Best of 2015: Backwards and Forwards

As a photographer and artist, I’m the kind of person who would much rather look forward than backward. The next adventure, or the next photo, is always more interesting to me than the completed adventure (or the image that has already been made).

That said, those who don’t remember history are doomed to repeat it. Taking stock of what one has done in a given year can be a good prelude to ratcheting it up a notch for the next year (and, of course, the coming of a new year is a traditional time to make this inventory). Creating this kind of list is part of the process of establishing a baseline that I explain in Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer.

In this spirit in years gone by I have compiled My Best of 2014 and My Best of 2013. Now, in roughly chronological order, here are some of my best photos and adventures from 2015. In many cases you’ll find a bit about the backstory of the image, and links to the full story about the image on my blog.

By the way, if you are interesting in coming with me on a new photography adventure, there are a very few spaces remaining in Photograph Paris in the Spring. Phyllis and I are also offering two Italian destination photo workshops in the autumn of the new year, Under the Tuscan Skies and Photograph Venice.

New Span of the Bay Bridge

When the new Sheriff comes riding into town, everyone needs to adjust. The same thing is true for photographers when a new public structure goes up, particularly when the change is striking and vast enough, like it or not, to totally change the landscape. When this kind of change happens we must assess the alteration to our familiar landscape, and seek out new vantage points to include the new element in our photographs. Read more.

New Span of the Bay Bridge © Harold Davis

New Span of the Bay Bridge © Harold Davis

Amazing Anemones

Back lighting emphasizes the translucency of the petals, and the transparent colors that are reminiscent of stained-glass. Read more.

Amazing Anemones © Harold Davis

Amazing Anemones © Harold Davis

Flower of Spring’s Desires

Photographed Friday on my light box using my Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 at f/16 and ISO 64 on the tripod. Eight blended exposures at shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/15 of second. Processed over the weekend using Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop, Nik HDR Efex Pro, Nik Color Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust, and Topaz Simplify.

Please see my FAQ for more info about how I made this image. Read more.

Flowers of Spring's Desire © Harold Davis

Flowers of Spring’s Desire © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black

To photograph this Clematis Bee’s Jubilee blossom, I placed it on a light box and photographed it straight down using a tripod with a Nikon D810 and my special Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 lens. Read more.

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Hall of Shadows

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. Read more.

Hall of Shadows © Harold Davis

Hall of Shadows © Harold Davis

D Ranch

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. Read more.

D Ranch, Point Reyes © Harold Davis

D Ranch, Point Reyes © Harold Davis

On Point Reyes in the spring, I photographed the details of the deteriorating buildings in the historic (but abandoned) D Ranch. Walking back towards my car I turned and saw the ranch buildings against a dramatic sky. Read more.

D Ranch (Color) © Harold Davis

D Ranch © Harold Davis

Memory Lane

Certainly, there is something very dramatic about coming upon these trees standing by themselves in the windswept landscape of Point Reyes. Read more.

Memory Lane © Harold Davis

Memory Lane © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa and Translucency of Rosa on Black

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa on Black © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa on Black © Harold Davis

Inside the Old Market Tower (Looking Down and Looking Up)

Inside Prague’s Old Town Square Tower they’ve constructed an elegant spiral ramp, with an elevator in the middle. Read more.

Inside the Old Market Tower - Looking Down © Harold Davis

Inside the Old Market Tower – Looking Down © Harold Davis

Inside the Old Market Tower - Looking Up © Harold Davis

Inside the Old Market Tower – Looking Up © Harold Davis

Spires of Prague

I’ve never seen such a veritable cacophony of spires in a European city as in Prague. These wonderful spires, or towers, help to impart Prague’s unusual and distinctive flavor. What is it about upright towers reaching for the sky that appeals to the engineers among humanity? Wait, hold that thought! Read more.

Spires of Prague © Harold Davis

Spires of Prague © Harold Davis

House of Mirrors

On top of Petrinske Sady (Petrin Hill) in Prague, Czech Republic is a tower built to replicate the Eiffel Tower at 1/5 scale. From the top of the tower, it is one of the best views of Prague, and apparently the place in Prague to take a romantic date for a kiss. Next to the foot of the Petrin Tower is a maze and House of Mirrors. Read more.

House of Mirrors, Prague © Harold Davis

House of Mirrors, Prague © Harold Davis

Strahov Monastery Library

Under the communists the library was turned into a National Literature Memorial. After the velvet revolution, the Strahov Monastery was returned to the Premonstratensian diocese, with restoration still underway in the famous libraries and also the monks devotional efforts to brewing quality beer. Read more.

