Thistle While You Workshop

Arlington Avenue is a divided street that runs a block away from my home from Marin Circle in North Berkeley to downtown Kensington, California—a quaint low-key strip that hosts a friendly post office in the drugstore and California-Spanish style architecture. Arlington Ave is notable because the Hayward Fault, a major earthquake fault zone that is “capable of generating significantly destructive earthquakes” (as the Wikipedia puts it), runs right along the center road divider as it passes through Berkeley, California.

In summer months, when plant growth around here begins to be so prolific as to be excessive, the median strip of Arlington Ave that lies above the Hayward Fault also becomes one of my sources for photographic subject matter.

I watched a clump of thistles growing for several weeks and then decided I needed to capture one to bring back to my studio for photography. My oldest son Julian came with me on the thistle-gathering expedition. We wore our most thorn-proof clothing and inner and outer gloves, and used an extra long pruner. Even so, this thistle drew blood when I cut it down, and carried it away for photography.

In the studio, I placed the thistle upright in front of a lightbox. I then lit the front of the thistle with a warm, Tungsten photo light. I bracketed exposures to create and effect of layered transparency and extended dynamic range when the exposures were combined in Photoshop.

Thistle by Harold Davis

Thistle © Harold Davis

From the moment I began to see this image come together in my viewfinder, I knew I had something. This thistle’s motto may have been “we always hurt the ones we love,” or at least the ones who photograph us, but there’s a thrill in creating imagery when everything goes right and when one is “in the zone” that is hard to beat and makes the pain of a thistle’s thorns seem like nothing!

I look forward to sharing my joy in photography and the fantastic high of successful image making when I give a workshop—hence the offerings you’ll see below.

The day after I shot this photo city crews came along, chopped down all the wonderful weeds including my thistle patch, and put them through a shredder. If I’d waited a day more, the thistle would have been gone. One of the lessons I’ve learned in a life largely devoted to photography is carpe diem—to seize the day. In other words, when you see a photo, take it. There are always good reasons for procrastination and delay, like one has to be somewhere, or it is too much trouble. Eschew these lame excuses! If not now, when? This is a good way to live life generally, a good way to be a photography—and in my admittedly biased opinion a good way to approach signing up for workshops!

Please consider these new workshop offerings (note special early-bird pricing through February 14, 2012):

Digital Black & White Master Class: Full Day Workshop with Vincent Versace & Harold Davis

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn from two of the masters of contemporary monochromatic photography. Registration.

Vincent Versace is the author of From Oz to Kansas: Almost Every Black & White Technique Known to Man and Harold Davis is the author of Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (in addition to other bestselling books from both master photographers). 

Creative Black & White by Harold DavisTopics covered in this workshop will include:

  • The monochromatic vision: learning to see the world in black & white
  • The craft of digital black & white
  • Digital black & white workflow
  • Monochromatic conversion in Lightroom
  • Nik Silver Efex 2
  • Working in Photoshop to perfect your black & white images
  • Monochromatic HDR
  • Tips & techniques from both Harold Davis and Vincent Versace
  • Making fine black & white prints

In addition, there will be time for individual portfolio reviews (plan to bring no more than six black & white prints or six images in JPEG format on a USB drive).

Workshop fee includes a finger-licking BBQ lunch from Everett & Jones. Vegetarian dishes and salads will also be served.

Who is this workshop for?

If you are interested in black & white photography and would like to take your work to the next level this is a rare opportunity to perfect your technique and be inspired by two legendary photographers and teachers! This workshop is primarily intended for serious amateurs and professionals who already have some experience with digital black & white photography.
Where: MIG Meeting Place, 800 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710

When: Saturday March 10, 2012, 9:30AM

Tuition: Early-bird Valentine’s special! Register by February 14, 2012 to save $100. The cost of the workshop is $295 per person until 5PM on February 14th. Thereafter the full cost of the workshop is $395 per person. Workshop limited to 25 participants. Information and Registration.


Full Day Workshop: HDR (High Dynamic Range) Bootcamp with Harold Davis

Are you curious about HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography? Do you want to learn the gamut of techniques for extending dynamic range in your photos? Would you like to unleash the full power of HDR photography but don’t know the “secrets”? Registration.

Creating HDR Photos by Harold DavisIf the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” then HDR (High Dynamic Range) Bootcamp with Harold Davis is for you!

In this intensive, full-day workshop, Harold will show you how to shoot for HDR, how to extend dynamic range using multi-RAW processing, using automated HDR software including Photomatix and Nik HDR Efex Pro, and hand HDR processing in Photoshop.

In this workshop Harold reveals the secrets of HDR that you can’t learn anywhere else. With the HDR techniques taught in this workshop your photos will never be the same.

Besides mastering HDR techniques, and most important of all, Harold will help you develop your own style of HDR photography. 

Who is this workshop for?

This workshop is intended for intermediate to advanced photographers who are new to HDR, or have tried HDR and want to learn more about it (or are unhappy with their results).

Please contact us for clarification if you aren’t sure if this workshop is appropriate for you. 
Where: MIG Meeting Place, 800 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710

When: Saturday March 24, 2012, 9:30AM to 5:30PM

Tuition: Early-bird Valentine’s special! Register by February 14, 2012 to save $50. The cost of the workshop is $145 per person until 5PM on February 14th. Thereafter the full cost of the workshop is $195 per person. Workshop limited to 18 participants. Information and Registration.


Other Harold Davis workshops

Please also keep in mind these workshops. There are only a few places left in each of these workshops and we expect them to sell out completely (so if you are interested in attending please don’t delay in registering):

You can learn more about Harold’s workshops and free events at the Photography with Harold Davis meetup; here’s the link to Harold’s calendar.


About Harold Davis

Legendary master photographer Harold Davis has been described as a “great teacher,” as someone whose “passion for teaching about photography is only second to doing photography in a creative way,” and as having “great skill without the ego of most master photographers.”

Harold Davis is an award-winning professional photographer and widely recognized as one of the leading contemporary photographers.

He is the author of more than 30 books, including Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography,  Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis (Focal Press), The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations (Focal Press), and The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Post-Processing (Focal Press).

Harold is the author of the Creative Photography series from Wiley Publishing.

“Harold Davis’s Creative Photography series is a great way to start a photography library”—Daniel Fealko, PhotoFidelity.

The Creative titles include: Creative Landscapes: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Lighting: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Portraits: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Close-Ups: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley). He’s also written a book on the fundamentals of exposure, Light & Exposure for Digital Photographers (O’Reilly Media).

This entry was posted in Workshops.

One Comment

  1. thommya January 27, 2012 at 11:57 am #

    Absolutely lovely photo!!
    Like your backlit flowers a lot and even though a thistle may be seen as weed you make it shine.
    What kind of lightbox is used for this kind of photo?

    Best regards
    Thommy Andersen

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