Orvieto Passage

Recently I processed this image from Orvieto, in Umbria (Italy). In the morning the fog was thick. I took advantage of the evocative lighting, and framed an ancient, cobblestone passage by looking (with my camera) through an arch. The result is a composition that takes one to the place, and somehow seems to bring up the smells and feeling of being there.

Related image: Duomo in the Clearing Fog.

Orvieto Passage © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy, Monochrome, Photography

Proteus X-Ray

If you ask photographers what is most important to them about their photography you may well get an answer like “revealing things that are otherwise hidden” or “showing the world in a new and different way.”

If these are one’s goals, what could be more fitting than the x-ray, which literally records using a spectrum that is not visible to our naked eyes, and reveals hidden structures within. 

Proteus X-Ray © Harold Davis

In the spirit of revealing hidden structure, I used medical x-ray devices to capture this image of a Proteus in collaboration with my friend, the photographer and radiologist Julian Kopke.

Posted in X-Ray

Talisman

I like to photograph found objects—“talismen”—that I can think of as magical objects with power. Those shown here are a mixed bunch: an enamel box with the apotropaic symbol for warding off evil (an example of this symbol on a door in Vietnam here), a collection of cookie cutters, and hearts within hearts.

Each image was photographed on a simple black background. I used bracketed low-key captures with exposure blending—the inverse process to photographing flowers for transparency using a high-key HDR layer stack.

Talisman © Harold Davis

Cookie Cutters © Harold Davis

Hearts Within © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Young James

This is my grandfather James Young Palmer at age eight in about the year 1900, found while going through things in my parent’s home. James was of course young once (as in this photo), but when I knew him he was relatively old: he lived well into his hundreds and the 1990s. I always thought it odd that a person who seemed so old to me should have a middle name like “Young”. But then, as we grow older, we learn that the world is full of ironies.

James Young Palmer © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

2022 Stamp Yearbook

Images created from my Tulip Pano and Sunflower Bouquet decorate the United States Postal Service 2022 Stamp Yearbook. I’m pleased with how my images look. Click here for info about my stamps.

2022 Stamp Yearbook – Slip Cover (Image credit: Harold Davis)

2022 Stamp Yearbook – Wrap-around Cover (Image credit: Harold Davis)

2022 Stamp Yearbook – Section Divider (Image credit: Harold Davis)

2022 Stamp Yearbook – Stamp Page

Posted in Photography

Memorial Mandala

I constructed this free-form mandala on my light box from flowers in the condolence bouquets that kind folks sent us for the recent loss of my parents. The practice of my light box work in this case helped to serve as therapy, although there is of course nothing that can make this loss whole.

Memorial Mandala © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Remembering Martin and Virginia Davis

My parents Martin and Virginia Davis both died on Sunday, January 1, 2023. They were in their nineties. My father had been sick for a long while and in a great deal of pain, so in some ways his death is a relief. Martin and Virginia had been married for 71 years, and Virginia said she didn’t want to live without Martin.

After the hospice nurse confirmed Martin’s death, Virginia kissed him and then went back to bed. A short time later she was gone. I think she died of a broken heart. Both were peaceful looking in death. It was as if Martin held out his hand to Virginia, and said, “Come on. Let’s go!”

Martin and Virginia in 2011 © Harold Davis

My parents soon after they met (circa 1951) 

Both my parents were remarkable and unconventional people. Here’s what my brother Nathan wrote about Martin’s professional career:

Martin Davis  was considered a pioneering figure in the history and development of the computer science field. In his last decade, he was regarded the primary world exponent of Alan Touring’s seminal work in logic and computability theory (they shared the same same thesis advisor at Princeton University—Alonzo Church—though my father attended a decade later). My father coined the phrase “computability,” per his first and seminal book: Computability and Unsolvability. His work towards the solution of Hilbert’s Tenth problem is another factor that places him historically in transitioning the theoretical mathematical field of symbolic logic to the advent of computer science.

You can learn more about Martin’s professional life here.

Virginia was a fiber artist who exhibited widely, was the recipient of many awards, and was dearly beloved by a wide circle of colleagues. Here’s how her website puts it:

After studying art in London and at the Art Students League in New York, Virginia Davis has had her work in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries, nationally and internationally. She uses ikat, a technique of applying color to threads before they are woven into a textile, not only for the dimension it gives her work, but also for its historical and ethnographic aspects. She teaches, lectures and writes on this and other subjects. Her awards include an Indo-American Fellowship to India, two fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, two individual Visual Artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, NEA sponsored residences at the Cité International des Artes in Paris and in Mexico City, and most recently, a grant from the Ruth Chenven Foundation. In addition to private collections, her work is in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Museum of Art, Museum of North Dakota, and Hewlett-Packard.

