Beginner’s Mind

Rollback © Harold Davis

Rollback © Harold Davis

Shoshin is a word from Zen Buddhism that is often translated as “beginner’s mind.” Beginner’s Mind means having an attitude of openness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject or working as an artist, even when working at an advanced level, just as a beginner would in the best case analysis with a capable and flexible guide.

In the context of my own practice, and the way I teach students to approach their own art and photography, I take Beginner’s Mind to mean to approach my art with humbleness, playfulness, and experimentation—and to be prepared to happily fail.

I am now engaged in playing with a new body of work that involves my photography of flowers for transparency, LAB inversions, photography of pure light though colored liquid in glass bottles, and post-production. 

Over on my Instagram Feed, I was asked about the image shown at the top of this story: “I love this and I am so confused. Please explain how?”

That’s okay, I’m confused too about how I got here, and where this ride is going to take me next.

I didn’t want to be rude, but I didn’t want to explain the technical side of this work yet (if I ever am ready to do so). I replied, “Thanks for your interest! This is a new set of techniques I have started playing with, and I am not ready to share the ‘how’ yet. In the meantime, enjoy the magic….xxxooo.”

So, yes, please enjoy the magic.

Related story: Tacked to a Virtual Wall.

Scrolling Around © Harold Davis

Scrolling Around © Harold Davis

Climbing the Columns © Harold DavisClimbing the Columns © Harold Davis

Climbing the Columns © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Tacked to a Virtual Wall

Curled Epiphany © Harold Davis

Curled Epiphany © Harold Davis

Starting with a light box image of flowers arranged vertically (shown below), I created an L-channel LAB inversion, as well as a variant using the Exclusion Blending Mode. I curled the Exclusion Blending Mode version to the verso of the virtual inversion, and added the curled combination to a background “wall.”

To add a trompe l’oeil effect and some verisimilitude, I photographed a thumb tack on black in three positions (every corner but the curl), and added the tacks to hold the virtually double-sided flower composition on the virtual wall.

Flowers Are © Harold Davis

Flowers Are © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Farewell to After-Hours Access at Giverny

Giverny Afternoon © Harold Davis

Giverny Afternoon © Harold Davis

Sadly, the Monet gardens at Giverny have ended their program allowing artists, photographers, and writers to access the gardens before and after the public admission hours. I don’t know why this decision was made. All things must pass, and the only thing constant is change.

If you have been with me and my Photograph Paris in the Spring groups over the years, wasn’t it wonderful to wander and photograph in these gardens without the crowds? This is an opportunity that will not easily come again, so it is important to savor the time we did have, the photographs we made, and the memories.

If you are considering joining our group in Paris in the spring of 2021, don’t worry: there are many wonderful gardens and excursions in and near Paris, and we will find our way into some wonderful gardens and photographic adventures.

And keep in mind (in life as well as in photography) that since all things change, it makes huge sense to carpe diem.

Flowers at Giverny © Harold Davis

Flowers at Giverny © Harold Davis

Willow Reflections, Giverny © Harold Davis

Willow Reflections, Giverny © Harold Davis

Giverny © Harold Davis

Giverny © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, France, Paris, Photography

Flowers on Black versus an Inversion

Orchids on Black © Harold Davis

Orchids on Black © Harold Davis

The image above, Orchids on Black, was created by photographing the flowers on a black background, with a bit of enhancement in LAB color. Flower Magic on Black, shown below, was photographed on a light box. The background of the image was converted from white to black using an LAB inversion of the L-channel.

Click here for my complete Creative LAB Color in Photoshop course, here for the FAQs on my website, and here for info about the 2020 session of the Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop.

Special thanks to Jack and Ellen Anon.

Flower Magic on Black © Harold Davis

Flower Magic on Black © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Patagonia Photography Adventure (March 21-31, 2021)

We’re pleased and excited to open for registration the new Patagonia Photography Adventure, March 21-31, 2021, with optional extension to Iguazu Falls (March 31 – April 4, 2021). This is a small photography group (6-12 people) with logistics provided by a major travel company, and is for me a dream trip that I am unlikely to repeat.

