Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs


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


Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is an ancient village perched high on the cliffs high above the Lot River about thirty miles from Cahors. In France, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful—if not the most beautiful—preserved medieval villages, partly due to its picturesque and highly defensible setting on top of a bunch of rocks overlooking the gorgeous Lot valley.

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie © Harold Davis

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie © Harold Davis

Of course, as one of the most beautiful preserved medieval villages Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is overrun with tourists. You can’t drive into the village, and must park in a nearby lot, and there are plenty of souvenir stands, and attractions like donkey rides for the kids. But its more the French analog to a scene like an American going to a state fair and getting a corn dog on a stick than it is to the parade of non-French speaking tourists you find in a place like the Left Bank of Paris.

On the weekend I visited in the late spring, the tourists were in fact all French, and I was the only foreigner staying in the Auberge du Sombral, where I had booked a room. This establishment is one of my favorite kinds of places to stay in France, essentially a restaurant with a few rooms attached, and I had a good meal and a thoroughly fun time.

It was great to be able to photograph in Saint-Cirq-Lapopie at night after the visitors had gone home. In the morning I explored more, and found this alley right behind the Auberge. Hard to say how old, but it has probably been like this for seven or eight hundred years without many changes.

Related Story: Chateau des Nazelles.

Valentre Bridge

In an earlier story illustrated with iPhone captures, I wrote: The city of Cahors in the southwest of France is a slightly gritty provincial capital—but back in the middle ages it was fabulously wealthy. Protected on three sides by the river Lot, Cahors was nevertheless sacked, abandoned and rebuilt. But glory was never regained entirely (the Black Death didn’t help matters). You can see the remnants in the palaces and monuments of the old quarter, where today they have a wonderful fresh food market. I got my lunch today in this market. You really can’t beat a fresh loaf of bread, a tranche of locally made pate, strawberries and a tomato!

Valentre Bridge © Harold Davis

Valentre Bridge © Harold Davis

Cahors may have fallen to brute force and treachery during the hundred years war during the convoluted battles between French and English monarchs, but the Pont Valentre was rightly regarded as impregnable. Originally a fortress in the center of the river, it was expanded across to both banks with ample fortifications to make direct attack well nigh impossible.

I made this photo of the Pont Valentre from the banks of the Lot River with my camera on my tripod, and my hat held over the camera and lens to protect it from the spring rain.

When two rivers woo

I’ve been playing with poetry, puns and stories in my mind about two rivers coming together, hence “when two rivers woo” and “a tale of two rivers,” and so on. Shown here: The Vezere River coming in from the left and the mighty Dordogne River from the right shot from the castle-turned-exhibition garden high above the town of Lemeuil in southwestern France.

Confluence of Two Rivers  © Harold Davis

Confluence of Two Rivers © Harold Davis

Rain was falling softly and the air was fragrant on the spring day this year that I shot the image, with my camera exposed I was mindful of the brooding clouds in the distance. If you look carefully, you can see the rain skittering across the wind-blown surface of the water at the confluence of the two rivers.

This is an HDR blend of nine exposures, each shot at a moderate wide-angle, ISO 100, and f/11. Shutter speeds ranged from 1/5 of a second to 1/320 of a second. I used a polarizing filter and a tripod.

Related images: Morning on the Lot River and Overlooking the Dordogne River.

Wheel of Life

This is a single, in-camera multiple exposure using the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 and a Nikon D800 on a tripod. Looks great printed large on Moab Slickrock Silver metallic paper.

Wheel of Life © Harold Davis

Wheel of Life © Harold Davis

Related stories: Dance in the RingsA Rorschach for MFAs and Multiple Exposures.

Morning on the Lot River

Meandering by slow roads, I crossed and recrossed the Lot River in the southwest of France. Parking by the river, a trail led me back along cliffs for about a mile. There were ancient steps carved in the rock down to the water, and I descended. Pausing, I looked down in the almost still reflection of the river—losing myself in water that seemed directionless and mystical in the early morning light.