Strahov Monastery Library © Harold Davis

Strahov Monastery Library © Harold Davis

Bend in the Neckar River

On a great bend in the Neckar River, about 15 kilometers up-river from Heidelberg, Germany lies the town of Neckarsteinach. Four dramatic castles sit atop the crags overlooking the Neckar. Julian, one of my workshop participants, brought me here the day I was flying home, and together we explored the area. Read more.

Bend in the Neckar River © Harold Davis

Bend in the Neckar River © Harold Davis

Path beside the Rhine

The Rhine has been navigated for thousands of years, since Roman times, and the channels have been straightened and broadened. The river used the meander much more with wetlands. These banks of the old Rhine have been preserved as park lands in places, and it is here we went with our cameras! Read more.

Path beside the Rhine © Harold Davis

Path beside the Rhine © Harold Davis

Still Life in Silver Bowl

Sometimes the beautiful things are all around us, like this group of fruit in a reflective bowl. Read more.

Still Life in Silver Bowl © Harold Davis

Still Life in Silver Bowl © Harold Davis

Beneath the Pont de la Concorde

The modernism of the underpinnings of this bridge over the Seine River in Paris, France belies the ornate fancifulness of the bridge from above. This is one of the joys of photographing in Paris—styles with huge inherent differences are cheek and jowl together, and somehow work in harmony. Read more.

Beneath the Pont de la Concorde © Harold Davis

Beneath the Pont de la Concorde © Harold Davis

Forest Reflection

The underlying photography in this image consists of two photographs of trees reflected in a puddle that I made in the Parc de Sceaux in suburban Paris, France with the camera on a tripod. One photo was made when the water was still, so the reflections of the trees were very clear. The other was made from the same position when it was windy. Read more.

Forest Reflection © Harold Davis

Forest Reflection © Harold Davis

Maple Leaves

Maple Leaves © Harold Davis

Maple Leaves © Harold Davis

Old Train Bridge

I photographed this old train bridge in Maine, with the idea of extending the apparent length of the bridge visually as far as I could. Read more.

Old Train Bridge © Harold Davis

Old Train Bridge © Harold Davis

Reflections in a Maine Pond

Reflections in a Maine Pond © Harold Davis

Reflections in a Maine Pond © Harold Davis

Inside the Pemaquid Lighthouse

Today I visited Pemaquid Point, Maine and its well-known lighthouse. This is still an operational lighthouse, run by the United States Coastguard. After I visited the top of the tower, the docent was kind enough to let me set my tripod up under the spiral stairs leading up. Read more.

Inside the Pemaquid Lighthouse © Harold Davis

Inside the Pemaquid Lighthouse © Harold Davis

Monhegan Storm

Monhegan Island is a small island twelve miles off the coast of Maine. The island clings to the edge of the ocean, and the coast of the mainland is only a smudge at the edge of vision. Read more.

Monhegan Storm © Harold Davis

Monhegan Storm © Harold Davis

Mandahlia

© Harold Davis

Mandahlia © Harold Davis

 

Shores of the Inland Sea

In Japan, there’s an aesthetic that embraces remarkable beauty, and at the same time is able to create landscapes that bear a passing resemblance to Hell itself, from the vast human ant piles of the urban Japan to the industry on the shores of the Inland Sea. Read more.

Shores of the Inland Sea © Harold Davis

Shores of the Inland Sea © Harold Davis

Feathers

Feathers © Harold Davis

Feathers © Harold Davis

Spider Web Bokeh

The other day dawned here in Berkeley, California with low, clinging fog. It was like being in the middle of a cloud. The thing about this kind of weather is that it’s rare—and wonderful—to have the water droplets in the fog physically on myriad objects. Read more.

Spider Web Bokeh © Harold Davis

Spider Web Bokeh © Harold Davis

Low Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis Inversion

Low Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis Inversion © Harold Davis

Low Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis Inversion © Harold Davis

Ponte Vechio Night Reflections

How amazing it is to leave California in the afternoon, transit through an airline haze of mediocre movies and reading materials, and more-or-less the next morning to arrive in Italy! Read more.

Ponte Vecchio Night Reflections © Harold Davis

Ponte Vecchio Night Reflections © Harold Davis

Manarola

I am particularly fond of the patterns of buildings and rooftops you see in European towns and cities. Read more.

