Review copies available: “Achieving Your Potential”

My new Focal Press book Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer: A Photographer’s Creative Companion and Workbook will be shipping shortly. I have a few review copies available to my photographic community. I am looking for honest and thoughtful reviews (hopefully you can say good things about my book and the accompanying workbook!) on Amazon and other venues such as blogs and photography club and user group sites.

02-04-2015-Achieving-CoverTo apply for a review copy, please send me an email with your shipping address (within the US only please). Include a phone number (it will be used for shipping purposes only). I’d appreciate any information you can supply in your email as to why you’d be a good choice for a reviewer, e.g., previous reviews, and so on.

Here’s a book description from the back cover: Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer and the companion Photographer’s Workbook are here to help you be the best photographer that you can be—so you can achieve your potential as a photographer. You’ll find inspiration, ideas, and tools to use along the way, as you achieve new goals with your photography.

Harold Davis shows you inspirational examples and challenges you to take your work to the next level, as he guides you along the path to making real progress with your work. The pull-out Photographer’s Workbook that comes with Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer is like a “workshop in a box,” helping you apply what you learn so you can find your unique vision in photography.

An advance review in Rangefinder Magazine notes that Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer is “vintage Harold Davis: graphically lively, amply thought out, and informed by Davis’s unique sense of organization and creative vision. It is well worth checking this title out…”

Thanks for being part of my photography community, I hope to hear from you!

Language of Flowers © Harold Davis

Language of Flowers © Harold Davis

Posted in Writing

Photographic Tour to Romantic Southwest France in April, 2016

What: A week with a small compatible group of photographers in a 15th Century castle in the lush countryside of southwest France in the springtime.

Where: Mas de Garrigue, a 15th century fortified farm near the Lot River: gardens, gourmet French home cooking, ancient medieval villages and castles, and a photographer’s and walker’s paradise.

Mas de Garrigue

Mas de Garrigue

When: Thursday April 21, 2016 (leave US April 20) to Friday April 29, 2016 (eight nights and nine days).

Group Size: This exclusive, small photo workshop tour is limited to six photographers (non-photographer significant others are also welcome).

Valentre Bridge © Harold Davis

Valentre Bridge © Harold Davis

Details: The group meets at a luxurious hotel in Toulouse in the southwest of France on the afternoon of Thursday April 21, 2016. Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, and the capital of the modern French aerospace industry. It is easily accessible by plane or train from Paris and other points in Europe. There are many photographic opportunities in Toulouse itself, and we will visit some of these with a private guided tour, followed by an introductory group dinner (included in the cost).

On Friday April 22 we will transfer by private mini-bus to Mas de Garrigue in Calvignac on the banks of the beautiful Lot River. This is a region of beautiful rivers and valleys, stark cliffs with ancient clinging villages, sacred pilgrimage routes, stone bridges, churches that date from the era of the crusaders, beautiful flowering gardens, and much more.

Morning on the Lot River © Harold Davis

Morning on the Lot River © Harold Davis

The Mas de Garrigue will be our home away from home for the next seven nights, hosted by Sarah and Steven. Here’s a description: “Mas de Garrigue, a 15th century former hunting lodge and fortified farm is a stunning and important historic house retaining many original features within such as vast stone fireplaces, arrowslits, a 15th century window, stone sinks, magnificent oak beams and pigeon coops. Sarah and Steven have lovingly and respectfully restored the house, with elegant taste and sometimes a contemporary twist. The marriage of Irish antiques and art with French architecture is harmonious and charming.

pig800

Noir de Gascon piglet

“Sarah and Steven provide warm Irish hospitality in the beautiful Midi Pyrenees of South West France. Sarah studied cuisine in Paris and Steven hails from the well known Irish culinary and hospitible Allen clan. Passionate about food and wine, they offer sumptious dinners of homegrown and locally sourced produce. Steve rears two “Noir de Gascon” pigs every year which Sarah transforms into delicious terrines, pates, saucisse and hams. Steven keeps the kitchen stocked with vegetables, tomatos, herbs and even Saffron.”