Morning on the Lot River © Harold Davis

Morning on the Lot River © Harold Davis

Catching the full range of light

This shot from within an abandoned building on Point Richmond, California is a good demonstration of capturing an entire dynamic range of light. There’s quite a range between the bright and sunny San Francisco Bay exterior, and the far less bright interior (it is hard to describe the interior as “muted” though, considering all the colors on the walls).

Abandoned Building, Point Richmond © Harold Davis

Abandoned Building, Point Richmond © Harold Davis

I used my Nikon D800 with the extremely bright and sharp Carl Zeiss Distagon 15mm f/2.8 lens. There were six exposures, with shutter speed duration ranging from 1/1600 of a second (for the bright exterior) to 1/5 of a second for the comparatively dim interior. This amounts to a range of 320:1 from lightest to darkest. Each exposure was shot at f/16 and ISO 200. I combined the exposures using default settings in the Nik HDR Efex Pro plugin from within Photoshop.

Related story: Craneway Pavilion.

Last week for the Japan special print offer

Special Japan special offer. I am eager to get the Photographic Odyssey to Japan well-launched by the end of August. So this offer is intended for you, if you are sitting on the fence. If you follow the simple registration steps, fill out the registration application and pay the $500 trip deposit (by check or Paypal) before September 1, 2014, I will send as a gift to you a signed, original 11″ X 14″ print of either Dawn in the High Fields, Takihara or Buddha Samadhi. The archival pigment prints are handmade in my studio on Awagami Kozo washi, and have a retail value of $495 each. The images are shown above in this story. (The Awagami Factory is where we will make paper on the trip!)

You can find the full trip itinerary here, and trip costs with registration info here.

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

Dawn in the High Fields © Harold Davis

The “fine print” on my print offer: There really isn’t any. If the trip doesn’t run, of course your deposit will be returned, and you can keep the print as my gift. If you have already signed up, of course you are entitled to your choice of either print.

A friend writes, “Would love to go on the Japan trip; the trip looks like excellent value for the money . . . and I have been to Japan easily 25+ times.”

When you review the detailed itinerary, please keep in mind:

  • Japan is an expensive place to visit.
  • There is a tremendous amount included in this trip. It runs for eighteen days. This is a long trip, it includes most meals, airfare from Hiroshima to Tokyo, a workshop at the fabled, 700-year-old Awagami Paper Factory on Shikoku Island, the hotels I really wanted (in Kyoto during cherry blossom season this is a big deal), many admissions (which in Japan really add up), all kinds of transport, and bilingual guides throughoutPlease take a careful look at the itinerary to see all that is being offered.  You will see that it is assembled with a great deal of care, and that those lucky enough to join us will have unique experiences, and come home with many great and unusual photos–not just the typical tourist photographs.
  • The kicker is the small group size. Many things cost the same amount no matter how many people are in the group. This goes for guides, buses, and more. The more people, the lower the per-person cost. Of course, in a smaller size you also don’t get substantial group discounts.

Generally, I want to lead smaller groups when I travel with photographers, and it is a fact of life that this leads to higher costs. The point is a more personal experience, so that I can spend ample time in a collegial fashion with each photographer on the trip.

In the case of the Photo Odyssey to Japan, some of the very special places we will visit and stay at can only accommodate the smallest of groups. So if I wanted to present this fantastic trip, I had no choice but to keep the group size small. All that said, I have worked hard to keep the costs as low as possible.

Buddha Samadhi, Tokyo © Harold Davis

Buddha Samadhi © Harold Davis

So what are you waiting for?

Visit a Japan that most westerners never get to see with special, once-in-a-lifetime photographic opportunities.

Harold Davis

For the itinerary:

To register:

Space available this weekend!

Don’t miss this opportunity to photograph San Francisco and the Bay area with a local master photographer!

