’s a Unesco World Heritage site, and has been a symbol of the city of Marrakech for centuries. This is non-stop action, with snake charmers, monkeys, beggars and food vendors in an almost unimaginable pageant of humanity.

Jemaa-el-Fnaa © Harold Davis

Jemaa-el-Fnaa © Harold Davis

To make the image shown here, I paid for access to a “Panoramique Balconey,” and shot three exposures on a tripod. Shutter speeds ranged from one second to 15 seconds, with the exposures combined in Photoshop.

Onward to Morocco

Tomorrow we take the ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to North Africa. How fitting then to spend our last day in Spain exploring Granada and the fabulous Alhambra—the fabled palace that was the last redoubt of the Moorish Kingdom in Spain!

Detail, Alhambra, Granada © Harold Davis

Detail, Alhambra, Granada © Harold Davis

Gotic Quarter

Squashed within the ancient walls of medieval Barcelona, the old town presents a maze of twisting streets and narrow buildings close together. Along the Ramblas the area teams with life: tourist shops, restaurants, hotels and just plain people living. The view shown is one small slice of the Gotic (or Gothic) Quarter, looking down on the intersection of two streets from my hotel window.

Gotic Quarter © Harold Davis

Gotic Quarter, Barcelona © Harold Davis

Sagrada Familia

I am undone. I am so totally blown away by architect Antonin Gaudi’s masterpiece, the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Catalonia. I had not expected such an emotional and awe inspiring interior space. I’m spent, and will write more when I’ve recovered from jet lag!

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona  © Harold Davis

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona © Harold Davis

Print Prices to Rise; Special Print Offer

Our print prices are set to rise modestly in 2015. For example, a 20″ X 24″ print is now $1,600; the price will rise to $2,000. See the table below for some other price increases.

We will hold current pricing for orders placed by December 31, 2014.

In this connection, we are pleased to make special print offers from time-to-time, on a “good while supplies last” basis. The subject of this offer is Bounty of the Garden, shown below, printed on Awagami Kozo washi, in a 20″ wide and 12″ high print, hand-signed in pencil. This is a glorious and unique image that makes a spectacular print, it is our way of saying thanks for the blessings of the earth and for a great year!

The special print offer price is a great deal at $295.00 plus $30 shipping!

Special offer print shipping within the continental United States only please. Please place orders by contacting the studio for the special offer. For Christmas delivery, please be sure to place your order for the special offer print (or any print) by December 10.

Bounty of the Garden © Harold Davis

Bounty of the Garden © Harold Davis

Please note the following print price increases below. Current prices will be held for orders places before December 31, 2014. The indicated sizes are paper sizes, actual image sizes vary and are usually smaller. Special substrates in some cases may incur higher costs. For prints in a panoramic proportion, pricing is by the longest dimension (so a 24″ X 60″ print is priced the same as a 40″ X 60″ print).

Size Current Price 2015 Price
11″ X 14″ $900 $1,000
16″ X 20″ $1,200 $1,400
20″ X 24″ $1,600 $2,000
30″ X 40″ $2,900 $3,000
40″ X 60″ $4,500 $5,000

Terra Incognita

It is the job of the artist to plunge into Terra Incognita. This means exploring unknown country both literally and figuratively. When artistic territory seizes to be unknown and verges on the repetitious, then the work ceases to be exploration and becomes an exercise in marketing the known “trademark look.” It’s a sad fact that this artistic truth diverges with conventional advice for making a living as an artist—which is to find an iconic style, and to stick to it.

Burning off the Fog, Marin Headlands, CA © Harold Davis

Burning off the Fog, Marin Headlands, CA © Harold Davis

For me, plunging into the artistic unknown is like swinging on a rope high above deep water. When the leap begins it is both exhilarating and frightening, and part of what makes life worth living. I will not be shoe-horned into a narrow category. I will go “under, over and through” to discover the lands beyond, returning enriched with experiences and insights that I can bring into genres I have plumbed before.

Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan © Harold Davis

Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan © Harold Davis

On the eve of literal travel, these thoughts come to mind. This journey is a bit of a wild adventure as well, with stops in New York, Spain, Morocco and Portugal. The point, of course, is always the journey and not the destination—and it is a truism that neither I nor my imagery will return unchanged. My plan is to blog my photos, stories and adventures, so please “stay tuned.”

Saint-Roman, Dordogne, France © Harold Davis

Saint-Roman, Dordogne, France © Harold Davis

Children’s book author E. Nesbit got this right for art and for travel in one of my all-time favorites The Enchanted Castle, when she put these words in a character’s mouth: “‘I don’t understand,’ says Gerald, alone in his third-class carriage, ‘how railway trains and magic can go on at the same time.’ And yet they do.”

Today we have airplanes rather than Victorian carriages—but the concepts of escape from the mundane details of class structure and the struggle to make a living via art and magic remains the same.

Great Hall Heidelberg University

The Great Hall is Heidelberg University’s magnificent historic auditorium, located on the first floor of the old University building in the old part of Heidelberg. It’s in the same building that houses the Heidelberg Student Jail.

Great Hall Heidelberg University  © Harold Davis

Great Hall Heidelberg University © Harold Davis

When my local friend took me to see the old University building, the attendant told us that the Great Hall was closed to the public as they were preparing for an event “unless one of you is press.” I reached for my wallet, and started to pull out my Nikon Professional Services (NPS) card—not exactly press, but good enough I guess to get us into the Great Hall!

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

Dasha

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.

Blind

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.