Dinner setting at the Mas de Garrigue

Dinner setting at the Mas de Garrigue

While at the Mas de Garrigue Sarah and Steven will provide us with three wonderful dinners and a number of box lunches (these are included in the tour cost).

Room at the Mas de Garrigue

Room at the Mas de Garrigue

We could happily spend our time photographing right around the location of the Mas de Garrigue (and if you choose to do so, no one will think the less of you!), but three extensive professionally-guided excursions are included in the workshop.

Excursion destinations by private vehicle with guide will include:

When (alas!) our time in the Lot River Valley draws to a close on Friday April 29, transfer by private mini-bus to Toulouse train station or airport for return to the United States or further adventures in Europe is included.

Cost: $4,695 per person (single supplement $675); $500 early-bird discount for completed registration by August 31, 2015.

Inclusions: Eight nights lodging (one night at a 4-star hotel in Toulouse, seven nights at Mas de Garrigue), all breakfasts (8), many meals (four dinners, four lunches), walking tour of Toulouse with licensed guide, transfers from Toulouse to Mas de Garrigue (Calvignac) on arrival, and from Calvignac to Toulouse returning, three extensive excursions including admissions and licensed guides, and service charges.

Exclusions: Airfare and transportation to Toulouse (Toulouse is easy to reach by plane or train from Paris and many other points in Europe), meals except as indicated, wine and spirits, and personal items such as souvenirs.

To Register: Please send us an email expressing interest right away; a completed registration requires a $1000 deposit.

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie © Harold Davis

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Gem of the Drakenberg

Wandering with the kids over to Indian Rock I came across some really nice spiral specimens of Aloe polyphylla. The plant is originally from Lesotho near South Africa, and is sometimes called “the Gem of the Drakenberg.”

Spiral © Harold Davis

Spiral © Harold Davis

I snapped an iPhone photo, and processed it while the kids played in the rocks. Then today I couldn’t resist going back with the big camera! Processed, like my Agaves, to look as much like an etching or a lithograph as a photo.

Gem of the Drakenberg © Harold Davis

Gem of the Drakenberg © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Monochrome, Patterns

Free Webinar: Creative Floral Photography with Harold Davis

What: A Free Webinar. Join Topaz Labs for an exciting session as Harold Davis shows how he uses Topaz plug-ins to enhance his well-known botanical photos.

When: Tuesday, Jul 21, 2015 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM PDT, at your computer or mobile device.

Registration: The webinar is free, but you must preregister using this link.

Flowers of Spring's Desire  © Harold Davis

Flowers of Spring’s Desire © Harold Davis

Description: Harold will demonstrate his full workflow, from photo to finished art, incorporating his favorite Topaz programs and how he uses the plug-ins both as tools and endless creative opportunities. Harold’s session will help you learn to make the most from Topaz Adjust, Impression and Simplify in the context of your photography, and explore options for using Topaz in the process of coming up with your own creative style. There will be time for Q&A at the end of the session.

Bonus Feature: Topaz will be announcing Topaz and Focal Press (the publisher of Harold’s forthcoming book, Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer) coupon codes during the session and sending the coupons to all registrants after the session.  Topaz will also be giving away 2 full Topaz Collections (16 programs) and 2 books by Harold Davis courtesy of Focal Press.

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

About Harold: Harold Davis is a well-known photographer, the author of many bestselling photography books, and a popular workshop leader. He is an Adobe Influencer, a Moab Master, and a Zeiss Lens Ambassador.

Clematis on Black  © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photoshop Techniques, Workshops

Views of Japan

Hokusai, the famous Japanese woodblock print artist of the Edo period, created many views of Japan that included Mt Fuji, but the one shown here was probably not in his contemplation as they didn’t have air travel back then. I made the photo on an internal Japanese flight from Tokushima on Shikkoku Island to Haneda Airport near Tokyo.