Saturday August 23 and Sunday August 24, 2014

The San Francisco Bay area is one of the places on our planet most visited for photography. If you live here, why not spend a weekend photographing San Francisco as if you were seeing it for the first time for the wonder it is?

If you have always wanted to photograph San Francisco but are coming from far away, what better way to go about it with the guidance of master photographer and Bay area resident Harold Davis?

Click here to register for the Harold Davis San Francisco Photography Weekend Workshop

100 Views cover

Following a brief orientation, we will carpool and photograph around the Bay area in an exciting and fun weekend with locations depending on weather, lighting and group inclinations. Group size is limited to twelve photographers. There will be time for image review, and Harold will make suggestions for image improvement and creative thinking about image making.

There will be a night shoot on Saturday, and Harold will present material on photographing San Francisco in both color and black & white.

Why not get the imagery of San Francisco you have always wanted?

City as Landscape © Harold Davis

City as Landscape © Harold Davis

When: Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24, 2014

Where: The orientation and classroom sessions of the workshop will be hosted in Berkeley, California. We will car pool to field shooting locations.

Cost: Tuition is $745 per person. Workshop is limited to a maximum of 12 participants.

Registration: Click here to register for the Harold Davis San Francisco Photography Weekend Workshop

Full Moon Rising © Harold Davis

Full Moon Rising © Harold Davis

Current and Upcoming Harold Davis Workshop Offerings

  • 2014.08.23-2014.08.24—San Francisco Photography Weekend Workshop. Click here for more information and registration.
  • 2014.08.26—Harold Davis presents “Digital Black & White” at the Alameda Photographic Society (7:30 PM).
  • 2014.09.13—Creative Photoshop Fun Day with Harold Davis. Click here for more information and registration.
  • 2014.09.22—Harold Davis presents “Making Memorable Travel Photos” at the Golden Gate Computer Society
  • 2014.08.19—Harold Davis presents “Photographing Flowers for Transparency” at the Peninsula Camera Club
  • 2014.10.04-2014.10.05—Photographing Flowers for Transparency, weekend workshop in Berkeley, CA, click here for info and registration. This is a unique opportunity to learn Harold’s techniques for photographing flowers from beginning to end in the context of a hands-on workshop.
  • 2014.11.03-2014.11.20—Photography Caravan to Spain and Morocco. This is an exceptional opportunity to travel to exciting Spain and then all over colorful Morocco.  You will seldom have the chance to capture so many wonderful images from both of these countries (and continents) with help from two top professional photographers (Bill Bachmann and Harold Davis) leading the way. Click here for the detailed itinerary. Trip is full, but we are taking a waiting list.
  • 2014.012.13—Photographing Waves sponsored by the Point Reyes Field Institute. Each year I’ve given this workshop it has been fun and different. Register early to avoid disappointment! Click here for more information, and click here for registration.


Harold’s workshops are often sold-out, and fill up quickly. To avoid disappointment, please register early. Feel free to contact Harold Davis if you have any questions about our workshops!

Please also consider Harold’s online webinar recordings and his Photographing Flowers course with Craftsy.

We arrange many of our workshops and events using the Photography with Harold Davis Meetup group. Click here for Group and Workshop reviews on Meetup. Please subscribe to our list and/or blog feed for early notification about new workshop offerings.