Manarola © Harold Davis

Manarola © Harold Davis

Riomaggiore

Sunbathing on the boat ramp in Riomaggiore harbor could be La Dolce Vita—the sweet life, and the name of a 1960 Fellini film. Except that the angle of repose causes most of these couples to anchor themselves using wood slots to stop from sliding into the water. Read more.

Riomaggiore, 2015 © Harold Davis

Riomaggiore, 2015 © Harold Davis

Lost City

Adjacent to the center of picturesque Sorrento, Italy two chasms meet. Long ago, rivers in these gorges flowed cleanly down to the ocean, and were the original settlement in the area. Over time, and thanks in part to construction of the new town of Sorrento, the area became isolated from the harbor and increasingly damp. In modern times, it has been abandoned to the ferns and other vegetation, although the old mill shown in these photos was in use until the late 1800s. Read more.

Lost City © Harold Davis

Lost City © Harold Davis

Gardens of the Villa San Michele

At the end of the 1800s an eccentric Swedish physician with aristocratic connections, Axel Munthe, began work on his “dream house” on the island of Capri in Italy. The location was a ledge about 1,000 feet above the town of Capri, and adjacent to the small village of Anacapri. Read more.

Gardens of the Villa San Michele © Harold Davis

Gardens of the Villa San Michele © Harold Davis

View from Ravello

Ravello sits about 1,000 feet above the town of Amalfi on the stupendous Amalfi Coast of Italy. Back in the 1200s and 1300s, when Amalfi was a geopolitical powerhouse, Ravello was the summer home for the Amalfiese aristocracy. Read more.

View from Ravello © Harold Davis

View from Ravello © Harold Davis

Piazza San Marco

During daylight hours, and well into the evening in warm months, San Marco is of course jam-packed. Competing classical schmaltz bands strive to drive tourists into over-priced outdoor cafes. Public events are staged in the square. But at night, when it is foggy and chill, the piazza empties. Read more.

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

Bridge of Sighs at Night

The Ponte dei Sospiri, or Bridge of Sighs, is one of the most famous landmarks in Venice, Italy. It connects the Doge’s Palace with a prison on the opposite side of the canal. The name, coined by Lord Byron, comes from the idea that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken across to their grim cells, often to remain imprisoned for the rest of their lives. Read more.

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

Venice of Dreams

Coming into Venice after a long day on the train from Naples was a dream-like experience. From southern almost summer time I was transported into an early November dark world of chill fog that hit me like a blast as I walked from the train to the boat landing on the Grand Canal. Read more.

Venice of Dreams © Harold Davis

Venice of Dreams © Harold Davis

Tall Ships

On a Venetian morning socked in with fog, my friend Mauro and I took the vaporetto across to the island of San Giorgio. The normally inspiring view from the top of the San Giorgio campanile was a blank white wall. But the boats in the nearby harbor were moving slightly, putting me in mind of sepia Dutch nautical drawings. Read more.

Tall Ships © Harold Davis

Tall Ships © Harold Davis

Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

I was in New York City just now for 48 hours, give or take an hour or two. It’s hard for me to visit New York without sensing a bit of personal dislocation. It’s as though there is one Harold who stayed in New York, where I grew up, and had a photography studio for a number of years. There’s another Harold who moved out of “the city” twenty-odd years ago, as in fact I did on the time line that feels most like reality. Read more.

Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade © Harold Davis

Manhattan from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade © Harold Davis

Cross Bronx Expwy

I visited upper Manhattan, where I walked across the newly reopened High Bridge to the Bronx at sunset, and made a photo of traffic jammed like a pinball game on the Cross Bronx Expressway (and, why isn’t “Cross Bronx” hypenated?). Read more.

Cross Bronx Expwy © Harold Davis

Cross Bronx Expwy © Harold Davis

In a Blue Hour

Over the weekend on Saturday I led a fun workshop sponsored by the Point Reyes Field Institute on Point Reyes photographing Waves. I had some very enthusiastic participants and I think we all had a good time. It was fun to be leading a workshop so close to home compared to my recent travels, and there is no doubt that Point Reyes National Seashore is a visual resource and national park second to none, no matter how far one might roam. Read more.

In a Blue Hour © Harold Davis

In a Blue Hour © Harold Davis

This entry was posted in Best Of, Photography.

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    […] you have the time and inclination, perhaps in a quest for inspiration, you can also peruse my Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and Best of […]

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