View of Mt Fuji © Harold Davis

View of Mt Fuji © Harold Davis

For my own homage to Hokusai in the context of San Francisco, check out my book 100 Views of the Golden Gate.

As part of a chapter in the new book I am working on, related to black and white photography, I’ve been looking through my photography of Japan. These are some of the iPhone photos I’ve found, mostly of subject matter that I also photographed with conventional, high resolution cameras.

Misty Mountains © Harold Davis

Misty Mountains © Harold Davis

For example, the view of misty mountains long the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage on the Kii peninsula shown above can be seen more extensively in Distant Japanese Landscape.

The somewhat bleak courtyard shown next is in Koya-san, where I stayed for a couple of rainy autumn days as a guest in a monastery.

Autumn in Japan © Harold Davis

Autumn in Japan © Harold Davis

If you’ve ever visited Japan’s ancient imperial capital of Nara, you’ll know that the deer of Nara are a big touristic deal—which is why they are portrayed in the attractive design on the manhole cover that I found on a Nara side street.

Manhole Cover, Nara, Japan © Harold Davis

Manhole Cover, Nara, Japan © Harold Davis

I liked wandering around Nara. There was a great deal to look at, such as Kofuku-ji, a Buddhist pagoda temple with origins dating to the 669 AD, once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples. Today, even monuments as important as Kofuku-ji radiate a palpable sense of time having moved on, and despite all the hustle and bustle in Japan Nara seems like a delightful backwater.

Pagoda in Nara © Harold Davis

Pagoda in Nara © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Japan, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography

Free Wrecked Blue Couch for House Guests You Hate

Wrecked Blue Couch © Harold Davis

Wrecked Blue Couch © Harold Davis

Here’s an ad I wrote for Craig’s List recently about one of the two couches we are trying to get rid of:

Too many folks trying to crash at your place? Let them sleep on this couch and they’ll move on fast! All four of my kids have had their way with this blue couch, and wife now wants to upgrade. It’s not in great shape, note the tear on the right arm fabric, but with a throw over it it still looks half way decent, and I could see it in a man cave or something. Basically, you are getting a wreck—with a width of about six feet. Come take it away for free, and win our thanks!

Not very surprisingly, we’ve had no takers. But it was fun writing the ad copy…

Posted in Bemusements

Oakland 16th Street Station

The Oakland 16th Street Station, also called the Central Oakland Station, was built in the early 1900s as a grand terminus for the Southern Pacific Railway. In service until 1994, the station also served as a transportation hub, connecting the local East Bay Electric Railway and Amtrak with the Southern Pacific.

Hall of Shadows © Harold Davis

Hall of Shadows © Harold Davis

Taken out of service in 1994, the station is now disconnected from all train tracks, fenced, and locked. A local not-for-profit development corporation has owned the station since its closure. Located in what has become a mixed neighborhood with light industry, single-room residence hotels, ad-hoc homeless villages of shopping carts and makeshift tents, neighborhood vegetable gardens, and fancy gated condo communities, in the shadow of the highway maze surrounding the approaches to the San Francisco Bay Bridge, the future of this historic structure is unclear. Currently, it is sporadically rented as a movie set, for parties (there has been at least one wedding here), and to groups of roving photographers.

Bench for Waiting © Harold Davis

Bench for Waiting © Harold Davis

Late in the afternoon I joined a small group of co-conspirators who arranged for legitimate access to the site. Meeting at the gate to the property, we were locked in by the somewhat grumpy caretaker, who planned to release us four hours later. It turned out he was a pussy cat when he came to let us out, and genuinely concerned and excited about the history and preservation of the structure.

Before daylight faded we photographed in the main waiting area, on the train platforms that lead to nowhere, and in the arcades below the tracks.