What folks have said about Harold Davis workshops and events:

  •  “A great artist and speaker!”—W. Anglin
  •  “Harold is genuine, generous, and gracious – He has a world of knowledge and expertise that he loves to share – his wonderful books show his monumental talents and skill set- his workshops shows the depth of his connecting with others in a very real and personal way.”—P. Borrelli
  • “Awesome! He patiently addressed questions from the audience which contained photographers of all levels , molding his answers to the level of understanding for each of us. His presentations covered a wonderful range of technical knowledge as well as emphasizing the need for images to have an emotional quality. The images he shares are breathtaking and he is generous in sharing many facets of how he captures such beauty.”—J. Phillips
  • “Not all photographers are good verbal communicators. Harold is someone who can DO and TEACH. A rare combination of talents.”—B. Sawyer
  • “Inspiring!”
  • “He was very giving of his talents and time. The course was very organized and thorough. Loved it! Learned so much! … I also wanted to let you know that I have more than paid the cost of the workshops I’ve done with you by selling some photos! I have sold three prints already.”—L. Beck
  • “Very creative and a marvelous instructor.”—Kay S.

A Rorschach for MFA’s

This image, with the working title Gates after Rodin, shows one model many times. The model, Jacs Fishburne, is a self-described “tornado disguised as a woman.” In the studio, Jacs was posing on a large metal hoop, sometimes called a Lyra. The Lyra was suspended by two ropes about six feet above the ground, with a black background. For some of the exposures Jacs was kneeling on the ground “holding up” the Lyra.

Gates after Rodin © Harold Davis

Gates after Rodin © Harold Davis

To make the image, I shot five in-camera multiple exposures, with Autogain turned on so that each multiple exposure was properly calibrated. Each of the multiple exposures consisted of five to eight individual shots, with Jacs changing her pose between each one. I used basic studio lighting for an even, consistent look and my D800 with the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4.

I then combined the in-camera multiple exposures in Photoshop, using both stacking and selectively pasting bits from various versions in using layers and masking. By some ways of counting, this makes for a total of somewhere between 25 and 40 different captures of Jacs, when you multiply the number of files by the number of times she appears in each.

Before finishing the image by adding a texture, I retouched out the ropes from above holding the Lyra, leaving the circular Lyra mostly in place.

A friend writes: “It brings up associations with five or six classic paintings from earlier eras. I see the Winged Victory of Samothrace on the left, and the hand of the Sphinx on the center right. Cardinal Richelieu is in the center. The face in profile at the upper left comes from something I can’t quite place and the depictions of hell by the famous Dutch painter What’s-His-Name are at the bottom [Hieronymus Bosch]. And then there’s the hint of the sumi-e circle of light again [the Lyra]. It’s like a Rorschach for MFA’s! ”

My own association is with Rodin’s Gates of Hell. I saw a casting in the garden at the Rodin Museum in Paris this spring. Maybe the memory of the Gates was lurking in my subconscious, waiting for a chance to emerge!

Related story: Multiple Exposures.

Multiple Exposures

I feel like showing the six images in my Multiple Exposures series (at least so far there are six) in one blog story. Thanks Marianne for the great title suggestion for the sequence! The models are beautiful women, but multiply exposed like this there is something definitely off-balance and dark about the ensemble.

Les Demoiselles © Harold Davis

Les Demoiselles © Harold Davis

Being and Becoming © Harold Davis

Being and Becoming © Harold Davis

Kali © Harold Davis

Kali © Harold Davis

Earthbound Angels © Harold Davis

Earthbound Angels © Harold Davis

Passion © Harold Davis

Passion © Harold Davis

Solace for the Wild Rest © Harold Davis

Solace for the Wild Rest © Harold Davis

Related blog stories: When is a photo not a photo?Multiple ExposuresKali and Les DesmoisellesBeing and BecomingSolace for the Wild RestDuos and Redos.

Also see Tender Dance and Sisters.

Flowers for Nicky

My twelve year old son Nicky (shown here a while back) was in the ensemble at Berkeley Playhouse for a teen production of the musical Shrek. For opening night, his Grandma sent him flowers.

Flowers for Nicky © Harold Davis

Flowers for Nicky © Harold Davis

He (and we) enjoyed the bouquet for a while. Then, a couple of days after the performance, I spread them out on my light box, and photographed the flowers for transparency.

For more information on my technique, check out my FAQ: Photographing Flowers for Transparency.