Click here for the complete itinerary (PDF), here for the Patagonia Photography Adventure Reservation Form, and here for the Iguazu Falls Extension Reservation Form. Please read the itinerary carefully, and let us know if you have any questions.

Refer to the reservation forms for trip cost and payment schedules. Note that a $500 early-bird discount will apply to the first six registrations.

Photo via Wilderness Travel

Patagonia Photography Adventure: Argentina’s Peaks and Glaciers

Some of the most spectacular mountains on our planet are found in Argentina’s Los Glaciare National Park, home to the sky-piercing peaks of the Fitz Roy massif. In collaboration with Wilderness Travel, we have created a photographic adventure that reveals the very best of this grand scale paradise, where rivers of ice pour down from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field.

With options each day, our walks and hikes lead us to stunning photographic locations to capture the spires of Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. We will visit the park’s magnificent glacier and the massive ice wall of Perito Moreno, one of Argentina’s natural wonders. Back at our comfortable rural estancias, including Helsingfors and Cristina, with their exclusive wilderness locations, we’ll celebrate each amazing day with home-cooked Patagonian fare and fine Argentine wines.

Photo via Wilderness Travel

Optional Iguazu Falls Extension

One of the most stunning natural wonders in the world, Iguazú Falls stretches a full mile across the Rio Parana, with 275 separate cascades—one third on the Brazilian side, two thirds on the Argentinian side—laced with rainbows and plunging hundreds of feet in a mist-shrouded subtropical landscape, truly an other-worldly spectacle. The cascades form part of the Iguazú National Park, known for more than 400 different species of birds. A walk along the footbridges of the park is a chance to spot colorful toucans and other birds. The park was declared a Natural World Heritage for Humanity by UNESCO in 1984. The Falls can be reached by paths, footbridges, and Zodiac, offering a number of different perspectives.

Click here for the complete itinerary (PDF), here for the Patagonia Photography Adventure Reservation Form, and here for the Iguazu Falls Extension Reservation Form.

Posted in Workshops

Early-Bird Discount Deadlines Approaching

Our spring 2020 destination photo workshop to Southwest France no longer has vacancies. But we do have a couple of other wonderful opportunities, currently with significant early-registration discounts:

Posted in Workshops

2020 Photographing Flowers for Transparency Workshop with Harold Davis

Flowers for Transparency Workshop 2020

Please join us for the 2020 session of Photographing Flowers for Transparency with Harold Davis (June 20-21, 2020) to be held in Berkeley, CA. Click here for more information, and here for registration, or contact us for information or registration. Our experience is that this workshop, only given once annually, fills quickly!

Posted in Photography, Workshops

Dryad and Dark Angel

Dryad © Harold Davis

Dryad © Harold Davis

Dryad and Dark Angel are in-camera multiple exposures using studio strobes and a black background, with some Photoshop post-production work. With Dryad (above), the model used the multiple exposures to intentionally form a tree-like shape. Later, in Photoshop, I added the exterior textures of branches of a tree to give the sense that the model was an exemplar of the divine spirit in a tree, or in other words, a Tree Goddess, a Dryad.

With Dark Angel (below), the wing-like effect around the model’s upper arms was creating when she moved a black, translucent fabric while making the exposures. I positioned her in the frame you can see in Photoshop.

Click here for more of my Multiple Exposure series. The beautiful model for Dryad and Dark Angel, Muirina Fae, was also in Avatar, Devotional Pose, and Vitruvian Woman.

Dark Angel © Harold Davis

Dark Angel © Harold Davis

Posted in Models, Multiple Exposures, Photography

From the Archives

Almost Gone © Harold Davis

Almost Gone © Harold Davis

Photographed in 2006. Click here for the original blog story.

Posted in Photography

Creative Black and White Opportunities Webinar

The replay of my Creative Black and White Opportunities webinar is now available for viewing on YouTube. I had a bit of problem with managing the software, and got “out of the gate” a little slowly, but if you have patience with the webinar I think you’ll find some worthwhile ideas about creative monochrome.

This webinar was organized and sponsored by Rocky Nook, the publishers of my new book Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition. In this webinar, I discussed the monochrome vision, and tips and tricks related to digital black and white photography, and included material on LAB inversions, solarization techniques, the Karl Blossfeldt effect, and x-ray imaging.