Dinosaur Climbing Stair © Harold Davis

Dinosaur Climbing Stair © Harold Davis

About the images: The top image, Hall of Shadows, combines two photos, each shot with my Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 wide-angle lens with the camera on a tripod at f/10 and ISO 200. A darker photo was made using a 30 second exposure time, and a lighter one was made at 60 seconds.

One of my co-conspirators brought a self-powered 600 watt strobe. In the first, darker image he fired it just outside the door, and also from the outside of the windows. In the longer, lighter exposure he illuminated the whole room, using sequential light bursts.

I visualized this incredible room with its ghosts of the past as a dim, shadowy place. My idea was that the details should not be entirely clear because of the darkness. People passed through this station, living their lives, having love affairs, taking the train to go to war or to different destinies. All these lives haunt the 16th Street Station, and now they are passing into obscurity.

To capture this idea, I started with the first, dark exposure, then gradually painted in some areas of light and shadow from the brighter image. I took great care not to reveal too much, and to leave the image low-key and mysterious.

Bench for Waiting was photographed while there was still a little afternoon light in the waiting hall. It’s a straightforward monochromatic HDR image, shot on the tripod at 28mm, with three exposures ranging from 5 seconds to 30 seconds, each exposure at f/22 and ISO 200. This bench is pretty amazing, sitting there placidly, with the decaying plaster walls of the monumental space behind it.

The compositional trick was to align my camera at a height to as nearly as possible approach the bench in a completely perpendicular fashion. The point of this was camera position was to minimize perspective distortion, and was harder to accomplish than one might think in the dim light.

End of the Line and Dinosaur Climbing Stairs were photographed in the arcade beneath the tracks. I used multi-image bracketing to render them colorful, and to extend the dynamic range of each image.

End of the Line © Harold Davis

End of the Line © Harold Davis

Special thanks to those who organized and participated in this fun and exciting photographic event (you know who you are!).

Posted in Monochrome, San Francisco Area

Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo

In the eighteenth century, Tokyo—then known as Edo—was the world’s largest city, with a population of over one million. Today, Tokyo is still one of the world’s great metropoli, sprawling over an almost unimaginable population and area with numerous “cities within the city,” districts that are important in-and-of themselves.

The Rainbow Bridge crosses northern Tokyo Bay between two of these districts,  Shibaura and the Odaiba waterfront development in the Minato district.

Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo © Harold Davis

Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo © Harold Davis

Walking across this graceful suspension bridge is an uplifting experience in several sense of the word. The graceful curves of the bridge take you high above the bustle of the city, at the same time making the lines of modern Tokyo apparent.

As I crossed the Rainbow Bridge with my camera in the dusk of a foggy November day, I tried to align the curves of the bridge with the lines of an apartment complex in Odaiba in image that uses selective focus to contrast the curves in the Rainbow Bridge with the linear spaces of the buildings beyond.

300mm, 1/200 of a second at f/5.6 and ISO 400, hand held; processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop, and converted to black and white using Perfect B&W.

Posted in Japan, Monochrome

Sweet Pea after O’Keeffe

After seeing some of my photos mistaken for O’Keeffe’s luscious flower paintings, I took another look at the wondrous botanical art of Georgia O’Keeffe. The sensuous, indeed sexual, nature of the O’Keeffe portrayal of flowers is a pretty obvious characteristic of her paintings.

Flowering Sweet Pea © Harold Davis

Flowering Sweet Pea © Harold Davis

What wasn’t clear to me until I took this further look was the extent to which O’Keeffe plays with magnification and scale. Essentially O’Keeffe is often painting extreme macro compositions, although they do not always seem that way to the viewer because of how they have been magnified and sometimes distorted. In its own way, this is a very photographic approach to painting, as I like to think I approach photography in a painterly way.

Click here to see some of O’Keeffe’s sweet pea paintings (opens Google images in a separate tab/window).

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Dogwood & Friends

A Matilija Poppy pokes out in the middle of a covert of flowering dogwood, cosmos, old-fashioned roses, echinacea, and climbing mallows. Enjoy!