Martin Davis as a young man

On a personal note, while the past year has been unequivocally difficult, I miss them both tremendously. I keep find myself wanting to share something with one or both of them, and then having to remind myself that I no longer can.

Martin taught me to play chess, to program computers at an early age, to enjoy Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, and what the Hegelian dialectic has to do with Karl Marx’s Das Kapital (on the last one, you can ask me if you are curious).

From Virginia I learned to trust my intuition, to explore art as play, and to appreciate some of the finer points of craft.

There are no tears deep enough, but it is some consolation to know they are together and at peace at last.

White Anemone © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Wrapping up the Year: Flower Close-Ups

White Anemone © Harold Davis

Heading into a new year, I always like to look back through my photography of the waning year to see what I might have overlooked. Here are a few candidates in the “flower: close-ups” category. 

Best wishes to all for a great 2023!

Poppy in Pink © Harold Davis

All things must pass © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

My parents soon after they met

This is a photo of my parents, Martin and Virginia, taken soon after they met, probably in 1952 or 1953, and most likely on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champagn-Urbana, where my Dad had his first post-doctorate teaching assignment.

My parents soon after they met © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Wishing you joy and light this holiday season!

Posted in Photography

Harold Davis—Best of 2022

2022—another “interesting” year! Travel brought me to Maine, Colorado, France (twice, once in the spring and once in the autumn), Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Professional highlights included the publication of Composition & Photography, seeing my work as U.S. Postage stamps, and receiving the PSA Progress Award. Many flowers were photographed!

I’ve been making my “personal choice” best-of selections for many years, going back to 2013. These selections can be found here. My choices are idiosyncratic, based on no discernible criteria whatsoever, and simply are my personal taste. These selections are by no means complete. A more thorough catalog of my work can be found on Flickr, Instagram, and on my blog (but many of my images never get blogged even if I like them).

Starting in January, 2022, with Purple Tulip, I used my macro probe lens placed inside the outer petals of the floral blossom. Read more.

Purple Tulip © Harold Davis

Petal Dancer made me laugh, because the composition of this partially dried flower petal seems to resemble a high-stepping dancer.

Petal Dancer © Harold Davis

Speaking Truth to Power, created in March, 2022, is self-evidently an abstract work. But truth, justice, peace, and kindness can be in such short supply—and creating this kind of patterned abstraction helps to calm me in the face of the heedlessness of the world. The colors—Iris and Daffodils, with invading Tulips— are intended to bring those of Ukraine to mind.

Speaking Truth to Power © Harold Davis

About Calla Lilly Study #4, Scarlet Black on Flickr comments: “I love how this close up references subjects beyond the flower. Sun, celestial bodies, orbits and galaxy swirls step into the frame once imagination lets go of the calla lily. Even with that imaginative detour, the flower is nice to come back to.”

Calla Lily Study #4 © Harold Davis

Flowers Party Too! Yes. Well of course they do.

Flowers Party Too! © Harold Davis

I am always amazed at the the delicate intricacy of flowers in the Protea genus. My image is an attempt to render both the complexity and delightful delicacy of this flower in monochromatic, using a light box.

Proteus Monochrome Light Box © Harold Davis

Quantum Entanglement is only vaguely understood and seems pretty weird. In my image I hoped to echo this sense of scientific befuddlement using glassware, a light box, an LAB inversion, and compositing. Read more.

Quantum Entanglement © Harold Davis

In April I left for France. Spending some time photographing Paris with friends was great fun. Some of the images I made were from the footpath on the Ile aux Cygnes, and showed reflections in the windows of the buildings of modern Paris.

Parallel Reflections © Harold Davis

In my blog, I noted after arriving in Toulouse “the hubbub of the nearly perpetual marketplace in the Place du Capitole (shown below from a window in my hotel).” Read more.

Place du Capitole, Toulouse © Harold Davis

Along the Camino de Santiago, I made a grab shot into a mirror. Read more.

Dr Caligari’s House © Harold Davis

Back home after various adventures and misadventures, I posed the question “what if James Bond had liked flowers more than guns, gadgets, fast women, and cars?” in Too Many Tulips Are Not Enough. [Answer: the world might be a kinder, gentler, and more colorful place.] Read more.

Too Many Tulips Are Not Enough © Harold Davis

Flowers make such interesting patterns. One such is shown in Dodecagram Papaver Pod.

Dodecagram Papaver Pod © Harold Davis

What happens when you use my light box techniques for Photographing Flowers for Transparency without a light box? I decided to find out in Florista on White. Read more.

Florista on White © Harold Davis

Over my garden gate, the Clematis vine is thriving, provided we keep its “feet” moist. Two of the Clematis flowers bloomed together, and I cropped them to make this composition on the light box. Read more.

Clematis in Love © Harold Davis

As summer 2022 began, I created a bouquet. Read more.