My new book, Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition, is now available. The publisher, Rocky Nook, is offering a 40% discount. Click here to buy Creative Black & White 2nd Ed directly from the publisher. Use the code “HDAVIS40” [no quotes] at checkout to apply the discount (you can also use my discount code for all other Rocky Nook books, by the way!).

Here are the links for my book on Amazon.com and on B&N as well, so the choice of supplier is yours, and here’s the link for the webinar replay on YouTube.

Under the Yaquina Bay Bridge (B&W) © Harold Davis

Under the Yaquina Bay Bridge © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Photoshop Backgrounds and Textures

Eiffel Tower with texture © Harold Davis

Regarding my LinkedIn Learning Photoshop Backgrounds & Textures course, a correspondent emails: “Thank you for making this topic so interesting. I’ve been accumulating photos of backgrounds and textures for years and have had very little success with using them in my composites. I now understand how they need to be tweaked with opacity and blending modes to get the effects I like….I think you are tops.”

Thanks! [blushing]

Check out my Photoshop Backgrounds & Textures course to easily add spice, interest, and artistry to your images. My online course is available from LinkedIn Learning a/k/a Lynda.com. 

Burning Off the Fog (texturized) © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Spoonerismo

Spoonerismo © Harold Davis

Spoonerismo © Harold Davis

Looking at our sets of kitchen measuring spoons, with their patina and scratches from long use in a hard-working family kitchen, I noticed the pattern of concentric ovals, particularly when each set of spoons was positioned so that light hit the upper edge of each spoon, and was withheld from the concave interiors.

To control the light, and the reflections in the spoon interiors, we lined a large bucket with black velvet, creating a raised stage within the bucket, also on black velvet. This way I was able to control the light coming in across the measuring spoon sets. 

For both images I used a 100mm macro lens tripod mounted at f/22 and ISO 64. Each image is combined from eight exposures, with shutter speeds ranging from 1/4 of a second to 30 seconds.

Measuring Spoons © Harold Davis

Measuring Spoons © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

PhotoActive Podcast Interview with Harold Davis

PhotoActive has featured an interview with me in their podcast, Episode 50: Harold Davis Creative Black & White. If you enjoy the chat I have on the podcast with my interlocutors Jeff Carlson and Kirk McElhearn (thanks guys!), you might also find their discussion with Michael Kenna of interest.

Podcast Description: Artist, photographer, and writer Harold Davis joins us to discuss his new book Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition, and we talk about the photographer as artist, and how to see the world in monochrome.

Clematis © Harold Davis

Clematis © Harold Davis

Click here for more about Clematis.

Nesting Bowls and a Nautilus Slice © Harold Davis

Nesting Bowls and a Nautilus Slice © Harold Davis

Click here for more spirals!

My book, Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition, is now available. The publisher, Rocky Nook, is offering a 40% discount. Click here to buy Creative Black & White 2nd Ed directly from the publisher. Use the code “HDAVIS40” [no quotes] at checkout to apply the discount (you can also use my discount code for all other Rocky Nook books, by the way!).

Here are the links for my book on Amazon.com and on B&N as well, so the choice of supplier is yours. I appreciate your positive and thoughtful reviews on Amazon!

Posted in Writing

Magic in Everyday Things

In the morning, Phyllis called me over. She had the vitamin bottle upended, looking inside for pills she noticed them on the circumference of the circle at the bottom spread out almost like a sparkling kaleidoscope.

Vitamin D3 Bottle from the Inside © Harold Davis

Vitamin D3 Bottle from the Inside © Harold Davis

To photograph the effect, Phyllis held the bottle up in the morning sun in our kitchen. I tripod mounted my camera, and used my macro probe lens, with the front optic pushed inside the vitamin bottle like an eyeball on a stalk.

There’s magic in everyday things! I’ve had guesses about what this photograph depicts ranging from the Eye of Sauron (in his cups, towards the bottom of the story) to an operating room light, a package of seeds, and an architectural dome. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Or is it?

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

Playing with GIFs

Posted in Photography