Flowering Dogwood & Friends © Harold Davis

Flowering Dogwood & Friends © Harold Davis

Photographed straight down on my light box for transparency, and captured using my Zeiss 100mm macro lens, five exposures each at f/22 and ISO 64, exposure times from 1/5 of a second to 3 seconds; tripod mounted; exposures processed and combined in Nik HDR Efex Pro, Adobe Camera Raw, and Photoshop, with finishing touches added using Photoshop, Nik Color Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, Topaz Impression, and Nik Viveza.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Floral Fantasies

These floral fantasies are created and photographed as collages on the light box, then processing in Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, Nik, Topaz, and using LAB color adjustments. What fun!

Bright As a Summer's Day © Harold Davis

Bright As a Summer’s Day © Harold Davis

Photographed with my Zeiss Otus 85mm at f/16 and ISO 64 in two panels, each panel with eight exposures ranging from 1/15 of a second to 15 seconds. First I combine the captures in each panel using the techniques explained in my Photographing Flowers for Transparency FAQ. Then I use Photoshop to combine the left and right sides of this floral panorama, for an extremely high resolution file.

Shadow of the Solarized Moon © Harold Davis

Shadow of the Solarized Moon © Harold Davis

The workflow for processing these images is laborious but a great deal of fun. Learn more via my books, my online webinar recordings, or in a Harold Davis workshop (there are only a few spaces left in my Flower workshop in Maine this August).

Flowers Will Reach the Black Empire © Harold Davis

Flowers Will Reach the Black Empire © Harold Davis

 

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Historic D Ranch, Point Reyes

Point Reyes National Seashore is probably unique among the American National Parks in that this public land is shared with working cattle and dairy ranches. These ranches date from the early 1800s and are very much a part of the history of Point Reyes. Many have been in the same family for generations.

D Ranch, Point Reyes © Harold Davis

D Ranch, Point Reyes © Harold Davis

Parking my car beside the road, I scrambled down a steep bank, crossed through a tunnel under the road, and found myself in the abandoned out-buildings of D Ranch. The scene shown in the image—a door within a  door within a window—with stark contrasts between light exterior wood and dark interior was too good to pass up, so I stopped to make this monochromatic image with my camera on my tripod.

Related story: Monterey Cypress Row on Point Reyes.

Posted in Monochrome, Photography, Point Reyes

Mona Lisa wants to photograph Italy with Harold Davis

Harold Davis-Mona-Italy

Prospectus and itinerary: www.digitalfieldguide.com/learning/workshops-events/italy

Registration details: www.digitalfieldguide.com/italy-registering

Click here to download graphic as e-Card PDF

Posted in Workshops

Monterey Cypress Row on Point Reyes

On my way to teach a weekend Seascapes and Wildflowers workshop at the western tip of Point Reyes, California I stopped to photograph the well-known row of Monterey Cypress trees at the Marconi operations center. This tree tunnel is one of the largest in the world made up of these trees, and marks a historically significant wireless location. Certainly, there is something very dramatic about coming upon these trees standing by themselves in the windswept landscape of Point Reyes.

Memory Lane © Harold Davis

Memory Lane © Harold Davis

By the way, the workshop was great fun with a truly compatible group of photographers. Many photos were made, participants came from as far away as Florida and New Jersey, and the sense of community that marks the truly successful workshop was indeed present. The workshop base was the historic Coastguard Boathouse, where we were surrounded night and day by elephant seals and sea lions. Thank you Point Reyes Field Institute for hosting this—and many other—memorable workshops over the years!

Here’s an iPhone capture from the classroom window at the Boathouse of the ramp used to guide out rescue boats when the place was operational, with the window cloudy with salt spray.

Coastguard Boathouse Window © Harold Davis

Coastguard Boathouse Window © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Monochrome, Point Reyes

An angel watching out for me

The barista at Farley’s in Emeryville, California makes the nicest designs in the Latte foam!

Coffee © Harold Davis

Coffee © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Photography