Summer Bouquet © Harold Davis

Some flowers remind me of sea creatures, an idea I explored in Do Flowers Come from the Sea? Read more

Do Flowers Come from the Sea? © Harold Davis

In Lavatera trimestris I used my macro probe lens to create a different view of a Rose mallow, with an idea to showing details and symmetry.

Lavatera trimestris © Harold Davis

I taught Composition & Photography at Maine Media Workshops in September, and had a great, small group of students. It was great fun getting to photograph “stuff” that I didn’t have to take care of, store, or own! One such collection is shown in Tripping the Glass Fantastic.

Tripping the Glass Fantastic © Harold Davis

From Maine I went to Colorado, where I photographed this steam train. Read more.

Steam Train © Harold Davis

Starting in October, I was in Europe. There was almost too much to photograph. One such sight was the Himbachel Viaduct. Read more.

Himbachel Viaduct © Harold Davis

In Heidelberg, Germany I made X-Ray and Fusion X-Ray images of flowers with my friend Julian Kopke. Read more.

Dahlia X-Ray © Harold Davis

Calla Lilly Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

Julian and I enjoyed the Tuscan landscape, particularly the early mornings wreathed in fog.

Morning Comes Softly © Harold Davis

In Orvieto, in Umbria, there was much to photograph, including the spectacular Duomo. Read more.

Duomo Window © Harold Davis

Duomo in the Morning Fog © Harold Davis

Duomo in the Clearing Fog © Harold Davis

Early Morning, Orvieto © Harold Davis

Closed © Harold Davis

St Patrick’s Well, or Pozzo di San Patrizio, is located in Orvieto, Umbria, Italy. There are 248 steps down (and up). The view in my image is looking up at the daylight at the top of the well. The whole thing is like a tower that goes down into the ground, rather than standing above it. Read more.

Well of St Patrick’s © Harold Davis

In Florence, I enjoyed an exhibition of work by M.C. Escher, and was surprised to learn how much he was influenced by the Italian landscape (one just doesn’t think of Escher in the context of landscape, at least I don’t)!

I moved on to Trieste, and photographed the hotel where I was staying, and contemplated Escher. Read more.

Mirror Selfie © Harold Davis

Hotel Savoy, Trieste © Harold Davis

Venice is one of the places in the world I most enjoy visiting and photographing. Of course, like everyone else, I always try to visit when no other visitors are there!

Gondolas © Harold Davis

Back home for the waning of the year, there are always flowers to photograph! With Floral Gestures, as the title implies, I was trying to create a composition where the image was gestural, almost as it one was having a conversation in the wild with a floral entity.

Floral Gestures © Harold Davis

Every flower is unique, of course, which is part of what I enjoy so much about photographing them. This Chrysanthemum somehow makes their individuality very apparent to me, hence the title.

Every Flower Unique © Harold Davis

I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of my 2022 photography Odyssey. This year has been not without challenges for myself and our family, but I always find it worthwhile to review what I’ve done artistically.

Most of my images are available as prints. If you are interested, please let me know.

Check out my self-selected bests from previous years in Best Images Annuals!

Posted in Best Of

Fusion X-Rays

These two flower images are fusion X-Rays: one part medical X-Ray combined with one part light box photo. I created them last month in collaboration with my friend Dr Julian Kopke, radiologist and photographer extraordinaire. Some more info about the fusion process can be found in this story.

Check out the X-Ray category on my blog, and my portfolio of X-Ray images.

Calla Lilly Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

Rose Bouquet – Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, X-Ray

2022 PSA Progress Award

The Photographic Society of America (PSA) gives their Progress Award annually to recognize “a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the progress of photography or an allied subject. The recipient does not have to be a member of the Society.”

I’m proud and grateful to be the 2022 recipient of this award, specifically cited for “the development of a high key digital HDR workflow and set of techniques involving specific kinds of back lighting that make it possible to create luminous translucent imagery.”

Given annually since 1948, previous recipients of the Progress Award include Walt Disney, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Eliot Porter, Robert N. Noyce, John & Thomas Knoll, and Ken Burns. I’m excited to be part of this august company (as you can see in the iPhone photo below, snapped by Nicholas Davis)—and look forward to moving creatively onward from here!

Posted in Photography

Home

It’s great to be home. The image shows a ceramic bowl I bought as a gift for Phyllis in Orvieto, with lemons from our tree.

Lemon Bowl © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Mirror Selfie

I took advantage of the mirrors in my dressing room in the hotel in Trieste to create a “recursive” image along the lines of the Droste effect (immediately below). This kind of image making has its own chapter in my book Composition & Photography.

Mirror Selfie © Harold Davis

Perhaps what brought the Droste effect to mind was an M.C.Escher exhibit I had just seen in Florence. In one fun, interactive feature, I was encouraged to snap an iPhone shot of myself (instead of Escher) in his famous lithograph of a reflective ball (below).

At the Escher Exhibit © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Monochrome, Photography